"The sky’s the limit for our mobile strategy. There’s almost no limit to the ways we can deliver apps that boost clinician effectiveness and enable better patient outcomes."Mark Walker, Head of IT, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust provides physical and mental health services and social care for people of all ages across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Swindon, and Bath and North East Somerset. In delivering its services, the Trust works in partnership with a wide range of other organizations such as the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, and the University of Bedfordshire.
Seeking to increase the mobility of its clinicians without putting sensitive patient data at risk, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust recently implemented a MobileIron enterprise mobility management (EMM) platform. This has contributed to the Trust making savings and efficiency gains totaling more than £1 million per year. The organization’s clinicians can now log onto secured iPads to offer long-distance counseling sessions via video chat, take notes during patient visits, get guidance on discussing sensitive topics, and use video recordings to enhance the quality of care they provide.
A Mobile Clinician Is an Effective Clinician
Healthcare in the twenty-first century means rising patient demands and the locus of care shifting away from hospitals, clinics and doctor’s surgeries to patients’ homes. Against this backdrop, the Trust serves more than 130,000 active patients and each year, this is 1.2 million appointments and around 425,000 home visits.
Oxford Health needed to make health digital. With 6,200 members of staff working out of 150 sites, the Trust needed to do more with less resource. A big part of this was increasing the mobility of its clinicians without putting sensitive patient data at risk. For example, mobility would enable the organisation to improve patient care with one-to-one support and treatment in the home. By providing clinicians with the tools to be efficient on the move, whilst also ensuring data security, the Trust aimed to improve service delivery and ultimately successful treatments and patient outcomes.
The Trust initially tried to meet its clinicians’ mobile needs by issuing laptops and BlackBerry devices. But limitations in the United Kingdom’s cellular reception and the hassle of authenticating laptops on mobile networks led the organization to rethink its mobile strategy.
"Laptops were getting in the way of our clinicians’ efforts to spend less time on administration and more time with patients,” recalls Mark Walker, Head of IT, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust. “When our clinicians made home visits, they were becoming frustrated by the amount of time they had to spend just getting their laptops up and running. Taking notes on laptops during appointments was so cumbersome that many clinicians were actually jotting down notes on paper and entering the data into a computer back at the office."
That’s when Walker and his team had a brainstorm: they realized they could issue iPads to clinicians to increase their connectivity and streamline their most common administrative tasks. The IT department tested the concept by deploying about 40 iPads to clinicians in the field. Users delivered overwhelmingly positive feedback, reporting that they were not only getting more work done due to the ease of access, but also enjoying the ability to use the iPads for personal tasks. Just one challenge remained.
"We’re highly risk averse when it comes to patient data,” Walker explains. “We manually configured the security settings on each iPad that we issued during our pilot project, but we knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up with that kind of workload if we decided to deploy hundreds of iPads across the counties we service. We needed a way to keep our data secure without hindering the user experience for our clinicians."
Oxford Health formed its shortlist of potential EMM vendors by referring to the Gartner Magic Quadrant. After closely evaluating solutions from AirWatch and Symantec, Oxford Health selected MobileIron for its ease of use, flexibility, and reasonable cost. With the help of technology partner Qolcom, the organization went live on its first EMM platform.
Better Patient Outcomes Begin with the Right Clinician Apps
Today, nearly 3,000 Oxford Health clinicians, nurses, managers, and executives use iPads to streamline a variety of daily duties. The ability for employees to share and collaborate securely while on the move has improved productivity, cut costs, resulted in better patient outcomes, and enhanced the Trust’s ability to remain compliant with patient data privacy regulations.
MobileIron has contributed to the Trust making savings and efficiency gains totaling more than £1 million per year. Not only can employees now easily access their email and calendars from virtually anywhere, but they can also visit the organization’s online app store to download a variety of apps that help them work more effectively.
So far, clinicians have benefited most. By simply pulling up Skype or FaceTime, they can offer secure, long-distance consultation to patients in need of health services but who may be unable to come into a clinic. These online meetings allow clinicians to reach more patients while also reducing travel costs for the Trust. Since August 2013, this has resulted in cost-savings of £105,278.
In addition, Oxford Health worked with IT solution provider Advanced Health & Care to develop an app called CareNotes Mobile that dramatically streamlines patient administration for clinicians. The app allows clinicians to download patient information for all their scheduled visits on any given day and store it securely on their iPad. Clinicians can then pull up patient files and take notes throughout each visit, regardless of whether they’re connected to a wi-fi or cellular network. Once a clinician comes back within range of the internet, the app automatically uploads all data and notes to Oxford Health’s patient management system.
"We’ve only been live on CareNotes Mobile for a couple of months, but the benefits are obvious,” says Walker. “Rather than going through the clunky process of taking notes on their laptops, or taking notes on paper and then typing them into the patient management system later, our clinicians can now seamlessly take notes on their iPads as they work. We’ve eliminated a major barrier to their productivity."
Another newly developed app helps guide clinicians through conversations about especially sensitive topics that can affect family planning health. By discreetly clicking through a script on the screen of an iPad, any clinician can ensure they’re following best practices for discussing a difficult subject—potentially leading to better patient outcomes.
Many of Oxford Health’s clinicians are beginning to use video to enhance their work with patients. Although iPads make it easy for them to capture footage, they provide only limited space to store the film clips. To solve this problem, Oxford Health is working with an outside app developer to create an app that automatically compresses video files, links them to patient records, and uploads them to a secure repository where they can be shared with other clinicians and their mentors.
"Some of our patients can benefit by comparing videos of their behavior several months ago to the way they behave now,” explains Walker. “Video is also useful in allowing our clinicians to get feedback from their mentors on the effectiveness of their counseling methods. Deploying our new video app will enable us to get the most out of the iPad’s video capabilities as we seek to provide a higher level of care throughout the counties we service."
When it Comes to Apps, the Sky’s the Limit
As a healthcare provider, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust is subject to numerous regulations on patient privacy. MobileIron Web@Work has been instrumental in giving the organization assurance that it is adequately encrypting patient data in motion and at rest. Next, Oxford Health plans to test ways to use mobile devices to collect data on specific ailments and feed it back into its systems for more proactive decision-making. It also hopes to deploy apps that make it easier for patients to assess their own mental health and share this data with clinicians.
"From day one, MobileIron has helped us with clinical care decision making. This includes decision making that saves lives. Now that we’ve deployed 3,000 iPads and established a way to secure and manage them through MobileIron, the sky’s the limit for our mobile strategy,” says Walker. “There’s almost no limit to the ways we can deliver apps that boost clinician effectiveness and enable better patient outcomes. This is exactly what we hoped our mobile initiative would be."