First-in-Canada digital system will improve care for critically ill children

By Julie Dowdie

It’s something no parent even wants to imagine, let alone have happen – their child is in hospital and begins to get worse.

Unfortunately, it’s a situation that does routinely occur in hospitals. And in many cases, the nurse or another member of the care team contacts the doctor and they hurriedly return to the bedside. However, a new digital system introduced at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH) will help to prevent these types of critical situations.

Known as the Bedside Paediatric Early Warning System, or BedsidePEWS, the technology “helps healthcare professionals identify children whose illness may become more serious in a short period of time and react in a faster and more coordinated way,” says Elena Pacheco, Vice President, Support Services and Transformation at MSH.

BedsidePEWS is currently a paper-based tool. MSH is the first hospital in Canada to implement an electronic version to further enhance the care and outcomes of young patients.

“With electronic BedsidePEWS, physicians, nurses and other members of a patient’s care team can remotely monitor their status and access their electronic medical record anywhere in the hospital,” says Dr. Deepa Grewal, Chief of Paediatrics at MSH.

“For instance, a physician may be caring for a patient in another area of the hospital, such as in the Emergency Department or an outpatient clinic, but they can still track other patients’ vital sign trends in real time and work with the team to make any necessary changes to their care plan.”

Developed by the Toronto-based start-up Bedside Clinical Systems in partnership with SickKids, BedsidePEWS is one of 11 projects that have received funding from the second round of Ontario’s Health Technologies Fund. The fund is being administered by the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

The electronic BedsidePEWS system was launched on MSH’s paediatric inpatient unit this past July and there are plans to expand the system within the hospital.

“We’ve recently introduced the paper-based BedsidePEWS in our Emergency Department and are examining its effectiveness in improving the care experience for our paediatric patients there,” Pacheco notes.

“BedsidePEWS truly combines the art of caring with the science of best practice to improve health outcomes and patient experience for all our children and their families.”

Julie Dowdie is a Senior Communications Specialist at Markham Stouffville Hospital.