As the government continues to reduce public spending, each department is undergoing internal reviews in order to determine where savings can be achieved. For the NHS, this will be particularly difficult with proposals put forward earlier this year by the UK government for a ‘seven-day NHS’.
Reducing spending whilst simultaneously increasing output has been a painful yet manageable government task for some time. But the latest initiative facing national healthcare, the ‘seven day NHS’, could well be a step too far without the intervention of wider, tech-based developments in working practices.
Monitor, the regulatory body for the NHS, said earlier this month that the public health sector is facing “an almost unprecedented financial challenge”, and gave orders for each organisation to review their current spending plans to look for further savings.
Ensuring high-quality care is received by patients around-the-clock, including fully operational weekends, certainly seems like an impossible task, but there is evidence it can be achieved.
A remedy by patients
Mobility across public services is not a new concept. In the last few years, there has been a growing understanding among consumers of how mobility is improving their lives on a daily basis. You can now report a lost passport, pay for a TV licence or even book GP appointments via a mobile web portal.
Alongside these obligatory interactions, the more health conscious are actively managing their fitness and wellbeing with mobile apps, connected devices and sensors that collect masses of valuable information.
Combined with the right analytics, healthcare providers stand to gain conclusive insights into the health of any such patient.
This will be a crucial step forward for patients who cannot or should not be travelling to the hospital and need healthcare workers to be able to work effectively while providing high level, remote care.
These duties must be in accordance with strict security and compliance requirements, seamlessly pairing data captured with existing medical records.
For some providers, this trend is already transforming post-operation patient care through remote monitoring, patient data capture, treatment plans and e-prescriptions. With the assistance of tablets, nurses can remotely access patient records and provide emergency diagnostic information.
To take a recent example of best practice, a nurse who spotted a new injury on a scheduled home visit was able to arrange a live, remote session with a hospital-based wound specialist.
Through the tablet, the specialist was able to direct the nurse and diagnose that the patient had developed a serious infection. This demonstrates how enterprise mobility management made care available through encrypted sessions, whilst meeting compliance and security standards.
With a robust mobility strategy, re-admission rates can also be reduced. While patients can receive targeted care in the field, not only can they be effectively monitored around-the-clock, they are also empowered by monitoring their own progress.
Cutting tape to cut costs
To really benefit from these efficiencies, there needs to be an organisational shift to turn this wider understanding of the need for a mobility management strategy into practical implementation.
Naturally, some NHS Trusts face barriers to optimising the mobility of the workforce. A key challenge facing healthcare IT pros is how to prove these devices, both onsite and in the field, can operate without compromising data security, compliance and usability.
From containing confidential information about patients’ care, to planning the nurses’ schedule of visits, mobile devices must be functional and secured at all times. There is no option of having any downtime from non-working devices.
Engaging, inspiring and empowering staff throughout the procurement process and the deployment phase will ensure teams are invested in the technology. The way these mobile devices are managed – whether it be the monitoring equipment, tablets, Bluetooth scanners, laptops or the software applications themselves – it is fundamentally important to opening up new ways of cost-effective working.
In short, the implementation of a centrally managed mobility strategy can take the strain off of hospitals by reducing waiting times, decreasing patient volumes and healthcare costs, whilst improving the overall patient experience.
Sourced from Carl Rodrigues, CEO at SOTI