Executive Medical Director, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Medic Bleep was used for everything from arranging shift cover to sharing patient observations. Communication became more efficient: contact with other clinicians could be made much more easily than with a pager, and responses were much quicker. All the time we saved was spent caring for patients. We benefited but, more importantly, our patients benefited too.
Medic Bleep is not technologically complex, but it carries considerable potential benefit to service quality and efficiency of a Trust’s operations. This comes about not merely from replacing most present uses of the current pager system, but from studied redesign of those processes that most depend upon efficient and timely communication between staff.
Frontline clinical staff communication across and within teams has been the least impacted by most IT developments. Many staff resort to using unapproved apps, such as WhatsApp and, for that reason, Medic Bleep offers a scale of benefit that will be disproportionate to its cost.
The recent Medic Bleep pilot programme at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust identified reasonably immediate productivity gains, time saving, and service improvements. The pilot focused on making the inpatient discharge process more efficient. This pilot has evidenced a worthwhile return on investment that would be even more productive with further processes that Medic Bleep can help to re-engineer (e.g. earlier escalation of care, faster TTOs, booking blood tests).
At 95% confidence intervals, Medic Bleep saved
Nurses: 10 minutes per TTO and 11 minutes per Patient Review – a saving of 21 minutes per shift, the equivalent of 18 full time nurses if implemented across the hospital.
Junior Doctors: 10 minutes per Patient Review – a saving of 48 minutes per shift, the equivalent of 18 full time junior doctors if implemented across the hospital.
Staff experienced a significant improvement on response time with Medic Bleep. Question from qualitative questionnaire: ‘On average how long do you wait for a response in your base ward before you can complete your patient’s management discharge plan?’
The total economic benefit of the staff savings alone amount to £1.3M per annum - based upon average earnings for FT nurse of £25k, for junior doctor of £35k, with 20% employer overhead. In addition we assume two-thirds of the costs of the current pager system can be decommissioned, equating to £20k per annum.