The Aneurin Bevan Health Board in Gwent, Wales has had huge success since they started using the BlackBerry solution, not just in terms of cost savings, but in the level of care they can effectively deliver to patients in their own homes to either prevent hospital admission, or after the patient has been discharged from hospital.
With many patients being more comfortable receiving treatment in their own homes it has been vital that community workers have had a secure and reliable solution to manage patient records. As well as a BlackBerry smartphone the ABHB staff also utilise a digital pen solution supplied by LAN2LAN Limited and DevelopIQ. This enables them to write patient notes on paper but the information is automatically uploaded to the BlackBerry - clever stuff.
The objectives of the programme are to improve patient care at home, avoid unnecessary hospital visits and improve efficiency. It is vital that caregivers can capture patient information in the patient's home, so that it can be shared with other authorised multi-agency professionals. ABHB knew that it wanted to put a solution into the hands of the caregivers, whilst also empowering the patient but there were several challenges.
All data would have to be secure and confidential; the data-capture device discreet and not disturb the interaction between carer and patient; and a copy of the record had to remain in the home enabling the family and voluntary sector equal access. It needed to increase efficiency on several levels, such as eliminating the duplication of data entry, reducing travel time and increasing the amount of time the carer spends with the patient, while at the same time enabling the carer to see more patients daily.
Finally, it should be easy for health and social care professionals to use and adapt to the new technology. An additional challenge was to give unscheduled care areas such as A&E (Accident and Emergency) or after-hours GP surgeries access to the latest record of community intervention, which is considered vital to prevent unnecessary hospital admissions.
The final challenge was to ensure that the solution would be fully supported by the National Welsh Informatics Service (NWIS) and that it complied with the technical architecture strategy for Wales, patient safety and information governance standards.
Before implementing the solution, caregivers used paper forms for recording patient information and mobile phones for communicating when out in the community. Therefore, ABHB decided to replicate this familiar set-up on a single mobile platform, choosing a proven digital pen solution supplied by LAN2LAN Limited and DevelopIQ, both members of the BlackBerryAlliance Program. By selecting the BlackBerry solution as the single mobile platform, ABHB immediately solved the security issue.
"We have to keep patient identifiable information within the boundaries of the Health Board, and one of the things that BlackBerry brings us is our own BlackBerry Enterprise Server that's contained within our firewall," says Jon Holmes, the head of Health Informatics Programme at ABHB. "So all the patient information that's been sent in and out via BlackBerry has very strong encryption and meets the CESG security standards required."
When it comes to collecting patient information, during each visit, carers fill out the relevant patient form using their digital pen. The digital pen sends a copy of the form as encrypted data via Bluetooth to the BlackBerry smartphone, which in turn pushes the information to the back-end patient system. This enables the original form to be left with the patient at their home and all the information collected by the pen previously is instantly available to other authorised healthcare staff and in addition accessible through the BlackBerry PlayBook browser. The care teams also use BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) instead of texting to communicate. The solution has replaced the paper diary with the BlackBerry Calendar, enabling 200 carers to receive detailed referral information and appointments while out in the community
The BlackBerry solution has provided a robust safety net to underpin the Frailty care pathway. Now, no referrals are missed, no visits are duplicated, the whereabouts of staff is known at all times and detailed clinical information is passed securely and instantly. This, in turn has led to more efficient working and reduced unnecessary admissions, as well as improving staff safety and the care quality. Following phase 1 deployment, users reported an average of 10 minutes saved per patient visit. With an average of five visits per shift and a 200-person user group, this equates to projected annual savings in excess of £600,000. Also, because carers no longer need to go to the office to pick up their schedule or file paperwork, ABHB expects to see significant savings on travel expenses.
The solution is popular with the carers. "We have processes in place to update all staff by email on policies, procedures and alerts. In addition, the BlackBerry solution helps carers feel safer. "We went through a phase of giving out netbooks to some of our community staff and many of the nurses felt that they were vulnerable theft. Also, they didn't like the barrier of having the computer screen between them and the patient."
Most importantly, the solution improves patient care. ABHB expects that even a small decrease in the number of frail patients admitted to hospital will significantly improve patient outcomes and satisfaction.
"I cannot stress highly enough that the biggest benefit is the fact that the BlackBerry solution enables information sharing to prevent unnecessary admissions and keep the patient in their own home as much as possible."