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Nuffield Trust uses CareFlow Vitals data to research the scope for safely reducing length of stay

5th April 2019

The Nuffield Trust is using CareFlow Vitals data in an evidence-based research project designed to help inform national policy on the potential for safely reducing patients’ length of stay.

The national think tank is currently recruiting a number of acute Trusts with over five years of vital signs data, captured as part of routine care using System C’s Vitals e-observations software. 

The Nuffield Trust project sets out to understand trends and patterns in the vital signs of patients on admission to hospital, with a particular focus on patients who have been admitted in an emergency.

It builds on the think tank’s programme of work on the quality of care of medical patients, and addresses growing national concern about increases in emergency admissions and the care of patients with long lengths of stay in hospital. 

The data will be analysed to address three primary research questions:

  1. Has there been a change over time in the threshold for emergency admission to hospital, as indicated by physiological stability (EWS) of patients admitted?
  2. Do emergency patient admissions at the weekend have a different physiological profile to those admitted on weekdays?
  3. What is the physiological stability over the course of hospital stay of patients who have a length of stay in hospital of more than five days?

The Nuffield Trust is currently working with the acute Trusts to agree robust arrangements for accessing observation data.  The analysis phase is expected to take place during summer 2019, and the project is expected to be complete by the end of 2019.

The study is also expected to provide participating Trusts with useful intelligence by giving them a picture of their patient population. Read more about the project here.

Monitoring patients’ vital signs (such as blood pressure, oxygen levels and pulse) is a fundamental part of clinical care in hospital.  Failure to monitor vital signs, and act when they indicate the patient's condition is deteriorating, has been identified as a safety issue for some time.  Early warning scores are also used to identify patients at risk of adverse outcomes, such as cardiac arrest, unanticipated intensive care unit admission or death.

System C’s CareFlow Vitals software (formerly known as Vitalpac) was the first electronic system for monitoring patients’ vital signs, pioneering their use globally, and was at the forefront of the development of the National Early Warning Score system.

The impact of Vitals has also been the subject of numerous academic studies.

“We are very supportive of formal evidence-based research into the benefits of clinical systems for patient care”, said Markus Bolton, joint chief executive of System C.  “This sort of research is all the more important today as health and care services transform themselves to cope with an ageing population.”

CareFlow Vitals has been rolled out in over 30 Trusts, covering more than 750 wards and capturing over 6.5 million observations a month.