Patients at two A&Es to be triaged by tablet from Monday

The tablet will see you now… patients arriving at A&E units at an NHS trust will soon be checked in and assessed digitally.

From Monday arrivals at two hospitals in West Sussex will be triaged by tablet in a move doctors say will slash waiting times.

The system will be available at Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester – the first A&E units in the country to get hold of the new eTriage technology.

The NHS trust’s top doctor said eTriage helps flag life-threatening conditions quicker while keeping patient dignity and privacy at the heart of care.

While current triage times can vary widely from 15 minutes to over an hour, the new automated process takes approximately four minutes.

The new technology was piloted and developed in Bexley but this is the first time it will be rolled out in an A&E unit.

Chief medical officer at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Dr George Findlay, said: “eTriage provides multiple benefits for our patients by reducing waiting times, flagging life-threatening conditions more quickly and taking history on arrival to ensure the right care is given to those who need it first.

“Patient dignity and privacy is also a key consideration as the new tablets avoid people from having to divulge their condition or concern in front of others at reception.”

A&E digital check in
A&E staff with a digital tablet at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester (Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust/PA)

eTriage was developed by NHS emergency doctors and nurses for eConsult and works by asking patients questions about their symptoms, the same questions that a clinician would ask when seeing the patient face-to-face.

eConsult’s chief executive, Dr Murray Ellender, commented on the eTriage roll-out in West Sussex: “We are very excited for eTriage to go live in Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital, and for its subsequent roll-out in other hospitals later this year.

“Digital triage allows doctors and nurses to focus on the face-to-face interactions with their patients and prioritises those who are most in need.

While NHS resources are stretched thin, and emergency doctors and nurses are under increasing pressure to see countless patients over a short period of time, eTriage can provide some much-needed relief on the current healthcare system.”

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