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Award-winning digital system saving time for staff during COVID-19

21 January 2021

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has created digital COVID-19 antibody and swab testing services which have saved staff at its local hospitals 2,000 administrative hours in just three months. The digital system recently won the ‘Caring and Sharing’ category at the NDL Awards and £500 for Bay Hospitals Charity.

Before switching to the digital services, staff had to manually input information into the Trust’s Electronic Patient Record and inform patients of their results via telephone. Patients now fill in their information into an electronic form to book an appointment slot and following their test they will receive an email or SMS text containing their results. If a patient tests positive for coronavirus, a member of staff will follow up with their results.

By switching both processes to a digital platform, UHMBT has increased capacity for COVID-19 antibody and swab tests to over 200 a day. Across two of its main hospitals in Barrow and Lancaster the Trust has been able to process 4,000 tests during a three-month project period, report 100% of positive results, within 24 hours, report 95% of negative results, within 24 hours and roll out the service to the Pre-Operative department to book patients for a COVID-19 Swab test close to their day of surgery.

The antibody test has benefitted key workers from some of our Bay Health and Care Partners (Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group, UHMBT, GPs, Integrated Care Communities, North West Ambulance Service and local councils) as well as wider partners including Lancashire Police, the local fire service, teaching staff, social care and primary care staff. The swab test is open to key workers and UHMBT preoperative patients. Following the success of the project, UHMBT is now developing the technology to enable care homes across the Bay to have a secure view of results of residents as they become available.

The project has been led by Marc Hadwin, Head of Digital Services UHMBT supported by NDL (a Robotic Process Automation, Mobile Apps and eForms software company).

Marc said: “Patient satisfaction has improved through being able to choose a slot of their convenience and using the booking service at a time of day that suits them – after midnight in many cases.”

Laura Neal, Associate Chief Nurse, UHMBT, said: “Our patient experience has been enhanced, improved and supported with digital advancement. People who have used our services, describe the service as wonderful, prompt, and professional, whereby people feel as though they are treated as a person and not a number.”

UHMBT is also now on trajectory to be the best performing Trust in the North West (currently in second position) for participation in the SIREN study and has significantly increased coverage and participation in associated research.