Digital technology supporting faster discharge in the North East

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An NHS Trust in the North East, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, is using data to work with social care colleagues to help patients leave hospital faster.

Leaders at the Trust recognised that they had high numbers of patients in hospital for longer than necessary, so set about to re-design their processes and adopt a new digital tool to help transform hospital discharge.



The Trust reviewed work patterns on the wards to ensure the discharge conversation started much earlier in a person’s hospital stay and re-introduced the Transfer of Care Hub team, made up of Trust staff and adult social care staff, to acute hospital wards to support staff education and promote ‘home first’ thinking.

At the same time the Trust also introduced the OPTICA digital platform, which provides clear visibility of all tasks required within the discharge process. By connecting directly to patient information systems, it clearly maps patient journeys from being admitted to hospital to when they no longer need to be in hospital and can be discharged safely.

Medical staff with patient



Since South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust adopted OPTICA at both their hospitals last year, they have seen significant reductions in the number of long stay patients.

Between February 2023 and February 2024, there has been a 37% reduction in the average number of delay days per month since OPTICA adoption for long stay patients.

The Trust has also reduced the average number of additional days for long stay patients who are ready to go home by 47%, despite a 5% increase in admissions.

The platform enabled more junior members of the team to take increased ownership and responsibility, freeing senior nursing staff from computer-based tasks so they could instead oversee complex discharges.

Using the digital system is providing the trust with greater real-time oversight of areas of pressures across their hospitals to identify increased demand and enable capacity management. It has also highlighted the differing reasons for delays across wards and specialities, which enables targeted work with wards and staff.

OPTICA is currently used at 20 NHS Trusts and is one of the core products offered to NHS Trusts as part of the NHS Federated Data Platform currently being rolled out across England.

“OPTICA has taken pressure off the daily coordinator, as each nurse updates their own records – they don’t all queue up to hand over updates.”

Transfer of Care Nurse, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust


“It provides us with the opportunity to match staff availability to demand at the beginning of the shift and adjust throughout the day as demand changes.”

Transfer of Care Hub Matron, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust


“The Trust will soon be rolling out OPTICA to more hospital wards so they can use it at daily board rounds and to improve communication with the multi-disciplinary teams, as well as patients and carers around the status of discharge plans.”

Hospital Discharge System Coordinator, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust