Automating patient check-in at Royal Stoke University Hospital has helped streamline patient flows and free staff, and nurses especially, to focus on essential clinical work.
There are no reception staff at the main outpatient department. Instead there are six floor mounted check-in kiosks and a team of volunteers to lend a hand. The department deals with an average 1,800 patients every day so a fast and efficient check-in service is vital.
Before going live at the new Royal Stoke hospital in 2012, Savience’s solution was tested at the old North Staffordshire hospital for a year. Here all patients waited in the main waiting area until they were called in batches over a Tannoy to the sub-wait areas and consulting rooms. They were then required to check-in at the individual clinic reception areas and subsequently wait again until the clinical team were ready to see them. This led to frustration for patients and made it difficult for staff to pinpoint patients’ exact whereabouts, leading to further delays.
Despite the constraints of the old building, the team were able to develop and embed new working and waiting practices. This initial development helped to address the waiting and queuing inefficiencies and provide a blueprint for the move to the new hospital in July 2012.
Now, all patients attending the new hospital arrive at one main atrium. There are six check-in kiosks, along with large format screens, which display waiting times for each clinic. Volunteers help with arrivals while the system handles all aspects of patient flow, guiding people from the atrium to one of 20 wait and sub-wait areas across the hospital.
Sub-wait areas are pre-filled with patients by the solution, which automatically calls a new patient through to fill spaces once they become available. Careful analysis of the numbers of patients and accompanying relatives was carried out to ensure that the pre-filling of sub-wait areas was forecast accurately. Patients are subsequently called from the waiting areas into the appropriate clinic or treatment room.
Wireless, computers on wheels (COWs) give nursing staff an up to date view of each clinic and a patient’s whereabouts.
Patient flow is far smoother and calmer. Clinical staff now know precisely where patients are at each stage of their clinic visit. Nursing and administrative time is now more focused on providing care. Keeping patients informed has helped create a more relaxed atmosphere and less frustration.
The Savience solution includes its Patient Check-in, Clarity, Call-out and Pathfinder modules. A real-time bi-directional HL7 interface to the hospital’s i.PM patient administration system (PAS) and Savience Check-in module, means that once a patient arrives, the PAS is updated instantly. Similarly, any changes made in the PAS, with new appointment times for example, are immediately reflected in the Check-in module ensuring patients are presented with exact, up-to-date details on arrival.
The solution has since been extended, using a similar approach to check-in for radiology appointments.The interfaces ensure that any patient arriving for an appointment can use any of the kiosks. The arrival message is sent to the appropriate system, PAS or radiology information system.
Since March 2016, patients have been able to check-in via a mobile app, jointly developed by Savience, WiFi Spark and Royal Stoke University Hospital. The app is fully integrated with the core Savience applications and will alert staff that the patient is on site and ready to start their clinical workflow. The app has been subject to rigorous user acceptance testing to ensure complete compliance with information governance protocols.
About the Trust
Based in Stoke-on-Trent, Royal Stoke University Hospital is part of University Hospital North Midlands NHS Trust. The trust treats 900,000 people each year at its emergency departments, and in planned operations and medical care and is a teaching hospital in partnership with Keele University. Services are provided across two hospitals; Royal Stoke and the County Hospital in Stafford.