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Hospitals improve patient care with herd of COWs

Dr Sanjeev Patel (left) with Sarah Newell, assistant house officer
Dr Sanjeev Patel (left) with Sarah Newell, assistant house officer

18 May 2009

Patients who come into hospital may find they have a new bedside friend - a COW! Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust has recently purchased a Computer On Wheels (COW) for every ward.

The COW means that doctors can wheel the computer round to the patient's bedside and use it whilst examining them, instead of having to write down information and transfer it to computer later on.

Each COW is connected to the Trust's secure wireless network, which means doctors can order medicines, diagnostic tests, such as x-rays and scans, and check electronic patient notes as they walk around the ward.

Malcolm Flier is head of information support services and is responsible for the project. He said: "The COWs are changing the way doctors work and, by saving them from having to transfer information from paper to computer later, it means they have more time to spend with their patients.

"It is also makes the Trust more efficient, helping us to save money that can be reinvested into further improving the care we provide to our patients".

Dr Sanjeev Patel is a consultant physician in the Trust. He and his team have been using the COWs for the last few weeks. Dr Patel said: "The COWs are fantastic. On our ward rounds, we can access all the test results for the patients by their bedside. This saves a lot of time compared to having to find a free machine in the office.

"Some patients also like to see the results of their tests including X-rays and we can easily do this. Medical students and junior doctors also benefit as they can be taught more easily during the ward rounds".

Each COW cost £2,100 and contains a standard PC, a wireless modem, its own power supply (once charged they can be used completely wirelessly for 10-15 hours) and a lockable medicine drawer.
The Trust's Information Services department employs 18 staff who work to keep the Trust's 3,000 computers working around the clock. The Trust has bought 47 COWs, spending £98,700 in total.

For more information, please contact:

Communications team

Tel: 020 8296 4996

Out of hours media enquiries
Please call 07975 232 380

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