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Best Practice: Implementing an effective mobile working scheme at an NHS trust

03 April 2013


Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) recognised that collecting data for the Department of Health’s Commissioning for Quality and Innovation Payment Framework (CQUIN) by hand was a time-consuming process.
The Trust was keen to unlock the additional funding CQUIN offers, while also reducing administration and maximising the amount of time clinical staff could spend caring for patients.

To resolve the issue, the Trust set about implementing a mobile working scheme using technology from specialist supplier NDL. Apps are now built in-house by WWL’s developers and distributed to tablet computers on the wards, which clinicians then use to input CQUIN data directly into the Trust’s databases.

WWL is close to completing its pilot scheme, in which three apps were trialled on two separate wards, and now expects a full roll-out to begin in late spring. Initial feedback has been extremely positive, with the Trust estimating it has already saved one day of its skilled clinicians’ time per month by streamlining the CQUIN audit.

WWL’s Project Manager, Jamie King, spoke to publictechnology.net to offer his advice on setting up a mobile working project within a clinical setting:

1. Trial your devices

“Setting up a mobile working programme means investing in tablets or smartphones, so it pays to be completely confident in the suitability of your chosen device. When trialling the devices pick at least two options, preferably with different operating systems, and get the teams who will be using the technology on a day-to-day basis to test them extensively. This will inevitably result in fewer surprises further down the line.”

2. Stay flexible

“When choosing a supplier, look for a system that can provide the flexibility to support multiple devices and systems in different departments. With bring-your-own-device projects starting to appear in public sector organisations, it’s important that your delivery method is device-agnostic.”      

3. Don’t forget the integration

Some solutions will require additional vendor-specific APIs which, if only designed to meet a particular purpose, can be costly to replace in the event of any system changes. Ensuring your mobile platform can connect to a range of back office systems will prevent the need to re-type mobile data, which may otherwise negate the efficiencies of a mobile working scheme.

4. You can’t change the world overnight

“Successfully introducing a mobile working project requires a genuine understanding of how your employees work best. Making the shift from paper-based records to digital is not something that can be done overnight; it’s vital to get the devices into end-users’ hands early in the process to encourage employee buy-in.”

5. Concentrate on the “quick wins” first

“From our experience, the more familiar you become with mobile working the more opportunities you will see to deploy it. That said it’s important to identify several simple, quick wins to help build your business case straight away. We started by building three apps that would record the necessary data for smoking cessation questioning, venous thromboembolism assessments and CQUIN’s Patient Safety Thermometer. Having done this, we have strong proof points to put to the management board, which in turn puts us in a good position to justify full deployment.”