Pulvertaft Hand Centre

"The FileMaker solution developed for the Pulvertaft Hand Centre is improving multiple areas of patient care within the Royal Derby Hospital. Disabled patients can now complete surgery questionnaires themselves, which in turn frees healthcare staff to focus on patient care. The Centre is now meeting NHS requirements on surgery data, all through an entirely digital solution." - Jonathan Fairhead, Operations Director, igeek

Pulvertaft Hand Centre improves patient care with FileMaker

Specialist hand surgery centre within the Royal Derby Hospital collects vital patient data through a custom FileMaker solution


  • Pulvertaft Hand Centre staff previously used thousands of pieces of paper that were manually processed, leading to inaccurate data transfer due to human error. This was taking up valuable time that could otherwise be spent on patient care within the Centre.


  • Health


  • A custom FileMaker solution was implemented that allows patients to fill out questionnaires on an iPad. Externally working staff access data securely with the FileMaker WebDirect tool.


  • Healthcare staff no longer need to fill out questionnaires for patients and manually process paper forms. Data transfer is now paperless and autosyncing, allowing consultants a wider overview and visual reports.

The Pulvertaft Hand Centre is a specialist hand surgery centre within the Royal Derby Hospital. The Centre is a well-established organisation named after Guy Pulvertaft, the first president of the British Society for Surgery of the Hand. Pulvertaft provided healthcare services to dock workers injured during World War Two, and was awarded a CBE for services to hand surgery.

Now, the Centre consists of 12 consultants, six doctors as well as physiotherapy and nursing staff. It sees 15,000 to 20,000 patients and undertakes up to 7,000 surgeries a year, with a large number of follow-up appointments also taking place. As part of the Royal Derby Hospital, the Centre operates within the NHS, offering a full range of treatments for patients with hand and wrist problems.

The FileMaker solution is releasing our staff from paperwork requirements whilst meeting NHS guidelines on surgery data. Patients are now able to complete forms themselves and we're building data that is reliable and accessible. We're now looking at how we can further expand the FileMaker solution into other areas of the hospital so that any department can digitally complete its paperwork.

— Chris Bainbridge, consultant at the Pulvertaft Hand Centre
Pulvertaft Hand Centre 1
Over 14,000 NHS questionnaires per year are completed by disabled patients themselves, via iPad


The NHS requires patients undergoing surgery at the Centre to complete a ‘Disability of the Arms, Shoulder and Hand’ (DASH) questionnaire. The DASH questionnaire must be completed by patients both before and after surgery, in order to check for post-treatment improvements. However, this paper form was to be filled out by patients who had hand and wrist problems, making the act of completing the questionnaire with pen and paper a difficult undertaking. As a result, healthcare staff needed to be with patients completing the DASH questionnaire, to provide assistance, or to do it on their behalf. Staff at the Centre were spending valuable time filling these forms out for patients; time that could be better spent on patient care. 

The sheer number of forms being completed and surgeries being undertaken also made the process a huge administrative task. Centre staff had thousands of pieces of paper that needed to be processed; inputting this data manually to Microsoft Excel spreadsheets from the original paper forms. This led to inaccurate data transfer due to human error, and took up valuable time that could otherwise be spent on patient care within the Centre. The reliance on paper was holding back staff and a digital solution was needed.


Developer firm, igeek, built a custom FileMaker solution that allowed patients to fill out the DASH questionnaires on iPad. This meant the questionnaire could be given to patients with as little involvement from medical staff as possible, all the while removing the previous manual data input from paper to Excel.

The solution uses a questionnaire template that is stored on a centrally hosted FileMaker server. The template is wirelessly transferred for patients to complete securely on iPad via FileMaker Go. Staff at the Centre can create or select a particular template, which is then filled out offline by patients and synced to the server when the iPad is connected to a secure Wi-Fi network. This means the host FileMaker database acts as a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, preserving the details of the patient, consultant and any additional pertinent information. 

A number of consultants at the Centre also work remotely, so igeek utilised FileMaker WebDirect in development of its custom solution. With WebDirect, staff working externally from the Centre are able to access and view patient data securely. Security is of paramount importance, so FileMaker's built-in SSL (AES 256 bit) security is utilised, with additional protection provided by the Derbyshire NHS Trust's own Virtual Private Network.


As the Centre treats so many patients and manages thousands of follow-up appointments, having a centrally stored CRM database with patient details is an invaluable tool for administrative staff. Organising post-surgery appointments and completing DASH questionnaires in such numbers now operates as a streamlined and accurate digital service. Healthcare staff no longer need to fill out questionnaires for patients, freeing up valuable time that can be spent elsewhere on the provision of patient care.

The Centre no longer requires paper forms to be processed manually onto Microsoft Excel. The data transfer is seamless from the patient filling out the iPad questionnaire, to the auto-syncing onto the centralised FileMaker server, removing inaccurate data input. Not only is the DASH questionnaire process now paperless, but consultants can view patient data in more ways than before. The FileMaker solutions allows visual reports, such as pie charts and graphs, to be run. This allows consultants to gain a wider overview of surgeries within the Centre in more ways than before. 

The custom solution developed by igeek not only takes advantage of the tactile, user-friendly nature of iPad, making it easier for them to fill out questionnaires; but patients also have other accessibility options at their fingertips, including zoom and colour-changing functionality should the patient suffer from colour-vision / sight issues. With every eventuality catered for, healthcare staff can focus on making people better - rather than needing to get involved with excessive amounts of administration.


Pulvertaft Hand Centre