A father inspired by time spent in hospital with his terminally ill daughter has invented a computer system to help hospital staff cut down on paperwork.

The trial of the computerised Smart Ward patient system has yielded impressive results at two hospitals in Melbourne.

The system, which uses touch screens and smartchips in lanyards and wristbands to update patient information, was developed by Canberra tech guru Matt Darling.

He developed the system after observing hospital staff over a number of months while caring for his daughter, Jem, five years ago.

As he spent extended periods in the wards, Mr Darling saw how much time nurses spent filling out paperwork.

“What I came to realise was that nurses were spending a lot of their time on admin, and they were being, if you like, distracted by patient care,” he told the ABC at Melbourne’s Epworth Hospital.

“I guess the first stage of trying to come up with a solution is trying to understand why that is.”

Jem

Mr Darling’s time in hospital wards led him to map out the workday of nurses and create a time in motion study of their movement around their workplace.

He says there were a number of times when his daughter needed acute care and he believed he could pinpoint where the existing system was failing staff.

“She had a couple of really terrible events clinically that were ultimately very preventable and I guess my first reaction to that was to feel annoyed at the system [and] upset about what had happened to her,” he said.

“But I guess it sort of gave me a sharp focus on what was actually happening. I really came to have an empathy and a respect for the people who were working there and a great deal of sympathy for how difficult the working conditions were. I really wanted to do something that was going to benefit them and through benefitting them, benefit patients as well.”

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