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Better, safer Echocardiography service at Portsmouth Hospitals

Fri 4th April, 2014
Better, safer Echocardiography service at Portsmouth Hospitals

Sometimes the simplest of ideas are the most effective. This was evidenced at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust recently, where the team providing inpatient Echocardiography services made changes which have had a fantastic impact on patients and on staff.

Inpatient heart scans have routinely been carried out at the patient’s bedside - a slow and inefficient method. Physiologists were spending up to 25% of their time moving from one location to the next. In addition, back injuries were not uncommon as they sometimes needed to scan across patient beds due to the ward layout. This ‘on the go’ method also meant that report writing was batched to the end of the day, causing delays in diagnoses.

This is a busy service, with almost 5,500 inpatient ultrasound examinations requested every year, so it was clear that improvement was needed. The team “embraced change enthusiastically”, working together to come up with big impact actions and taking ownership of making them happen.

The main solution was to change the location of scans away from wards to the Echocardiography Department, employing two dedicated porters to transport patients. This was piloted for an initial three months and has made a major difference to the efficiency of the service:

  • Productivity has increased by up to 25%
  • 73% of patients requiring a scan are seen within 24 hours, compared with 58% before.

The changes have also improved the quality and safety of care, and the patient experience:

  • Quicker diagnosis
  • Reduced waiting times
  • Scans are performed in a more professional environment
  • Scan quality has improved, reducing the risk of mis-diagnosis.

The team have been very positive about the change process and the results they have achieved together: “Scanning in the right environment with the right equipment has increased staff morale”. In addition, since staff are now less mobile, they can work together to support each other with more difficult scans, improving team working and reducing the risk of back injury.


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