Welch Allyn FlexiPort system reduces pressure at Derby trust

FlexiPort blood pressure monitoring solution deployed across Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Staff at Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, currently featuring in a new ITV hospital documentary, Superhospital have been demonstrating their star qualities to an audience of millions.

One of those qualities – a willingness to look at new ways of doing things - has been amply demonstrated in the trust’s recent decision to switch all 2,000 of its blood pressure monitoring devices over to Welch Allyn’s unique FlexiPort blood pressure cuff system.

The result has not only saved the trust money but, most importantly, it has released nursing time back to caring for patients.

Before the changeover, blood pressure monitoring had been taking far longer than it should. Over the years, the trust had built up a range of blood pressure machines, each requiring dedicated cuffs and connectors. As a result, nursing staff could lose precious minutes trying to find the right match. Some machines were under used as a result; some not at all; and boxes of spare cuffs, some incorrectly ordered, built up on the wards.

Stephanie McCarthy, clinical procurement nurse at the trust had already led efforts to successfully standardise other core products such as gloves. Blood pressure cuffs were an obvious candidate for a similar process – but only if worthwhile efficiencies, clinical benefits and cost savings could be achieved.

“We needed a generic system to fit every blood pressure machine, but it had to achieve savings of at least 7%,” she said.

Easy to fit, use and remove, FlexiPort cuffs have a one-handed snap-on, snap-off connection and can be attached to patients in seconds - quicker and simpler than any other system.

A simple conversion in minutes is all it takes for FlexiPort cuffs to work with any blood pressure device, regardless of make or model.

Patient comfort is significantly improved with the rotatable port, which stops tubing causing patient discomfort, and can be swiftly moved aside during surgery while the cuff remains in position, making access far easier for theatre staff.

With one of the widest range of sizes available on the market, including five for adults, the Welch Allyn cuffs prioritise accuracy. In addition to reusable cuffs, there are also disposable equivalents, and a single-patient use version, particularly suitable for barriered patients.

The decision to go with Welch Allyn was made at the end of 2014. Following a successful trial in the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU), one of the busiest wards in the hospital – the hospital-wide conversion was rolled out over an eight-week period in April and May this year, with more than 2,000 blood pressure devices across the hospital equipped with the FlexiPort fitting and Welch Allyn FlexiPort cuffs.

Conversion of the MAU’s 10 blood pressure devices averaged just a minute apiece – around 25% faster than anticipated and the process went so smoothly that staff were barely aware it had happened.

“I came to work one day and they were just in,” said MAU sister, Rebecca Pipes.

A month on, the changeover has been voted a complete success. Cuff and machine mismatches, stock shortages, and incorrect ordering have been reduced to virtually zero.

Spending on cuffs is anticipated to reduce by 75%, which equates to half a staff nurse’s salary every year, well ahead of the trust’s 7% target. Even better, 100% of staff surveyed agreed their working lives are now easier, enabling them to spend more time with their patients.

The long-term goal, said McCarthy, is greater use of single patient use cuffs.

Jan McMeekin, regional sales director at Welch Allyn, said: “Successful standardisation is about far more than just the product. It’s also about providing the 360-degree support that goes with it. Our work with Derby Teaching Hospitals shows just how effective this collaborative approach can be.”

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