A pilot project, the first of its kind in Sweden, is currently underway in Region Värmland to connect Getinge's digital patient flow system INSIGHT to Torsby Hospital, two clinics and two municipal businesses. The system will provide an easy overview of real-time patient information and the hope is that it will reduce unnecessary load on inpatient care.
Swedish Region Värmland faces the same challenges as the rest of the country: an increasing and aging population, and an increase in comorbidity. The region also has a shortage of caregivers and needs to use current resources more efficiently.
"We saw INSIGHT as part of a logistics solution that allows us to easily follow a patient's journey through the system on intuitive screens. It also gives us an overview of where beds are available," says Tobias Kjellberg, Health care Director at Region Värmland.
Connecting INSIGHT to two clinics and two municipal businesses also offers the opportunity to reach greater heights by providing staff with information on patients who run a high risk of being re-hospitalized. This aims to decrease pressure on the health care system while focusing more strongly on the patient.
"We are now testing whether we can change our work methods. If we can, I am convinced that the information the system supplies will allow us to more quickly send patients to the right care facility, thereby reducing the load on inpatient care, which is considerably more expensive than outpatient care," Tobias explains.
Anders Danielsson agrees. Anders is Project Manager of Healthcare Logistics Systems in Region Värmland and coordinator of the project that includes participants from the region, the hospital, the clinics, the municipal businesses, and Getinge.
"INSIGHT provides much appreciated added value, though in these early stages, it entails extra work since we are simultaneously using another patient data system. We need better integration, which is something we are looking into in this pilot."
Though the project is still ongoing, it has made an impression on the Torsby Hospital staff.
"Before INSIGHT, we lacked a good overview. We couldn't see the total load, nor could we follow the patient's journey through the healthcare system," says Ulla Hens, Developer of Operations at the hospital.
Now, all department heads meet each morning to discuss the number of occupied beds, as shown on their screens. Everyone sees the same information, making it easy to allocate resources and apportion the load between departments.
"It feels safer for the patient now that we have an overview of the entire flow. Information entered into the system is invaluable. For example, when a ward indicates that a patient is in need of physiotherapy, the physiotherapist sees it on their screen and can prepare for the patient visit. Before, we spent much more time on the phone and running around with reports."
Previously, the patient flow was drawn up on a whiteboard in varying colors and handwriting. Important information could all too easily be erased, or remain on the board when it should have been erased.
"If someone happened to sloppily write that a patient would be x-rayed at 18:00, but someone else read it as 10:00, the patient would have an unnecessarily long wait. Now, there is much less risk of misunderstanding," says Anna Lind, Receptionist and Coordinator of the orthopedic department.
Eva Dahlén, Operations Manager and Internal Medicine Consultant, now starts and finishes each workday in the emergency room getting an overview of the current situation from the screen.
"For us, it's been an improvement in quality. We clearly see who is caring for whom and what the next steps are. We harness this information to better manage our departments and to redirect where necessary, evening out the load on the healthcare system."
When the pilot project is finished, it will be thoroughly evaluated by all stakeholders.
"If we are happy with the outcome, we may choose a wide-scale roll out to connect all of the region's health care facilities and thus fully harness the benefits of this solution. Hopefully we will also be able to include mobile health care," Anders tells.
Region Värmland and Getinge are very positive to this type of partnership – one that involves the customer in the innovation process and creates value above and beyond digitalization of patient flows.
"Our goal is more efficient patient care at the right healthcare level. If we succeed at this, there will be fewer patients being shuffled around different healthcare facilities," says Anders.