The Journal of mHealth Vol 1 Issue 3 (June 2014) - Page 29

Social Networking 'Transforms' How Healthcare Teams Work Social Networking and Alerts Technology ‘Transforms’ How Healthcare Teams Work New technology which gives instant alerts about patients to healthcare staff and allows them to communicate on a secure social network has “transformed” how teams work and “significantly improves patient care”, according to a leading clinician. Dr Michael Bedford, a renal research registrar, hailed the success of a trial which gives medical staff at East Kent Hospitals University NHS Trust mobile alerts in real time about acute kidney injury patients. Once alerted, the medical team, often spread across multiple sites, can discuss the next steps via a secure social media style system of messaging and responding. The first four months of the pilot with DocCom’s Notify and Careflow software have shown faster decision making, enhanced patient care and improved overall efficiency within East Kent’s renal department. The team are hoping to see a further impact in terms of realising the subsequent cost savings over the coming months. Dr Bedford said: “This technology really does have the ability to completely transform how we work and ultimately, improve patient care significantly.” The team was frustrated that their existing system of emails, text messaging and paging, combined with face-to-face meetings was causing delays for patients and healthcare teams alike. Dr Chris Farmer, Associate Medical Director for IT at EKHUFT, said: “In the past, we have seen cases where a patient has arrived at A&E and there has been an unavoidable delay before they are seen by a specialist in charge of their care. With the DocCom systems in place, the right people have been informed of their arrival immediately, and they have been with the patient within an hour.” The EKHUFT team found the DocCom systems easy to set up and use, and said this significantly contributed to the trial’s success. Dr Farmer added: “It’s the easiest IT system I have ever implemented. No training was required, it was completely intuitive. The benefits are immediate and obvious, and people like using it. The beauty lies in its simplicity. They haven’t tried to be clever and only kept in what is needed.” Whilst the clinical teams have seen first-hand how the systems can transform their day-to-day practice, the Trust’s Medical Director, Dr Paul Stevens said there has been an improvement in overall efficiency. “The system provides an easy way to get everyone together to make a quick decision. And importantly for me, this has fantastic potential for improving patient safety and ensuring the correct accountability,” he said. Dr Stevens urged other Trusts to come and witness what can be achieved with this technology. “For Trusts that are willing to adopt and embrace social technology, I believe the possibilities are endless. We could see major improvements in communication between primary and secondary care for the explicit benefit of patients. With the DocCom systems developed, all Trusts need to do is invest in the infrastructure to make these improvements a reality.” DocCom estimates that with results such as those in East Kent, significant cost savings can be made. For example, a 20% reduction in an AKI patient’s length of stay would translate to savings for the hospital of up to £7.7m a year. Dr Jon Shaw, DocCom’s Managing Director and Founding Partner, said: “We are delighted with how the renal team at East Kent – and most importantly their patients – have been able to benefit from the technology. Thanks to the success of the pilot, we are now working with EKHUFT to roll out the use of the technology to benefit other departments across the Trust.” n The Journal of mHealth 27