An early warning technology used in dozens of NHS hospitals will now help nurses to carry out crucial assessments designed to help identify potential cases of Covid-19.

Patientrack, which is used by hospitals to detect deadly conditions like sepsis and acute kidney injury, will now be used by nurses to record key information for all respiratory patients, which will then immediately inform professionals if the patient needs to be tested for coronavirus.   

The digital assessment tool has been designed by Alcidion, the company which provides the Patientrack system, to make it easy for nurses to assess every patient presenting to hospital with a respiratory illness.

Staff on the ward will follow a series of questions covering symptoms, the patient’s circumstances, and their physiological measurements, and will enter information directly into Patientrack, the system used to track observations, via a computer or mobile device.

Specific questions will be tailored to the hospital’s own Covid-19 assessment criteria and can be configured by the hospital to keep up with the evolving situation. Depending on the hospital’s requirements, the system can then place a flag on the patient’s record or automatically alert appropriate professionals like respiratory doctors and infection control teams, if answers indicate signs of Covid-19.  

It will also remove the need to record this information on paper, and will make it easier for hospitals to provide more complete information to NHS England on the number of people screened, the number who test positive, and the number of people who have died.

Clinical leads will also be able to use the information internally to see at a glance affected patients and their status across the hospital.

The Covid-19 assessment tool is already live and in use in the NHS and is available to all hospitals using the Patientrack system.

David Proctor, the implementation consultant at Alcidion who built the initial coronavirus assessment tool, said: “This is very much about supporting early intervention and early treatment. Nurses have always used Patientrack to help identify deterioration, and to allow a swift clinical response.This new development is designed to help them detect coronavirus early, so that hospitals can deliver treatment sooner, move patients to intensive care faster, and get them the care they need more quickly.”

Patientrack is traditionally used by staff to capture vital signs and early warning scores and to record digitally bedside observations and patient risk assessments. The system alerts staff to intervene when patients show signs of risk or deterioration.

Across the NHS many hospitals have recorded significant gains in patient safety by using the system, which has given staff visibility of their sickest patients. Measured impact has included significant reductions in cardiac arrests, mortality, lengths of stay, and admissions to intensive care.

Lynette Ousby, general manager at Alcidion, said: “We are committed to helping our NHS partners tackle coronavirus in any way we can. We are working with hospitals that use Patientrack to test and implement the coronavirus assessment tool quickly, which we will be providing free of charge for as long as they need it. Discussions are ongoing as to how we can also adapt our wider range of technologies to respond quickly to the needs of front line staff at this difficult time.”