MEDICS at Southampton hospital are to have patients’ records at their fingertips following a £10m high-tech upgrade.

Interactive whiteboards display information taken directly from a patient’s electronic record, including clinical alerts such as existing medical conditions, length of admission and predicted discharge date.

It also acts as a tracking system to identify what is preventing discharge when patients are medically fit to leave hospital.

Previously, this information was written on boards by hand when patients were moved, which required staff to take time out to interpret and re-write a patient’s notes and increased the risk of inaccuracies during translation.

But now it is hoped the rollout, which began on the older people’s wards at Southampton General Hospital, will be completed on all wards by the end of the year.

It forms part of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust’s selection as one of 16 digital centres of excellence by the Department of Health, known as global digital exemplars.

The four-year project will see the trust receive £10 million – doubling investment in the informatics strategy – to pioneer innovations in information management and technology with the aim of becoming a paperless organisation.

Adrian Byrne, director of informatics, said: “This is another important step forward in our drive to enhance the use of digital technology across clinical services.“Replacing handwritten notes on whiteboards may not seem revolutionary, but saving the time taken to write up notes repeatedly when patients move and minimising the risk of inaccuracies is a significant development.”

Nilesh Patel, technical solutions manager, added: “The touchscreen technology provides a modern approach of presenting clinically-relevant information to support patient care and aid decision-making and the interactive application is a fantastic new innovation to help staff care for their patients.”

Nurses and doctors on the older people’s wards were the first to test the system as part of a successful pilot project prior to permanent installation across the trust.

Dr Daniel Baylis, a consultant geriatrician and part of the pilot team, said: “I have been impressed with the intuitive nature of the electronic whiteboards – they are clear and easy to use and successfully support team-working and patient care co-ordination on the wards.”

Katie Prichard-Thomas, divisional head of nursing, added: “This innovation will improve the safety and quality of patient care dramatically and feedback from ward staff has been extremely positive.

“The system assigns relevant clinical alerts to patients, such as conditions like diabetes and dementia, which will be flagged up on future admissions and provide an early warning signal for staff to consider when planning a patient’s care.”