What is bed management?

The performance of many hospital departments is dependent on the way beds are being managed. Bed management systems involve the constant monitoring of hospital admissions, discharges and patient flow within a hospital so that accurate data is gathered to identify the availability of beds across wards. This enables bed managers to move and place patients to wards that best suit their needs.

Why is hospital bed management important?

Smooth bed management in hospitals creates a better and safer environment for patients and a more efficient working environment for staff.

Effective Bed management is critical to enabling the successful flow of patients through a healthcare facility. It involves the medical care, physical resources, and internal systems needed to get patients from the point of admission to the point of discharge while maintaining quality and patient and provider satisfaction.

According to the Quality Care Commission, poor hospital bed management systems are making patients feel that their care is unsafe, of poor quality and is uncoordinated in acute inpatient settings, and there is no reason to suppose that it is any better in other health settings.  

The patient’s experience of well managed bed flow is that it feels safe, of high quality and is well coordinated.

The burden of information management on top of clinical work applies to all hospital staff. Failures of information management lead to delays and errors in the care of patients. The impact of aggregated delays and errors on operational performance is inevitable, compounding the risks and costs of poor information management.

In some cases, vital information about the patient’s care is often recorded on paper and other media that are isolated, out-of-date, and liable to loss and to misinterpretation. Whilst conventional IT systems do manage the high level processes like referrals, appointments, waiting lists and ADT, they do not record and share the day to day processes and exchange of information that is critical to the safety, quality and efficiency of the patient journey and organisation as a whole

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A digital patient flow journey

“According to bed availability figures from the NHS, on average 89 per cent of all available overnight beds were occupied in the first quarter of 2017. This accounts for approximately 116,643 beds across the UK and is above the 85 per cent considered to be the maximum occupancy rate.” The Journal of Health 

Optimisation of bed management enhances;

For the patient

  • Patient experience
  • Patient safety
  • Outcomes of care
  • Quality of care
  • Coordination of care

For the user

  • User experience
  • User effectiveness
  • Job satisfaction

For Bed Managers

  • Operational efficiency
  • Productivity gains
  • Cost reduction
  • Achievement of operational targets


The Carter Review in 2016 states:

‘The best performing hospital systems around the world have real-time monitoring and reporting at their fingertips, enabling them to make decisions on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to improve quality and efficiency performance.’ 

Whilst this is true, we know that in acute care, decisions need to be made on a second by second basis.

Patient flow in a pandemic: as the NHS widens its doors how can safety be ensured?

Sir Jonathan Michael, Independent Healthcare Consultant to Servelec, discusses the need for a new approach to elective care patient flow using digital tools.

> Read the article

How can digital software solutions improve bed management?

The Ward Whiteboard

The Ward Whiteboard gives an at-a-glance operational summary including capacity, occupancy, expected discharges, closed beds, planned admissions and actual TCIs. Patient cards display current clinical status, EDD, discharge planning, problems and interventions. Absent patients and off-ward locations are instantly visible. New patients are automatically flagged for admission assessment and NEWS and other data from external systems is imported and displayed.

Bed Managers Screen

Incoming Bed Requests from all sources provides the Bed Manager with information to plan and assign patients to inpatient beds using the real time bed state on the digital screen.

Patient Lists to track patients

Intelligent listing filters in our bed management software solution enable pre-configured and user-contextualised lists to be instantly available. Personal list criteria may be created, saved and shared with colleagues. Multiple filters are available including all of the whiteboard indicators and other data items. Access to the patient profile allows remote updates to the Ward Whiteboard indicators and to create digital notes and tasks for colleagues to access anywhere. Specialised list functions include Infection Control, Handover and Hospital at Night with contextualised summary data within the list.

Hospital at a glance

This powerful feature is configured locally to present the management information needed for real-time operational management at organisation, department and ward level. Bed demand, occupancy, and capacity are confirmed, as are potential discharges and current performance indicators.


Flow is designed to be viewed and used on mobile devices, meaning clinicians aren’t constrained by their desk. They can access patient profiles on their mobile device, update the Digital Whiteboard and create notes and tasks for colleagues remotely with management information dashboards are updated in real-time.

We are already helping Trusts like yours improve bed management with simple digital solutions that deliver better care. We share your belief in simple technology solutions that change lives. We call it Digital Care and we’re by your side.

Nurse using tablet at end of bed