Innovation experts at Swansea University are playing a key role in improving the way hospitals use information about patients.

Staff from the Healthcare Technology Centre (HTC) are helping to develop new e-whiteboards which are used to record important health details while a patient is on the ward.

Whiteboards are a familiar site near a ward clerk’s desk but do have several drawbacks including legibility and the accuracy of what is written on them, especially if details have had to be transcribed from other sources. Also they can only be accessed by those physically close enough to read them and, as information needs to be updated quickly depending on patient status, they can quickly become irrelevant.

Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board has been working on a prototype of the board with help from the HTC which was established to collaborate with businesses and the NHS to develop new, innovative healthcare products and services.

The health board’s innovation lead Dr Tom Powell explained that the whiteboard draws in patient information from hospital data systems, as well as manually inputted live ward data, which is then displayed on a large TV screen.

Unlike traditional notes (where patient information is written up at the start of every day), the new, digital system factors allows staff to access the system remotely and drop patients (and all their information) into digital beds that reflect a real-time view of the ward and its layout.

In addition a range of smart symbols and icons let staff know the status of a patients’ care and various facts about them and their condition.

Dr Powell said:

“This IT application has enormous potential. It is a rapid way for staff to get vital information from wherever they are. It is having a huge impact on how our multi-disciplinary teams communicate.”

“The current version has received widespread approval, although it is a working prototype and there are many additional features and improvements possible. We are investigating many of the possibilities with our Accelerate colleagues to ensure the system has maximum impact on time and efficiency savings. “

HTC project lead Dr Naomi Joyce said:

“We have been delighted to be part of an innovation which really will help improve the care our health professionals can offer to patients. We look forward to being involved as it is developed for wider use across Welsh healthcare settings.

“The e-whiteboard is perfect example of the kind of project we can help with by offering access to state-of-the-art equipment facilities and an in-house delivery team of innovation technologists with backgrounds in both academia and industry.”

The HTC, based at the University’s Singleton campus, is part of the £24 million Accelerate programme, a partnership led by the Life Sciences Hub with Swansea University, Cardiff University and University of Wales Trinity St David are supporting our staff to refine and develop the system.

Swansea University