How technology and communication systems are improving team-based clinical workflows and patient care

The NHSX Clinical Communications Procurement Framework is supporting the take-up of the latest technology.

Thanks to advances in technology, hospitals and other healthcare facilities now have access to more robust and effective communication systems than ever before. These are having a positive impact on budgets and on patient care, because they enable better-organised resource management for support staff and both permanent and temporary medical and nursing teams.

In this blog, we look at examples of how NHS Trusts are taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the NHSX Clinical Communications Procurement Framework to apply the latest technologies in day-to-day operations.

Efficient team-based clinical workflows

Ensuring that hospitals and healthcare providers have highly efficient clinical workflows in place is crucial for patient care and the optimal use of resources. Busy staff members have a range of competing priorities outside hands-on care, such as bed management, regular handovers between colleagues, reviewing patient records and making referrals. These workflows involving medical and nursing staff must be as streamlined as possible to prevent them from becoming a burden and detracting from patient care.

Technology is playing an increasing part in delivering more effective clinical workflow, reducing the use of less efficient paper systems and the potential for miscommunication.

Messaging apps are a key part of the solution because they are intuitive and suit the way people naturally communicate in the 21st century. The majority of us are familiar with messaging apps, although the popular commercial brands lack the regulatory compliance that is vital when handling sensitive personal data within the NHS.

The new NHSX procurement project provides financial support and a framework for NHS Trusts to embrace smart app technology, complementing the use of modern, critical paging with specially designed messaging systems that allow staff to:

  • Share photos and downloads of X-rays, ultrasounds and other medical images with clinical colleagues securely and quickly
  • Look up names of staff colleagues by name or title and immediately ascertain who is on duty at any given point
  • Access clinical records digitally via QR codes and other technologies

By providing staff teams with secure, purpose-built smart app technology, clinicians and nursing staff can communicate more quickly and efficiently, ultimately improving patient care.

The evidence base supporting smart app technology in hospitals

Over the past two years, there has been a growing evidence base to support the introduction of smart app technology.

A pilot project which introduced a smartphone app in a leading NHS Foundation Trust concluded that there were better outcomes for patient safety, use of resources, and the day-to-day experience of staff, patients, relatives and carers. The app facilitated clearer exchange of information and enhanced the efficiency of communication between acute and primary care teams. Furthermore, the time spent by a nurse on each take-home prescription and patient review was greatly reduced, equating to a significant time saving per shift which in turn increased staff capacity[1].

Integrated asset tracking and management systems

Smart apps are not the only way in which the NHS can use advanced technology to operate more effectively. Asset tracking and management systems have a significant role, using either RFID or Bluetooth LE tags alongside signal scanners and specially developed software.

During 2019, Multitone trialled an asset tracking management system with a major NHS Trust in Northern Ireland. The system enables the hospital to track and keep accurate records of the Trust’s assets, including beds, mattresses and covers, ECG monitors, hoists, wheelchairs and much more.

This fully integrated asset management solution provides real-time asset location information, records the status of each piece of equipment, improves workflows and assigns cleaning and maintenance tasks to the relevant teams and individuals. The trial resulted in improvements in the time spent locating equipment, the establishment of an automatic, paperless audit trail, an improvement in hygiene standards and greater availability of equipment due to faster cleaning and maintenance.

Further information

Multitone is proud to be part of the NHSX procurement framework for new clinical communications tools. We passionately believe in the importance of providing NHS staff with the appropriate communication tools, allowing them to access accurate patient information in real-time. To find out more about the solutions and technologies we offer healthcare providers click here. Alternatively, you can visit our contact page, call us on 01256 320292 or email us at [email protected].