Patient Flow supports oxygen management

Article first published on Cambio’s LinkedIn site on 4h February 2021

It is certainly no secret that medical oxygen supplies are now at critical levels in the UK.

Although we may be past the peak of the second COVID-19 wave, infection rates across all UK territories are alarmingly high. It is true that the number of hospital admissions has seen a slight decrease, but the long-term repercussions on resource supplies will last well into our recovery period. This is particularly true of our current oxygen shortage.

The Current State of Affairs

Over the course of the pandemic, we have witnessed hospitals buckling under the pressure to treat COVID-19 patients. Most notably, they have been confronted with the need to over-extend their existing oxygen supplies for COVID-19 patients. The large number of patients requiring ICU beds and oxygen therapy has increased, as has the need to step up ventilator and high flow oxygen provision. More so, we are seeing a devastating increase in younger patients requiring oxygen support, particularly in some regions across Northern Ireland.

Under normal circumstances, patients who required respiratory interventions would be treated in a specialised, high dependency unit. Due to the rising number of COVID-19 patients, most respiratory wards are being adapted to mirror high dependency units. As a result, hospitals that previously had limited infrastructure to support high dependency units are now struggling. These shortages not only affect internal hospitals and healthcare facilities, but also emergency transportation practices and critical surgeries.

Across all healthcare services, the pandemic has generated an enormous demand shock for critical materials and resources. Consequently, hospitals have had to divert patients to other healthcare Trusts, or pool resources across organisations to support COVID-19 admissions.

In spite of the government reassuring us that there is no national oxygen shortage, our interactions with healthcare peers might indicate otherwise. Many of our frontline staff across the UK have expressed fears about having to cope with an unprecedented number of patients requiring respiratory support.

As such, the prospect of a further surge in COVID-19 cases weighs heavy on their minds; as well as on ours.

The Solution

As hospitals are primed to surpass capacity due to increasing COVID-19 cases, it is likely that a national oxygen crisis could ensue. More than ever, it is now necessary for clinicians and health organisations to manage the way patients enter and proceed through the health system. To help alleviate system congestion – and to keep COVID-19 breathing – hospitals need to streamline how they manage and anticipate supply bottlenecks. Specifically, it is critical that they optimise the way they manage patient flow, in order to grapple with the current oxygen shortage.

Firstly, clinicians and hospital staff need higher real-time visibility over oxygen supplies within their organisation. In dealing with acute shortages, health organisations would benefit greatly by addressing forecasted bottlenecks in a systematic and proactive manner. This means not just focusing on immediate blockers, but also identifying and addressing them before they can even occur. 

To remediate the oxygen shortage, we need to focus our efforts on empowering healthcare staff with efficient patient data provision. They need excellent access to information regarding patient needs and available inventory throughout the hospital supply chain. In particular, health teams should be able to account for oxygen-related equipment, including tanks, regulators and other delivery systems throughout the entire patient stay. Using digitised patient flow tools, hospitals should provide frequent updates to their staff on the status of oxygen systems and availability.

How Cambio can Help You

We need to act now to ensure that hospitals can address current and future oxygen supply shortages.

As one of the leading providers of patient flow solutions, Cambio Healthcare Systems UK is working hard to support hospitals, as we all tackle the current oxygen supply deficit in the UK.

In recognition of what can be only described as a crisis situation, we’ve partnered with health organisations across the UK in their endeavour to keep COVID-19 patients breathing. We’re doing this through our Cambio Patient Flow Manager (PFM) solution, which allows our health partners to have a birds-eye view of critical resources in real time.

Our PFM can be configured easily to capture the most granular data regarding the patient journey. This, of course, includes data relevant to the type of oxygen treatment given to patients. The data is then aggregated by the PFM, and made accessible through our Dashboards and Management Information (MI) database.

This database can be easily embedded into any healthcare organisation, and work alongside its existing infrastructure. The synchronous use of the Cambio MI and your extant data warehousing strategy will allow your staff to access concurrent patient information and their resource needs. Additionally, information extracts can be produced from PFM weekly, daily, even near real-time. All of this data can be fed into Business Intelligence tools to provide operational dashboards around necessary care activities.

As a result of this heightened visibility, healthcare staff can view records of COVID-19 patients and the modalities used to provide oxygen to them. Additionally, regular PFM extracts provide much needed updates and business intelligence to your organisation.

We truly believe that the Cambio PFM will alleviate pressure for many hospitals in their endeavour to efficiently supply oxygen to their patients. We encourage you to streamline how you manage patient flow and resource provision with our solution, in order to keep COVID-19 patients breathing.

Get in touch with the Cambio Healthcare Systems UK team today, to help your teams gain greater insights throughout the entire patient journey.