Digital technology enhances nursing

Spire Healthcare – hospital group winners in the LaingBuisson annual awards – also won the Nursing Practice Award. Leslie Berry reports.

Spire’s two awards in the prestigious medical ‘Oscars’ in London were in recognition of: 

 Hospital Group – a clear commitment to its people and wider stakeholders, which is evidenced by the culture of inclusion and developing staff;

 Nursing Practice – exhibiting excellent work in employing digital technology to improve patient communication and drive efficiency.

The company’s nursing ‘gong’ was specifically for the delivery of its electronic pre-operative assessment (ePOA) process across its hospitals. 

Spire Healthcare picked up the Nursing Team trophy at the LaingBuission Awards

The pandemic provided the impetus to accelerate the shift to a greater delivery of digital services, such as ePOA. 

Developed in-house, ePOA covers the entire pre-operative assessment process by helping nurses manage their patient’s pre-assessment process from the point of booking and assignment of a patient questionnaire, right through to their specific procedure. 

Generates alerts

The ePOA system generates red flags, alerts and prompts to support Spire nurses with clinical triage and the pre-operative assessment. 

Spire says ePOA also helps patients to be better prepared for their medical procedure at any one of its hospitals and clinics across the UK, as well as improving clinical efficiency.

With development supported by nursing and medical experts, the process was piloted at three Spire sites in 2020, rolled out companywide in 2021 and fully completed in January 2022.


A spokesperson told Independent Practitioner Today: ‘Pre-operative assessments used to include a paper questionnaire completed by patients prior to surgery.

‘ePOA reduces the use of paper, while providing a better patient experience and shorter processing time. This frees up nurses’ time so they can focus on the most at risk patients, and hospital consulting rooms for other use. 

‘Access to, and integration with, the NHS Summary Care Record helps Spire nurses get a holistic view of patients’ medical history.’

Online portal

Spire was pleased to have worked with patient groups in the roll-out; testing the process with patients to ensure it was easy to use, the language was right and that it met all patients’ needs.

Patients were able to access their pre-operative questionnaires via a secure online portal, meaning they no longer needed to visit hospital for their pre-op assessments. 

A total of 75,000 ePOA questionnaires were sent to patients in 2021 and reported patient feedback was that ePOA is quick and simple to complete. 

All of Spire’s nurses are trained on ePOA, with patient groups helping to gauge and act on colleagues’ views. 

The group is delighted with the results. It says feedback has been positive in that ePOA provides more information about patients and makes it easier for nurses to triage them. The overwhelming majority say that it is easy to use.

Consultants have also reported satisfaction with the process.  ePOA has boosted efficiency, as clinical teams now have visibility of patient flow through the pre-op process across all Spire hospitals. 

Spire Healthcare chief executive Justin Ash said: ‘We are all very proud to have received two LaingBuisson awards for best Hospital Group and Nursing Practice. 

‘I congratulate my clinical and management colleagues who continue to focus their efforts to make a positive difference to people’s lives through outstanding personalised care. 

‘This is our purpose at Spire, and these two awards demonstrate the amazing results of our teams who continue to work together to deliver our patients the high-quality care they have come to expect when at Spire hospitals.’