Multitone Electronics plc,
Shortwood Copse Lane,
Tel: 01506 418198
The need to do more with less is prevalent in all organisations, both in the public and private sectors, but is especially important for NHS Trusts. Whilst we are all aware of this, it can at times feel like an enormous quest – so how can this really be achieved with tangible results?
Currently there are two key initiatives driving the requirement for change within the NHS, one is the NHS QUIPP Challenge, the objective of which is to reduce costs by £15bn -
Currently Monitor, the independent regulator for NHS Trusts, chaired by Dr David Bennet, is tasked with ensuring that such integrated patient care takes place and efficiencies are achieved throughout all the Trusts. By focusing on patient wants and needs, understanding what clinicians require to fulfil their duties and work more effectively; will ultimately deliver both the enhanced care and cost efficiencies. Effectively this creates knowledge share -
For such knowledge share to be effective, a cohesive infrastructure is required. This requires the ability to integrate disparate information systems, with different communication platforms, for a range of communications options with differing end points. Combining different technologies with different devices, such as WiFi, Desk Phones, Cordless Phones, PCs, Computers-
It must be remembered is not just clinical staff that need to deliver services in our hospitals. By providing more efficient methods of communicating and delivering the right information to those who need it, will allow all staff from all levels and services, (from the Porter to the Senior Clinician) to deliver higher performance standards. All of which ultimately benefits the patient and delivers efficiency benefits right across the organisation.
Careful planning is the key
When thinking about how to build the right infrastructure and ensuring that the right device is available, it’s important to look at the forces driving and influencing the use of technology and the type of technology used. Key factors include:
• Performance and legislation
• The financial or economic environment
• Technology and social change
• Reliability and deliverability of service
• Security and information management
These factors combine to influence the change of technology usage not only in healthcare but in many other areas of business, industry and social environments. The impact these considerations may have on the organisation will differ. How you can best maximise and utilise these changes are factors that will help to shape how the organisation will function.
One of the growing methods of delivering information to the point-
Bring Your Own Device?
As an example of a response to the need to maximise cost benefit, some organisations are actively considering BYOD (Bring Your own Device). Initially the financial case for this strategy seems to be very strong. There would be no need to have a department administrating Mobile devices, Users, SIMS etc., so costs could be reduced.
However, there will be a requirement to monitor which devices are available, ensuring that they operate correctly across the internal networks. There will be a constant requirement to check and administer phone numbers, to provide local PBX management, to administer multiple and personal email addresses -
• Who is responsible for the functioning of the device?
• Who is responsible for paying for the devices and ensuring that no bars are in place?
• Who is responsible for ensuring that vital messages get through in an emergency?
• Who is responsible for ensuring that the consumer devices are compatible with your own in-
So a well-
One of the most important considerations for any healthcare organisation is security -
Technology for Technology’s sake?
To get a truly objective view of the debate it’s important to consider why consumers want to use very sophisticated communication devices within the workplace. Would it be fair to suggest that consumers could be guilty of just using technology for technology sake, just because it is available and new? Has technology become more of a fashion or a status item rather than an aid to communications and if so does this really have a place to play in the
workplace? Do consumers really understand and maximise the technology that they have bought?
Consumer technology is sometimes more advanced in terms of its use, adoption and possibly innovation than that which is applied to the organisational environment. The IP and Wireless revolution is providing a creative force for change, with the development of new and innovative solutions structured for the work environment. There is not only an expectation, but a demand even, that these solutions will be available to new and young professionals entering the healthcare sector. In fact any sector of the UK economy. The question for healthcare organisations is: can we or should they meet this challenge?
In a healthcare or business environment, it should be questioned if IT managers always need to demonstrate that they are ahead of the technology curve by always looking for the next new advancement or could they prove their functional worth by utilising the technology they currently have, but in a more efficient way? Perhaps they should not be nervous of promoting older technologies, as long as it is the most relevant technology for the department or people concerned and matches the staff requirements. For example; a robust on-
In the end the question is one of balance, using the right application to meet the actual, rather than perceived need. By doing this, we are not only providing the right tools, we are also doing this in the most expedient way, maximising both efficiency and efficacy in terms or the desired improvement.
Maintaining the failsafe
Well implemented and planned technology can make life easier and having communications on tap can be an important part of this. However what happens when something goes wrong?
Communications technology needs to work well -
In a Hospital it’s imperative that all technology delivers. In an emergency there is no margin for error. Those responsible for the delivery of internal communication systems should create a system whereby the device, with the right levels of reliability is available for the task in hand. SMART devices, for example, should predominantly be used for one-
When communicating to groups (or one person to many), mobile devices send the message sequentially and therefore it will take a bit of time to reach all of the required recipients. If the message is not vital and seconds do not count then this is an acceptable method to use. However, if the message needs to reach a team of people urgently then the bleep system is often more appropriate, as the message is broadcast to the required personnel at the same time.
Normally, no discussion is required, emergency teams are trained to react on the information supplied and do not waste time responding or asking questions -
Likewise communication networks must be reliable, risk strategies must be employed when things can and do go wrong, back-
Measuring the benefits
From a management perspective, technology must be measurable, so change and implementation can be measured and where required re-
By using technology, you get a bird’s eye view of all activity within the organisation, giving you management information in which to base more informed, strategic decisions. It can be used to gauge resource use and allocation. If, for example a senior clinician is receiving too many interrupts from a bleeper and internal text messages, this can impact patient through-
Real examples in the healthcare sector
It’s useful to consider real-
• Alarms on machines such as blood bank fridges or medicine storage fridges. When these are not working within optimum parameters, the machine will send an alert to maintenance, thereby ensuring that the blood and medical supplies is protected; saving costs, saving time in terms of rescheduling resources.
• Patients who need extra care, such as dementia patients can be monitored from a distance, so that the care is always there and less intrusive for the patient. For example, if they are getting close to an area deemed hazardous, a discreet alarm can be sent to dedicated staff who can guide the patient back to where an area in which they are safe. You can even use technology to remind low level dementia patients to take medication at appropriate times.
• Using bleepers in the healthcare environment is an alternative approach to call and remind patients of appointments hours before attendance and used in the waiting room environment, allowing them to use hospital retail and restaurant facilities, making their attendance a more pleasant experience.
Whatever technologies you choose to work with within your organisation, it must be the best fit for you and it must be flexible to allow you to develop and enhance solutions and develop applications over time.
In essence the best approach is one of choice and control. A mixture of older and newer technology that can interact and be applied to provide the right tools for the right situation, will offer numerous benefits including saving time, improving workflow and reducing costs.
|Alarms & Monitoring|
|Wireless Server 400|
|Wireless Server 2500|
|Wireless Server 6500|
|Wireless Server 8000|