Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust saves £1.2m with digital pens

By Sooraj Shah
17 Oct 2011 View Comments
NHS employee using a digital pen

Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust has signed a four-year contract with Destiny Wireless to use digital pens that the trust believes will save it £1.2m as a result of requiring fewer administrative staff.

The pens also improve the quality of patient data recorded according to the trust.

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The trust could save up to £1.2m over the four years from an accumulation of costs such as a lower requirement of administrative staff.

"Less staff are required as the digital pens have reduced some services from what was up to a three-month backlog to just five days," Kam Rai, the Trust's clinical programme manager told Computing.

The pens are based on Anoto technology, which requires clinicians to undergo a half-hour training session.

The pens are used by more than 600 clinicians at the trust and record 45,000 updates to patient activity records a month. The pen records data onto digital paper.

Clinicians are then able to review data before it is uploaded to the system via a USB connection and a PC router.

The handwriting is converted into text using visionobjects handwriting recognition software. The text is then sent back to the Trust's iPM patient record system as a PDF and xml data file. Administrators can edit forms if necessary on Destiny's online system.

"The choice of digital pen followed a year-long review. Destiny Wireless was chosen as it already had a relationship with CSC Alliance, the IT services provider for the NHS, therefore making it easier to deploy the technology.

"Destiny Wireless has experience with the CSC Alliance system – it was also the most cost-effective option," said Rai.

Rai admits there are ongoing costs for the project but that overall it will provide savings for the NHS.

She also makes it clear that the pen does not create additional security concerns.

"The pen doesn't store data – it just transmits it. There have been numerous security checks and even if a pen was lost it would be impossible for anyone to use the pen themselves as it can be deactivated from the system. Each pen is recognised by the system as belonging to a certain clinician," said Rai.

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