Digital solution provides greater calm and overview in a Danish emergency department
Physicians in the accident and emergency (A&E) department at Aalborg University Hospital (AUH) have recently tested a digital solution to communicate and coordinate tasks and they quickly experienced a workday with significantly fewer interruptions and a better overview of things.
Danish A&E departments are characterized by a hectic working environment for all professional groups. Physicians' workdays are filled with patient-related calls and topic changes, making it challenging to maintain an overview and focus on the individual patients. The high number of patients demands quick prioritisation and distribution of the most critically ill patients. Here physicians need a tool to quickly coordinate and gain insight into other colleagues' workloads.
To meet physicians' challenges, Systematic developed an app in collaboration with computer scientists from Aarhus University and clinicians from Aarhus and Aalborg University Hospitals. The first pilot testing of Columna Flow Clinical Tasking took place in June 2022. For three days, three senior physicians on call and five on-call residents in the emergency department at Aalborg University Hospital were equipped with phones connected directly to the app. The eight involved handled well over a third of the total patient flow during the period. After just a few hours, several of the physicians noticed that the collaboration had become both easier and closer via the solution's message function.
The solution was tested for a second time, this time over five days in September. This included shift changes. The trial involved the following doctors and functions:
- 8 coordinating senior physicians
- 4 coordinating physicians on call
- 56 residents on call
- 9 senior physicians on call
- 2 physicians on call
The second round of testing confirmed the pilot results and showed that the solution works in practice and also when used by a larger number of users and patients. Physicians report significant improvements in their workflows; patients have been digitally assigned to a resident on call and the built-in messaging platform has made it easier to see when the residents on call are ready to receive new patients. As a result, they have made far fewer coordinating and clarifying calls.
"It’s wonderful being able to see how far the residents on call have come in diagnosing the patients. I don’t like putting them under pressure by calling the whole time to find out what sort of progress they’re making. It provides a far better overview than we have at present," says a coordinating physician on call, who at the time had 17 physicians to distribute patients to in the solution.
Several of the physicians also noted that the solution drastically reduced how often they were interrupted in their clinical work with the patients. "It's going so well. I have an overview and the phone rings much less. I have more time to finish thinking without being disturbed. I have never had a pilot test that went so well," said one of the coordinating senior physicians after the pilot.
Residents on call were also enthusiastic about the mobile app.
“It’s fantastic. It provides a clear overview of the patients, you can check things off on it, and it can also be used to call and text messages. It can replace all the other telephones and the pager. All we need is for my own senior physicians on call and the nurses in the department to have it,” said a physician on call from speciality.
In general, there was a strong desire for the solution to eventually include nurses, so they too can reap the benefits of an efficient digital workflow. At the same time, it would ensure that the overall view also includes the nurses' workload, the patients they are responsible for and the stage of the patients’ assessment.
At Systematic, we are responsive to participants' feedback.
"The solution has been developed and optimised in close collaboration with the physicians at the A&E department at Aalborg University Hospital. The close collaboration and honest feedback during the trial periods has been crucial for being able to develop an effective solution that supports the physicians’ work processes," says Lene Buch, Senior Domain Advisor at Sytematic.
Columna Flow Clinical Tasking is a mobile solution developed to ensure a safe and efficient patient flow for the doctors in hospital departments. The solution makes it possible to communicate directly with colleagues via a secure messaging platform and ensures easier coordination, distribution, and prioritization of patients. The list of patient-related tasks and the responsible physician are shown in real time, and a task is always linked to a patient. It reduces the risk of communication errors, optimizes collaboration, reduces interruptions, and reduces the number of double registrations.
After two successful pilot projects at Aalborg University Hospital, we are open to new pilot projects with our digital solution in the emergency department: Columna Flow Clinical Tasking. If you are interested in hearing more about the options for a pilot or would like a demo of the solution, reach out to us via the form below.
The pilot project in brief
- The solution has been developed in collaboration between IT experts from Systematic, computer scientists from Aarhus University and clinicians from the university hospitals in Aarhus and Aalborg
- The project is financed by Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus University, Aalborg University Hospital, the Innovation Fund and Systematic
- The first version of the solution has been tested at Aalborg University Hospital on 8-10 June 2022 and the second pilot was deployed during 26-30 September 2022.
Facts about Aalborg University Hospital
- 929 beds
- 6,500 employees
- Denmark's fourth largest hospital
- Covers Aalborg University Hospital, South, North, Hobro, Farsø, Thisted, Frederikshavn, Hjørring and Havrevangen, Aalborg
- Number 22 on Newsweek's list of the world's best hospitals