New app helping nurses detect acute kidney injury in ‘minutes’

The secure alerting tool, launched at the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust (RFL), has “made a huge difference” to nurses’ ability to respond rapidly to patients who are developing acute kidney injury.

“The mobile technology fits with the way healthcare is delivered today”

Mary Emerson

Evaluation of the app, called Streams, found clinicians were able to respond to urgent acute kidney injury cases in 14 minutes or less- a process which, using existing systems, might otherwise have taken many hours.

Developed by technology experts at DeepMind Health, the tool was also found to reduce the cost of care to the NHS, from £11,772 to £9,761 for hospital admission for a patient with the condition.

Clinicians at the trust worked closely with DeepMind Health to develop the app which, similar to a breaking news alerts on a mobile phone, notifies nurses and doctors immediately when test results show a patient is at risk of becoming seriously ill with acute kidney injury and provides information they need to take action.

According to the evaluation, the app has improved the experience of clinicians responsible for treating acute kidney injury by saving them time which would previously have been spent trawling through paper, pager alerts and multiple desktop systems.

Lead nurse specialist for the RFL patient at risk and resuscitation team, Mary Emerson, said the app had enabled herself and colleagues to deliver treatment more quickly and also identify deteriorating patients much earlier.

“The mobile technology is easy to use and fits with the way healthcare is delivered today,” she said.

“I’m excited about the possibilities this approach to alerting might have for other conditions and clinical teams,” she added.

The evaluation, which was led by University College London and published today in Nature Digital Medicine and the Journal of Medical Internet Research, also found the app had helped improve recognition of the condition in patients from 87.6% to 96.7 % for emergency cases.

“In the coming months, we will be introducing the app to clinicians at Barnet Hospital”

Chris Streather

Dr Chris Streather, RFL chief medical officer and deputy chief executive, said: “The findings of the Streams evaluation are incredibly encouraging and we are delighted that our partnership with DeepMind Health has improved the outcomes for patients.

“Digital technology is the way forward for the NHS,” he said. “In the same way as we can receive transport and weather alerts on our mobile devices, doctors and nurses should benefit from tools which put potentially life-saving information directly into their hands.”

“In the coming months, we will be introducing the app to clinicians at Barnet Hospital as well as exploring the potential to develop solutions for other life-threatening conditions like sepsis,” he added.

Dr Chris Laing, consultant nephrologist, who clinically led the implementation of the Streams project and co-led the evaluation, said: “Acute kidney injury is common, harmful, costly and may present across multiple clinical settings. It is often an early sign that a patient is becoming gravely Ill.

“Thanks to Streams we are able to monitor the kidney function of patients through real-time analysis of blood tests 24/7,” he said. “If a potential change in kidney function in a patient is detected, at any time or anywhere at the Royal Free Hospital, a specialist will be notified and the case will be reviewed, in-application, in a matter of minutes, with follow-up bedside assessment as required.”