Mobile technology reduces administrative/travel time while improving the patient experience and clinical outcomes
Virgin Care has become one of the first NHS providers to equip staff with tablet computers running TotalMobile, a mobile working solution that gives nurses access to all of the essential information they need while visiting patients at home.
Our philosophy is to give the healthcare professional properly optimised technology to support remote working activities, and to provide healthcare organisations with the opportunity to reconfigure their health services effectively, reducing time on administration and improving care
Early evaluation of the deployment has found that nurses are able to individually see almost two more patients a day and there was a 60% reduction in time spent on paperwork, freeing up more of their time to care for patients.
Initially Virgin Care, which has been providing NHS community healthcare services in Surrey since April 2012 as part of a five-year contract, discovered that nurses were only spending a third of their day with patients. In addition, the previous paper-based system resulted in duplicated data entry, unnecessary trips back and forth from the office to collect patient notes, and incomplete records. This increased the level of clinical risk to patients and reduced service efficiency where time could be better spent delivering patient care.
To meet these challenges, Virgin Care deployed a mobile working solution called TotalMobile for Healthcare, designed to reduce the time district nurses were spending on non-patient-facing administration time and reallocate it to patient care. The solution, which was procured in consultation with Virgin Care clinicians, also aims to reduce clinical risk and improve service efficiency.
By forming a clinical user group, the clinicians, in addition to administrators from the community nursing service, worked closely with TotalMobile to redesign workflows and build the solution, which included form design. Early involvement from clinicians in developing the solution resulted in an engaged workforce receptive to change.
The initiative has involved designing a referral management, electronic scheduling and mobile working solution. This has provided the service with the ability to capture all referrals in a central point and to manage their demand and capacity in real time using the electronic scheduler.
This has been achieved by providing nurses with tablet computers that allow them to securely access patient notes and update records in real-time. The tablets also provide nurses with access to their e-mails, give them the ability to order urgent equipment for patients, allow them to undertake training and have access to reference/support documentation while on the move.
The tablet computers allow nurses to electronically connect securely into back-office systems while on the go meaning that patient information is automatically updated and reducing duplicate data entry by nurses.
Not only does this remove a very inefficient process of filling in the same forms up to three times; it means sharing information with other clinicians within the care pathway is much easier and less time intensive. The solution is able to integrate into multiple systems meaning the technology is scalable across the healthcare economy with GPs, local hospitals and other healthcare providers.
Not only has this enabled nurses to spend more time with their patients by increasing patient-facing time by 29% in the first 12 weeks; it has significantly improved the efficiency of the service and reduced clinical risk
Even when community nurses are temporarily without a signal, they can securely login to the application offline, record notes and clinical tasks, which automatically updates the systems back in the office.
There are also a range of security measures in place to not only secure data on the device, but also during transmission to back-office systems, so information such as electronic patient records are never exposed even if a device is lost or stolen.
Marie Cummings, Virgin Care clinical and nursing specialist for the project, said: “I have worked within community nursing for almost 15 years and have never come across a solution which has significantly changed the way we are able to deliver the service for the better. Not only has this enabled nurses to spend more time with their patients by increasing patient-facing time by 29% in the first 12 weeks; it has significantly improved the efficiency of the service and reduced clinical risk.
“Our nurses now have the correct information they require at the point of contact with the patient while the standard of our record keeping has been mandated to support better clinical outcomes for patients. We are able to have an oversight of our resources in real time and manage demand and capacity while ensuring the nurse who is most appropriately skilled visits the patient, maintaining continuity of care and improved lone worker safety.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved within the first few months of this project and I have no doubt that this will change the way community services are delivered, more importantly providing a better patient experience. I am excited to see how we can continue to work with TotalMobile to enhance and inform the solution further. I believe the opportunities to be endless.”
Colin Reid, chief executive of TotalMobile, added: “Our philosophy is to give the healthcare professional properly optimised technology to support remote working activities, and to provide healthcare organisations with the opportunity to reconfigure their health services effectively, reducing time on administration and improving care.”