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Mobile technology to save community healthcare

Mick Wayman, head of public sector, Vodafone UK | Aug. 31, 2015
The NHS and social care sector are yet to make best use of mobile technology to save money and improve care.

The perceived benefits of adopting new technology would deliver against community health leaders' top three priority aims: improving the quality of frontline services, making it easier to access information on the frontline, helping ensure compliance with legislation. However the full potential is still not being realised as adoption is slow.

Where healthcare organisations have rolled out mobile technology to frontline workers (such as Health Visitors, Community and District Nurses), efficiency and patient experience has improved, and there is demonstrable return on investment.

For example, NHS Blackpool, which has mobilised all of the 700 - 800 staff members in its domiciliary teams, is using tablets to provide carers with secure access to patient records whenever and wherever. This not only enables them to save time going back to the office so they can spend more time with patients, but more importantly helps them provide more informed and greater quality care.

NHS Blackpool initially anticipated that domiciliary nurses would save an hour a day in travel and administration time - a time saving that is re-invested in extra patient visits. In reality, each of NHS Blackpool's domiciliary team is able to see 1-2 more patients each day.

Travel costs have also reduced with one team saving £4,000 per month. Even in teams where travel costs have remained flat (such as Health Visitors), productivity has increased by 54 per cent. The teams are also seeing more patients and time spent on paperwork has vastly reduced.

NHS Blackpool is expecting to see a continued reduction in hospital admissions as the same number of workers are able to visit a greater number of patients at home, crucially without putting patients at risk.

The technology has also had a positive impact on the way patient feedback is gathered. Insights can now be collected on a tablet app at the point of care, then aggregated and interrogated in real time. This replaces a slow and time intensive paper-based process where surveys had to be manually entered into the database once they had been completed and returned by patients. As a result, NHS Blackpool now has the ability to pick up on any areas of concern very quickly though real-time dashboards.

Technological transformation

Like NHS Blackpool, other hospitals and community-based care organisations are set to benefit from implementing mobile technology. Not only do mobile devices allow for community nurses to work on the go, they also improve efficiency, productivity and ultimately allow more quality time with a greater number of patients. Not only does adopting mobile technology improve patient care, it comes with the added benefit of improving employee morale across healthcare organisations.

 

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