University of Manchester student nurses are the first to be introduced to digital health technology from the beginning of their training.
Student nurses in Manchester have become the first to be trained in vital signs observations technology called Patientrack, before they set foot onto the ward.
The University of Manchester said this move signals the start of a changing educational focus to equip the UK’s first generation of ‘paperless’ nurses with real skills needed to help save more lives on the modern wards of NHS hospitals, from the earliest stages of their training.
Manchester’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, has now become the first school to teach student nurses how to capture patient vital signs through Patientrack, during the initial weeks of their classroom teaching.
Patientrack said that its system is making a big difference to patient safety by ensuring patients at risk of deterioration are identified early and that warning alerts are automatically sent to doctors to ensure prompt interventions.
Nurses will still be taught how to record bedside observations on traditional paper charts. But 400 students this year have already been taught how to capture patients’ vital signs digitally through Patientrack, on their iPads, from the very beginning of their training.
Carol Wilde, a former A&E matron, now clinical skills tutor at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, said: “Learning how to carry out patient observations and recording accurate vital signs is the bread and butter of nursing practice. As the NHS becomes paperless we need to give students a real feel for the systems they will use.
“Introducing Patientrack into the classroom was the only way to do this, something no other nursing school has done.
“Allowing first year students to learn how to carry out patient observations digitally, through classroom simulation, is an important step in updating nursing teaching in the university environment, so that it reflects the realities of 21st Century NHS nursing.”
Patientrack allows nurses to capture vital signs digitally at the bedside. The software then calculates a patient’s early warning score and automatically calls doctors to intervene when signs of deterioration are present. The system continues to escalate calls until patients receive an appropriate response.
In the classroom, a student training version of Patientrack has been created to help students understand how to record patients’ observations on iPads and other tablet devices.
Students will also use the technology to help them manage a simulated deteriorating patient for a full day, where they will record observations and experience hospital escalation scenarios in action, according to Patientrack.
Emily Heggie, one of the first students to use the technology before her initial hospital placement, said: “The early introduction to Patientrack was something I hugely valued once out on placement. I was able to recognise the software and easily find my way to input details when asked.”
Steven Pryjmachuk, director of NHS education contracts and external liaison at the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, said: “Our NHS trust partners use Patientrack and now our students are able to test out the technology in a safe, simulated clinical setting, in preparation for use in real clinical environments.”