Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, hospitals, air ambulances, critical care transfer teams and first aid providers found themselves under constant pressure to provide excellent patient care and to meet the requirements associated with clinical governance.
Clinical governance was put in place to “tackle the wide differences in quality of care throughout Britain” and was “also a response to recent and major failures in NHS standards.” (source Gov.uk). By having this system in place it helps reassure the public that care they are receiving is of a high standard and that health organisations are using it to constantly improve their services.
For most health organisations providing the regulatory information needed for Clinical Commissioning Groups and Care Quality Commissions can be a time consuming process which uses up a lot of resources at a time when they are already stretched thin.
However, organisations which have moved away from paper based systems and are using software solutions are finding these tasks much easier. In this article I’m going to look at the three main ways in which technology can supercharge clinical governance and make compliance easier than ever before.
The three areas that will be covered are Simplicity, Speed and Accuracy.
One of the common headaches experienced by medical professionals is the multitude of systems that they need to use (not to mention the array of passwords required to access them!), some may be digital and some may still be paper based.
This is where implementing a software solution to digitise your patient records and medicine management really helps – by reducing complexity. If doctors, nurses and paramedics are busy all the time expecting them to stay on top of multiple systems is adding extra pressure but by moving to an all-in-one system it helps ease the burden. And by making it easier to use it boosts adoption levels from users.
Additional benefits you get with a solely software based approach relate to back up and offline working. Your data will be regularly backed up giving you peace of mind that it is safe, whereas with a full or partial paper based system these records are at risk of being lost or damaged, from something innocuous like a spilt cup of coffee all the way up to a fire or a flood.
Choosing a piece of software that also offers offline data capture means you will never have to switch back to paper notes should you lose your internet connection, so everything is kept consistent and all in one place. This is something we are able to provide with ARCEMS due to it being a native iOS app.
Retrieving and compiling the necessary information required for Clinical Commissioning Groups and/or Care Quality Commissions can be a very time consuming process if all or part of it needs to be done manually using paper notes or involves compiling information together from multiple systems.
However if you are using a digital-only all-in-one approach then this should go from being a dreaded task to a very straightforward one done in a fraction of the time.
Software with in-built reporting features now make the process of retrieving data easy with a either a range of off the shelf reports or the ability to build bespoke reports with a few clicks. Having digital data means you can search fast and also gives you the ability to create highly specific and detailed reports which can be used as evidence during any CQC reviews.
For example within ARCEMS our Audit Tool and Reports functionality lets you search your own data down as far as you need. In the example shown below we are looking at how many Defibrillation interventions a specific crew member has carried out.
This report was built in seconds with just a few clicks, just another example of how it can enhance your compliance.
Hopefully this starts to show the potential power you’d have at your fingertips and how much you can analyse your data. This could also be used internally to review crew members capabilities and training needs. For example, you can see when was the last time Crew Member X carried out intervention Y to see if any refresher training is required.
The final area I will look at that is benefited by using software for your compliance and governance is perhaps the most important one – accuracy.
Clinical governance is all about the details so you need to ensure that all of your records are accurate as they will be scrutinised to the nth degree. For example in the event of a patient review you could be asked the exact time at which a specific intervention was carried out and by whom. You need to ensure you have full auditable logs for everything like this.
This is where software can really help out.
Using our ARCEMS software as an example, every incident, deployment, survey, intervention, injury, drug prescribed and more is recorded and timestamped down to an individual patient level as standard. This gives you a complete view of the activities carried out by the HEMS crew and how and when care was delivered. This can all be accessed easily for use in monthly clinical governance meetings.
Consistency is a key aspect of how accurate your records will be, but it can be hard to achieve. For example, on a HEMS mission, things can be highly stressful with a lot going on, which means it could be hard to ensure a consistent recording of data when not using software as paper notes are taken as and when the crew member gets a change. However with software you have a set process that must be followed. Take patient record forms (PRFs) these could vary depending on the individual completing them not to mention any bad handwriting issues.
Using EPRFs (electronic patient record forms) like the example below from ARCEMS it removes any discrepancies and ensures consistency across the board.
These accurate records are then available to be passed onto the receiving hospital in a clear and easy to understand form, which makes their job of providing ongoing patient care easier by seeing clearly what has already been done.
One of the main issues affecting accuracy of patient information is human error. This could be simply forgetting to record a specific observation or entering an incorrect value.
Again these are areas that can be helped through software. Firstly by ensuring that key information is marked as a required field it means this can’t be missed/skipped. Secondly you can set alerts to show if any data entered is in the wrong format or is outside of the expected parameters. The example below from ARCEMS shows what happens if you enter blood pressure values in the wrong format. Little touches like this all help contribute to increased data accuracy.
The final improvement in accuracy that you’ll see with a software solution is that as data is entered e.g. during a HEMS deployment, it is added to the system immediately which means that when you are running reports you will have the most up to date live information available to you.
Find out more
If your health organisation is looking to make the switch away from paper records then we can help you make the move. Our ARCEMS software is an all-in-one mobile EPRF and compliance solution designed alongside EMS experts. Used by leading air ambulance charities, ARCEMS is proven to make clinical governance much more efficient for our customers.
Get in touch with us today via the contact form below and our team will be in touch to arrange a free no obligation demo of our software.