Multitone have enjoyed a long relationship with NHS Trusts throughout the United Kingdom. That’s particularly true of one Foundation Trust in the North West of England which recently chose us as their digital clinical communications provider, expanding upon their existing Multitone critical comms system.
The pivot towards apps
The UK government has set the NHS in England the target of phasing out paging for non-emergency communications within the next few years (initially, this was targeted for the end of 2021, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an extension). Whilst paging still has a place for life-critical situations like cardiac arrests, the ubiquity of smartphones means better technologies for everyday communication are now available.
To support NHS Trusts in making this transition to digital communications tools, NHSX’s Clinical Communications Procurement Framework offers Trusts with both the convenience of being able to choose from pre-approved suppliers, with significant time and cost savings, and the opportunity to receive funding for their chosen project.
As part of the clinical communications framework, Multitone was chosen by the Trust to provide clinical communications apps for non-critical pager replacement. The Trust successfully applied for funding from the framework to cover the project, giving them access to better technologies without drawing upon vital care budgets.
The Foundation Trust, which provides services to around 250,000 people, purchased 450 licences for our Appear and Appear Lite apps. In addition, we supplied a DMZ server to add additional security when using the apps on external internet connections (including mobile data networks).
Multitone is an ideal partner for the Trust as our relationship with them already stretches back over 2 decades. Having recently upgraded to Multitone i-Message, which supports paging as well as a host of other solutions, the platform was already in place to introduce our clinical communications apps. Expanding their existing Multitone system to include apps has several advantages.
Firstly, Multitone’s apps can integrate with other Multitone solutions and even with 3rd party systems, like alarms, for automatically-generated alerts. Working with a single provider for various communications technologies also reduces complexity in procurement, support and evolution of the overall system. It means having one integrated communications network for the hospital rather than multiple siloed systems.
Secondly, Multitone’s apps offer a unique level of flexibility. Unlike many other clinical communications apps, Multitone’s apps, in conjunction with i-Message, are capable of running solely on LAN, isolated entirely from external internet connections. On the other end of the spectrum, they can be entirely cloud-based. We are able to accommodate whatever best addresses the customer’s needs.
In this Trust’s case, i-Message sits physically on-site within their hospital, behind their firewalls and protected by physical redundancies like backup power. i-Message is connected to the internet so app users can continue to use the app off-site or connected to mobile data networks.
For extra security, the Trust decided to purchase a DMZ server for connecting i-Message to the outside world, providing the most robust defence possible against malicious activities like denial-of-service (DoS) attacks. This is on top of the end-to-end encryption and other security measures already built into i-Message and our apps, as well as the Trust’s own pre-existing cyber security measures.
Appear and Appear Lite in action
The Trust’s licence agreement gives them access to both Multitone Appear and Appear Lite. These apps serve different purposes, and can be used either separately or together on the same device, depending on a particular team’s needs.
Multitone Appear is a two-way communications app, which is at its core a messaging app with similar functionality to WhatsApp. However, Appear is built for professional use only, which means its contact list is centrally administered, and this prevents any crossover between work and personal usage. However, thanks to i-Message, Appear provides more than just the ability to instant message. It provides a one-stop address book to contact colleagues by mobile voice call, VoIP, text message and email, saving staff time whichever approach they want to take.
Appear Lite functions more as a direct pager replacement tool. It’s a simple one-way communications app, which facilitates the sending of alert messages to staff. Unlike a traditional pager, however, staff are able to respond to messages via a simple acknowledgement function, providing assurances that they’re on their way. To mimic pagers, which are impossible to ignore, Appear Lite features silent and Do Not Disturb (DND) override for high-priority alerts, issuing a loud alert tone and an on-screen push notification. With configurable pre-set alert messages, customisable alert levels and a range of other options, Appear Lite can be tailored to meet the needs of each individual organisation.
An evolving communications ecosystem
While it’s early days for the Trust’s pager replacement project, we’re delighted to continue to support and facilitate their vital clinical communications into the future. In addition, thanks to our diverse range of solutions built around Multitone i-Message, our powerful hybrid messaging platform, the Trust has the opportunity to embrace further digital transformation based around asset tracking, automation and system integration.
To learn more the clinical communications and pager replacement options available to NHS Trusts, get in touch with us today.