Over the last few years there have been fundamental changes to healthcare provision in this country. It’s not just that people are living longer and needing more complex treatments. We’re all being encouraged to take more responsibility for our own health choices. Healthcare organisations are no longer a single supplier. And it doesn’t matter how you’re funded – for example, NHS institutions now compete for GP referrals.
It’s a difficult adjustment for healthcare management teams, whose professional lives and business plans are now governed by customer service indices and performance measures. You have to drive your organisation to put the patient experience at the heart of everything you do, to attract the patients and the funding that comes with them.
Increasingly, it’s mobile technology that’s enabling this focus on customer experience. Mobility gets the information to the places it’s needed, quickly, reliably and securely. It’s part of my role to show healthcare organisations how they can achieve this.
In hospitals, mobility helps clinical staff to access information instantly, wherever they are. Information previously available only on centralised workstations, or in paper format, is now available on mobile devices that are quick to access and easy to use. Take a specialised ward, for example, with a number of patients with similar case histories and medication. Bedside access to patient records can reduce errors and speed up treatment.
And it’s not just hospitals. Mobility provides community workers with access to exactly the same information on-the-move as they have in the office. A good example of this is work we’ve done recently for South London and Maudsley NHS Trust (SLaM), one of the UK’s largest providers of mental health and substance misuse services. SLaM has a large network of community sites and clinics with significant facilities costs. And with many patients finding it difficult to attend a clinic, the number of missed appointments was high.
So we’ve given care workers the ability to treat more patients in their own homes. Mobile devices provide secure app-based access to information using interfaces that staff already know how to use. They can update information on the spot, which means they can spend more time seeing patients and less on admin. Records are much more accurate, too. And removing the barrier of travel to a clinic has reduced the number of missed appointments. All in all, SLaM has been able to reduce the number of sites it runs from over 100 to less than 70, with huge cost savings.
Patient experience isn’t only about the quality of the medical care though. Patients, particularly those who are admitted for longer periods of time, are influenced by other factors, like food or the availability of internet access so they can keep in touch with family and friends. To take a simple example, over half of patients in Scottish hospitals are expected to choose their meals over a day in advance. So by the time the food arrives, it’s often not what the patient wants to eat. In some hospitals, 40% of food delivered is being wasted. A mobility solution can help patients to make their choices nearer to meal times, reducing the cost of wasted food, and ultimately improving patient health.
Of course, our healthcare needs will continue to change. But with a flexible, agile approach to mobility, healthcare organisations can keep their focus firmly on the patient experience.
If you’d like to find out more about mobility in healthcare, call 01235 433507.