Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Saturday, 7 March 2009

'Smartphones' cut patient waits

Person working on a laptop
Swifter access to patient records has proved effective in cutting waits

Medical staff in some rural areas of Wales are to be issued with technology to allow faster access to patient data in a bid to reduce waiting times.

An 821,000 assembly government grant will be spent in Powys after a scheme showed that "smartphones" given to district staff proved time effective.

In some cases, the time it took to immunise a child went down from 15 minutes to five minutes because of swifter access to data.

The cash will allow laptops for staff.

The aim of the scheme is to reduce the administrative burden on staff who will in turn be able to concentrate on patient care.

Powys Local Health Board manages three community healthcare teams in mid, north and south Powys as well as 15 district nurses and a specialist chronic disease nursing team based at various locations.

The rural nature of Powys poses challenges for health staff... it is essential that they are able to access patient information quickly and easily
Edwina Hart

Last year, a project began to roll out "smartphones" to all district nurses to enable to them to record, store and retrieve patient information.

In August 2008, this was expanded for staff administering childhood immunisations - reducing the time needed to immunise a child from 15 minutes to five minutes with swift access to data.

Health Minister Edwina Hart has approved the cash in order to provide technical support to community healthcare professionals.

It will allow information to be captured, stored and accessed by health visitors, district nurses, specialist nurses and midwives.

In addition, the funding will be used to buy laptops and electronic notebooks.

It is hoped this will reduce the amount of time staff spend on administrative tasks, and allow them to easily share clinical information between staff across a number of sites to support patient care.

Ms Hart said: "The rural nature of Powys poses challenges for health staff.

"That is why it is essential that they are able to access patient information quickly and easily.

"This new funding will free up more staff time to allow them to focus on patient care.

"Swift access to information through this new computer system will reduce duplication of effort, enable staff to update patient information quickly and consult with colleagues, where necessary."

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