New technology is benefiting Barrow patients living with respiratory conditions

A team of nurses have improved the way patients living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) are discharged from Furness General Hospital (FGH) onto the Furness Respiratory Care Team in the community. 

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) is responsible for caring for patients with COPD, when they are in hospital. Once discharged from FGH, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) is then responsible for their on-going care at home.

The idea to improve the way patients are referred onto the Furness Respiratory Care Team sparked after Jennifer Seward, Clinical Leader on Ward 7 at FGH, looked at the way the patients were referred between the teams. 

Jennifer said: “We used to refer patients to the Respiratory Care Team by fax, which was an old-fashioned and unreliable way to communicate. For example, they can run out of paper so the person on the receiving end may not receive all the necessary paper-work or patients notes.

“Patients are now referred using a new electronic referral system called Strata - an e-referral system which enables patients to move seamlessly between different care organisations such as UHMBT and CPFT.”

The Strata system is used by hospitals and community services and enables electronic patient referrals between different health and social care sectors and providers in Cumbria and North Lancashire. Benefits of the Strata system include:

  • A reduction in the number of delays caused by low-quality referral information
  • Provides real-time feedback to referrers, reducing the number of follow up calls required to ‘chase’ referrals
  • Reduction in the volume of re-work necessary to process referrals - staff at both organisations no longer needing to input the same data into separate systems
  • Improved business intelligence enabling identification of opportunities to improve performance through timeliness of referral and reduce the number of patients waiting longer in hospital whilst their referral is being processed 
  • Reduction in the time it takes staff to make a referral 
  • Increase in data quality and accuracy 

Jenny continues: “Since the project was launched, feedback from the clinicians using it has been very positive who feel it is quicker and easier to use. The project has not only meant improvements for patients and staff, but it has also allowed us to improve the working relationships between the two trusts.” 

Helen Haney, Respiratory Nurse for the CPFT Furness Respiratory Care Team, said: “Receiving referrals by Strata is a safer system than previously used. I liaise closely with the Respiratory Nurses at FGH, and visit the wards weekly to help identify patients that are appropriate for referral, and this joint working enables a smoother discharge for our respiratory patients to Community Care.”

Sue Smith, Executive Chief Nurse, UHMBT, said: “It’s really important that patients continue to receive the best possible treatment in their own homes once they have been discharged form hospital. By working closer with those teams already working in the community such as the Furness Respiratory Care Team, local GPs, district nurses and the long-term conditions teams, it is enabling a more joined-up approach to care both in hospital and out of hospital in the community, which can only be positive for the patient.

“The new service is also in line with the Better Care Together strategy that we have been working on with our health and social care partners, which aims to see more patients being treated in their own homes or in a community setting rather than in hospital, where clinically appropriate. Well done to everyone involved!” 

For more information about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, please visit: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease/Pages/Introduction.aspx