Leeds Teaching Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust (LTHT) is using technology from Zebra Technologies to help it better track patient journeys using wristbands.
Wristbands have long been worn by patients as identification devices, and used to help staff track patients’ needs and their routes around a hospital. But on its own, a wristband can be an imperfect solution.
Zebra Technologies’ Scan4Safety programme uses a special wristband printer, the Zebra HC100 printer, along with Z-Band Ultrasoft wristbands as the core of a system which provides enhanced patient tracking services.
The printer produces a wristband that’s compatible with the Scan4Safety barcode identification programme, which allows a hospital to track a patient all the way through their hospital journey, from admission to discharge. Wristbands are printed for Accident and Emergency admissions, for example, and for newborns.
Speaking to Internet of Business, Zebra’s EMEA healthcare director Wayne Miller explained: “The new wristband enables a digital voice for the patient, taking the patient’s ID data placed into a barcode – name, date of birth and NHS number. This digital voice becomes the password to the patient’s electric file. Scan4Safety records the ‘who, what, when, where’ for patient care, allowing an accurate record for both safety and accountancy.”
Safety at scale
Scanning wristbands at each point of care, the hospital can better ensure patients receive the right treatment, reducing errors and delays. Leeds Teaching Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust (LTHT) is one of the largest teaching hospitals in Europe, with more than 17,000 staff across seven hospitals. It uses in excess of 250,000 wristbands per year.
The Scan4Health system uses GS1 global standards for capturing and sharing information. This is the standard that the Department of Health has set as the standard for care in the UK by 2019, so the system is helping Leeds Teaching Hospitals National Health Service (NHS) Trust (LTHT) move towards compliance.
The system has been well-received by clinical staff. The Zebra HC100 printers are small, reliable and easy to use. Wristbands are printed from fast-load cartridges that remove the complexity of media loading associated with traditional barcode printers. Moreover, the wristbands are made of healthcare plastics that support LTHT’s infection control regime.
Other Trusts including Plymouth Hospital NHS Trust, North Tees and Salisbury have either deployed or are trialling the Zebra solution, and early results from six pilot projects suggest that Scan4Safety has the potential to save lives, as well as potentially save the NHS up to £1 billion over seven years.
Miller says that the technology also has applications outside of hospital environments, in other healthcare situations. “Can we extend the use of the digital voice outside the hospital? Yes we can,” he told Internet of Business. “It may not be in the form of a wristband, but we can use other methods, such as ID cards, prescriptions with a barcode and, in the coming years, personal electronic devices such as smartphones with biometric readers.”