75 physicians trial digital solution at Aalborg University Hospital’s A&E department
At Aalborg University Hospital’s A&E department, physicians have run a second trial of a digital solution aimed at optimising coordination and communication, and they already experience working days with significantly fewer interruptions and a better overview.
The Danish accident and emergency (A&E) departments are hectic working environments for all occupational groups. The physicians’ working days are characterised by numerous patient-related calls and changes, which makes it difficult for them to maintain a sense of overview and to stay focused on the individual patient. In light of the large number of admissions, the physicians are required to quickly prioritise and distribute the most critically ill patients, and here they need a tool that enables them to efficiently coordinate while giving them an insight into their colleagues’ workloads as well as the possibility of admitting new patients.
Two pilot trials in three months
To address the challenges faced by the physicians, to minimise the risk of stress and burn-out and to reduce diagnosis times while minimising the risk of errors, Systematic has, in close cooperation with the clinicians, developed a solution that supports coordination, communication and diagnosis. The project is an innovation project supported by Innovation Fund Denmark, and is being developed through a collaboration between Aarhus University Hospital, Aarhus University, Aalborg University Hospital and Systematic.
In June 2022, the solution was tested by eight physicians working at the A&E department at Aalborg University Hospital in northern Jutland, and during the summer their input was used to develop new functionality and to optimise the solution. In September 2022, the solution was trialled a second time, on this occasion over five days (26 September – 2 October), including shift changes. The trial involved the following physicians and functions:
- 8 coordinating senior physicians
- 4 coordinating physicians on call
- 56 residents on call
- 9 senior physicians on call
- 2 physicians on call
Fewer interruptions and greater calm
Several of the participating physicians commented on how the solution made a significant difference to the number of interruptions during the clinical work with the patient, and after the trial, one of the coordinating senior physicians on call said:
“It’s going so well; I have an overview of what’s happening, and my phone rings much less. I have more time to think things through without being disturbed. I’ve never experienced a pilot trial that has gone as well as this.”
“It gives a much greater sense of calm. There aren’t nearly as many interruptions. I’m the one who decides and allocates tasks – before, the telephone rang constantly. They (the residents on call, Ed.) write when they can admit patients, and when they go off to lunch. It all makes my work as a coordinating physician much easier – I don’t have to make nearly as many phone calls as before. Which is really good,” said another coordinating senior physician on call.
The residents on call were also enthusiastic about the mobile app, with one of them saying:
“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 definite desire for the solution to eventually be extended to include the nurses, so they could avoid the same sorts of interruptions when attending to patients and enable them to coordinate relevant patient information with physicians and nursing colleagues in writing via the solution instead of making calls. At the same time, it would ensure that the general overview also included the nurses’ workload, which patients they are responsible for, and at what stage the patients are in their diagnosis.
Closer collaboration and communication around the patient
The second round of the trial has confirmed the results from the first pilot trial and shown that the solution works in practice and with a much higher number of users and patients. During the second trial, which lasted almost 42 hours, a total of 761 messages were sent via the solution, and 73 conference tasks were created – in other words tasks where a resident on call needs to discuss a patient’s clinical situation with a senior physician on call. A total of 170 patients were assigned to the residents on call via the solution.
One of the coordinating physicians on call said, among other things, how the solution was used to see how much progress the residents on call have made in terms of assessing the patient:
“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,” said one of the coordinating physicians on call, who at that point had 17 physicians to allocate patients to in the solution.
The two trials have shown that far fewer coordinating and clarifying phone calls were made concerning patient allocation between the coordinating senior physician and the residents on call. The distribution of patients to the relevant residents on call has happened digitally, and the integrated messaging platform has made it easier to get an overview of when the residents on call are ready to receive a new patient within the relevant speciality. At the same time, a resident on call can use the solution to ask a senior physician on call to discuss a diagnosis and treatment plan for a patient, and to meet at their convenience – rather than making a potentially disturbing phone call.
“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. I’m impressed with the way in which the physicians in the A&E department have taken ownership of the solution and its development, and the difference which the physicians say the solution has already made to their working environment,” says Lene Buch, Senior Domain Advisor, Systematic.
Smart and efficient patient administration
Columna Flow Clinical Tasking is a mobile solution which has been developed to ensure a reliable and efficient patient flow for hospital physicians. The solution makes it possible to communicate directly with colleagues via a secure messaging platform and ensures easier patient coordination, allocation and prioritisation. The list of patient-related tasks and the responsible physician is displayed in real time, and a task is always linked to a patient. This reduces the risk of communication errors, optimises collaboration, cuts the number of interruptions and reduces the number of double entries.
Learn more about the solution and the possibilities of running a pilot
After two succesful pilot projects at Aalborg University Hospital, we are open to new pilot projects for our digital solution targeted at physicians in accident and emergency departments: Columna Flow Clinical Tasking.
Are you interested in a demo of the solution or learning more about the opportunities with a pilot, please reach out to us by filling out below form.
The pilot project in brief
- The solution is being 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 Hospitals, Innovation Fund Denmark and Systematic.
- The first version of the solution was trialled at Aalborg University Hospital on 8-10 June 2022.
Facts about Aalborg University Hospital
- 929+ beds
- Approx. 6,500 employees
- Denmark’s fourth-largest hospital
- Covers Aalborg University Hospital, South Aalborg, North Aalborg, Havrevangen, Hobro, Farsø, Thisted, departments in Frederikshavn, Hjørring.
- Number 22 on Newsweek’s list of the world’s best smart hospitals