Unblocking beds through IT

The issue of ‘bed blocking’ (delayed hospital discharges) is continuing to worsen across England and Scotland, contributing to long delays in A&E and even relapses in patient health. NHS Scotland has just received a £100M funding injection to help tackle the problem, yet, while there’s never one single magic bullet solution, in fact some of the most basic underlying factors can be easily resolved through simple IT.

Recently published figures have revealed that, in December 2014, 139,156 bed days were unavailable to incoming patients in England due to unnecessarily occupied beds. In Scotland, it was 57,187, with the number of patients waiting longer than four weeks to be discharged after being deemed clinically ready, continuing to rise.

Ethitec Managing Director, Simon Taylor, explained: “One of the reasons for delayed discharges is services not having the necessary community equipment or home adaptions in place in time, meaning that clinically ready patients are unable to return home.

“To help solve this, and meet the Scottish Health Secretary, Shona Robinson’s target to get the clinical readiness to discharge times down to 72 hours; it’s crucial that councils and community equipment services work seamlessly together with the NHS to ensure that the necessary equipment is ready in time. And that’s exactly where IT comes in.”

The comprehensive equipment loan management solution, ELMS2, has been specifically designed by Ethitec to support the efficient management of integrated community equipment services, wheelchair services, and other areas of NHS and social care supplies. The system automatically flags any equipment that is necessary for a hospital discharge in advance of it being required, ensuring its delivery is prioritised.

Taylor continues: “It’s the system’s interoperability that enables this simple, joined-up approach. ELMS2 and its sister product (the patient information management system, Tiara9) are both designed to interface and communicate with other NHS and local authority IT systems, and staff, ensuring easy access and automated access to necessary data.

“Simply by getting different IT systems to talk to each other, and putting simple measures in place, we can help ensure no one remains stuck in hospital for any longer than they really need to be.”

Interoperable IT plays a key role in the government and HSCIC’s vision to deliver an integrated health and social care service; and was one of the main topics at this year’s eHealth Scotland 2015 conference, where Ethitec exhibited.


You can contact Ethitec by calling us on +44 (0)116 247 0806 or using the contact form.