By Unify

12 May 2014

There is no doubt that the innovative use of technology within the UK’s public sector is fast becoming paramount to civil servants’ ability to deliver positive outcomes. 

This is especially the case in the healthcare sector where the need to ensure that when something happens, calls get through to the right person immediately – as the right answer at the right time could often mean the difference between life and death. Yet, as it stands, there are only a handful of healthcare providers that make the most of intelligent, collaborative communication technology solutions.

There are many reasons for this – the cost of technological advancement being key amongst these. For civil servants, and especially CIOs, in healthcare it is not just about procuring the best, most effective technology; it is about saving lives and improving patient outcomes all whilst saving costs for their organisations.

The question is just, ‘how can healthcare CIOs make this work?’ The answer of course is to follow in the footsteps of successful healthcare organisations.

One such a success story is Birmingham Children’s Hospital, which implemented the Kids Intensive Care and Decision Support (KIDS) service. This 24/7 telephony-based service provides urgently needed assistance to clinicians in hospitals across the West Midlands who are treating critically ill babies, children and young people. 

Real world application
Birmingham Children’s Hospital, a leading UK provider of children’s health services, fully appreciates how vital a reliable and effective communications platform is to the wellbeing of patients.

The hospital serves over 240,000 patients a year and acts as a hub for the surrounding 20 district hospitals with a 31-bed paediatric ICU at the city centre site. It is already well known for its leading specialists in areas such as heart surgery, liver surgery and oncology. As part of this specialist care, the Kids Intensive Care and Decision Support (KIDS) service was set up in 2009. To provide urgently needed assistance to clinicians in hospitals across the West Midlands who are treating critically ill babies, children and young people. 

KIDS run a 24-hour operation and requires an efficient and reliable system that enhances logistical and clinical decision making for the KIDS team. In fact, all calls to the KIDS 24/7 referral single number hotline are immediately assessed, managed and triaged by the KIDS consultant pediatric intensivist in conjunction with other specialists. This means that the system needs to be able to bring together the right doctors, nurses and specialists at the right time and with the necessary speed and effectiveness in order to handle the 1,600 complex unplanned emergency conference calls that occur each year.

Whilst most local hospitals have a children’s ward and an A&E department, the reality is that some visitors may need expert advice or transferring elsewhere for specialist care. As a result of this demand the KIDS service grew not only in size but importance.  When the unit moved to a new building in the hospital, staff took the opportunity to redesign its communications infrastructure.

Having trusted Unify, the industry’s leading Unified Communicaitons (UC) expert, formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications, with the previous system and having been a customer for the last 15 years, Birmingham Children’s Hospital called upon the team again to help implement a state-of-the-art communications platform. OpenScape Xpert, a reliable, multi-line communications solution, was deployed in the main hub of the KIDS service, marking the first European healthcare deployment of its kind.

For the Birmingham Children’s Hospital team mobility is key to the delivery of fast, positive patient outcomes which is why it was important that the solution they chose be able to help them break down the walls within the hospital to allow a much freer movement of information between colleagues. As such, the system has been designed so that it significantly enhances logistical and clinical decision making for the KIDS team. It also speeds up transport team dispatch and support which is vital to improving the delivery of timely solutions to critically ill babies, children and teenagers across the West Midlands.

Phil Wilson, KIDS Lead Nurse at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, says: “KIDS is delighted to have had the opportunity to work with Unify to develop and implement the OpenScape Xpert platform. The additional flexibility and utility of this system allows users to be transferred between calls, to leave and rejoin, and allows the KIDS operator to create and deconstruct conferences whilst still holding individual personnel on the console. This allows expert medical staff and other key personnel to be maneuvered into and out of whichever call they are needed, so that more than one case and complex discussions can take place simultaneously. 

“This facilitates rapid resolution of clinical and logistical intricacies to the benefit of patients and families. The touchscreen console is simple to set up, and means the call handling environment is visualised, facilitating logical and intuitive conference call management.”

As a result of implementing Unify’s next generation technologies, Birmingham Children’s Hospital is really setting the standard in terms of highly-responsive patient-care and is incredibly well positioned for the future. Collaborative and intuitive communications platforms such as OpenScape Xpert have huge potential to bring about new, improved ways of working.

Concern for the patient is the driving force at the heart of the hospital’s decision-making. By deciding to implement an entirely new, innovative communications suite, Birmingham Children’s Hospital chose to make a difference to the level of care they could provide to children and young people in need. By improving the system in the present, they have prepared for advancement in the future as well, and the open standards solution will shape and refine as the service itself continues to expand. 


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