Working towards a paperless NHS

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Mobile Performance Management and Healthcare Transformation

The stated goal of NHS Digital is to make the NHS totally paperless by 2020. Bringing mobile technologies to the point of care is central to the effort. As the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) noted in its report, Investing in Mobile Technology Solutions: By releasing time to care, mobile working practices and technologies are recognised as a key enabler to improving quality of care, patient experience and working lives of staff. 

Mobile technology is an enabler to deliver transformation at the point of care. HSCIC goes on to say: The [National Information Board] aims to support innovation and growth to help providers in delivering integrated care in the community and achieve paper-free services by 2020. To achieve this, healthcare professionals require access to patient records – at the point of care. The use of mobile technology can empower staff whilst stimulating further innovation to streamline services. The incentives are economic as well as aimed at improving quality of care - the 2013 Mobile Worker Health Worker Project identified savings of up to £19,000 per clinician per year in the community setting, while HSCIC found potential savings of £0.3bn across all trusts based on a reduction in face-to-face contacts. 

The Role of Mobile Performance Management (MPM)

One element that hasn’t been well-addressed in this vision is the importance of administering and managing reliable mobile connectivity. Building out coverage in many areas of the UK, particularly in rural areas, is an ongoing effort. Even facility-based Wi-Fi can have its problems in terms of consistent coverage. Mobile Performance Management software is widely used by mobile workers in many industries, including healthcare. Through a mix of technologies that make wireless connections more reliable and resilient, it handles the complexities of dealing with multiple connections and variable coverage conditions so that clinicians can focus on their jobs. Let us look at some of the areas where this is an enabling and fundamental technology to achieving digital transformation. 

Applications in Healthcare   

In its Digital Technology Essentials Guide, HSCIC identifies a number of recommended technologies. As the publication states, “All NHS organisations should have a clear understanding of why they are not already exploiting these enablers and, if not, look at their plans for adoption.” In the following areas, Mobile Performance Management plays a key role. 

Mobile working

HSCIC uses this term to generally describe use of mobile devices to access and update information from anywhere, including the point of care. They cite the results achieved by NHS Calderdale through mobile working practices, including a 17% increase in patient visits per day, 14.5% more time spent speaking with patients and 21% reduction in non-elective admissions. Mobile Performance Management allows any application that runs over a wired network to be used in a mobile environment without modification. It also makes the mobile experience transparent to the end-user and handles the complexities of maintaining and switching between mobile connections automatically, without clinician intervention. 

Telemedicine 

Telemedicine allows patients or clinicians to consult with physicians using interactive technologies such as live video as well as share still images and patient data. Telemedicine currently provides out-of-hours stroke care across many regions. For example six acute trusts and seven PCTs across Lancashire and Cumbria have projected savings of £1.8 million annually using telemedicine. Mobile Performance Management delivers consistent and reliable connections, even in areas where wireless signals are weak. Since telemedicine is often used to more-affordably deliver medical services in rural settings, Mobile Performance Management can be the fundamental enabling technology for serving those areas. 

Digital clinical correspondence 

Digital transfer of clinical correspondence among primary, acute, community and social care settings eliminates paper and handling costs, saves time, reduces errors and automates workflows. By electronically exchanging information with general practitioners, Stockport NHS Foundation is seeing savings of over £100,000 per year in reduced consumables alone. Mobile Performance Management allows digital correspondence to be transmitted reliably with a seamless user experience, even through areas that have weak or intermittent wireless coverage. In areas with no signal at all, the MPM software holds the pending data and sends it when the signal becomes available again. 

Voice over IP and online meeting services 

These technologies use the Internet to send streams of voice conversations, video feeds, web screen-sharing, or all three. For a medium-sized trust, for example, West Midlands estimated savings for Voice over IP of £100k annually. By switching just one regular face-to-face meeting to a web-based online meeting, the former North East SHA reported annual savings of over £21,000. NHS Derbyshire primary care trust found annualised saving of £115,000 through audio conferencing. Mobile Operations Management prioritises delivery of these time-sensitive communications alongside normal data traffic, and applies a set of technologies that correct for the data-packet loss that otherwise results in lost snippets of conversation or breaks in the video delivery over wireless networks. This makes these technologies useful and of acceptable quality over less-than-optimal connections. 

Operational Intelligence for Enterprise Mobility

A companion technology to Mobile Performance Management, Operational Intelligence gives organisations unprecedented visibility and control of their mobile operations. Harnessing the ability of mobile devices to gather data about the devices themselves as well as networks, locations, data usage across various networks, and application data flows, it allows real-time monitoring of the entire mobile environment, inside or outside the firewall. This real-time intelligence allows the organisation to understand and remediate problems quickly, and keep mobile clinicians focused on the job of serving patients and delivering optimal outcomes.

Lee Johnson, Director of Global Marketing at NetMotion Software

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