Many NHS services still currently rely on a pager system to communicate patient information between members of staff; while these ‘bleeps’ have the advantage of not relying on Wi-fi or cellular signal, the communication method is one-way, meaning the recipient is unaware who is bleeping, why, or the level of urgency. Work is interrupted, time is wasted, prioritisation is difficult and the evidence trail is limited.
There was a need to explore if there was a different option that could help make working life easier for staff, save time, and improve quality of care for patients whilst also meeting information governance requirements.
Medic Bleep is an app that allows hospital and community staff to communicate in real time, sharing vital information and updates about patients accurately and safely.
Health Innovation East supported West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Medic Bleep to pilot their app as a replacement to the non-emergency pager (some pagers are still used for emergencies such as cardiac arrest). The pilot was conducted in the trauma and orthopaedic ward and maternity ward in collaboration with community midwives. The trust was keen to improve the efficiency of communication within and between teams in the hospital, as well with its primary and community care partners in West Suffolk, with the overall aim to improve patient safety and release time to care for patients.
Following a successful pilot West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust decided to rollout the app across the trust. Health Innovation East supported this full-scale project through the development of a logic model for implementation and the funding of an evaluation of impact.
Medic Bleep has since entered a distribution contract with BT which means it is now part of their offer to hospitals and care facilities across the UK.
The pilot across two wards found a time efficiency saving of 48 minutes per head per shift through a significant reduction in tasks needed to provide patients with the medicines prior to being discharged but this impact was not observed in the wider study across the Trust.
Overall staff who used Medic Bleep found it easy to adopt and 66% completely or somewhat agreed that Medic Bleep was effective. The pilot suggested potential savings of £4.5 million through freeing up the equivalent of 18 full time nurses and 18 full time junior doctors per annum as well as other post care issues caused by poor inter-team communication.
The work on the pilot was shortlisted for the HSJ Awards in 2018 under the ‘Using technology to improve efficiency’ category.
The second evaluation of the wider rollout highlighted that results from the time and motion study were inconclusive. In a complex clinical environment, it is very difficult to show causality and attribute any of these changes directly to the introduction of Medic Bleep and consequently it has not been possible to develop any health economic evidence using robust methodology.
The partnership between Health Innovation East, Medic Bleep and West Suffolk Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been ‘highly commended’ at the HSJ Partnership Awards 2020 in the ‘HealthTech Partnership of the Year’ category.
Read this blog by Pip Hodgson (A&E Nurse and Clinical Adviser to NHSX) on the launch of the NHSX Clinical Communication Tools Framework in August 2020. The framework aims to support NHS organisations with dedicated clinical facing communication and tasks management tools, to accelerate the adoption of proven technologies and to phase out pagers by the end of 2021. Medic Bleep was one of 25 innovations announced within the framework. Find out more here.