For professionals working in the healthcare sector, being able to access and process information on the move it is not simply a convenience – it means being able to spend more time caring for patients and saving lives.
Back in 2009, Portsmouth NHS Trust was looking for a way to help its midwives spend less time doing paperwork at the hospital and more time helping expectant mothers through their pregnancy. At the time, midwives would fill out paper forms while visiting mothers-to-be in their homes, and the contents of those forms would be entered into an electronic system later on.
To reduce this duplicated effort without entirely disrupting the way the midwives were used to working, the Trust chose to deploy a system that combined Research In Motion’s BlackBerry smartphones with digital pen devices from Paper IQ.
The midwives still complete paper forms using the digital pen, but their pen strokes are recorded and securely transferred via bluetooth to the BlackBerry device. This encrypts the data and transmits it back to the BlackBerry server at Portsmouth NHS Trust via the Internet. Once there, it is rebuilt into PDF, document or XML formats and archived in a repository.
Daniel Morrison-Gardiner, healthcare director at RIM, says the combination of BlackBerry and digital pen allows midwives to spend more time with mothers-to-be and their families. “That time is also now better quality, because they’ve got access to all the information they need and the ability to collect and transmit information securely in real time from wherever they are.”
Morrison-Gardiner says that the midwives have found other ways in which a BlackBerry can aid them in their day-to-day work. These include using GPS to optimise routes to the homes they visit, communicating securely with co-workers on BlackBerry Messenger and synchronising appointments via a shared calendar. “They’ve very quickly got accustomed to the technology and taken to using it in areas that we didn’t necessarily think would be in the original scope.”
He says that in the first year of using the devices, the Trust expects to have saved more than £220,000 in administrative and petrol costs. Morrison-Gardiner believes that the greatest benefit brought by the project, however, is the improved experience for the patient: “These are healthcare workers experienced in dealing with expectant mothers and their families – this technology allows them more time to do that.”
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