What The NHS Can Learn from Social Housing

By Laraine Geddes

 

David Murray, CEO of Kirona suggests it’s time the NHS learnt from the housing sector in their approach to adopting technology in order to reduce costs and improve quality of service

The challenges facing the NHS are well recognised. The continued funding squeeze, rising demand and the need to safeguard quality and data security, combine to exert pressure across the entire system, with none of these factors likely to abate. It’s now widely acknowledged that the time for talking about the challenges needs to make way for action to meet these demands.

Despite the NHS employing 1.7 million people across the UK and being is the country’s biggest employer, there are staff shortages across the whole of the NHS, and some particular pressure points in areas where the workforce needs to grow. The aspiration to move services out of hospital to provide care closer to home, and to offer new models of care delivery, depend on an expanding community care workforce.

A system that enables optimised planning, scheduling and mobilisation of the workforce, particularly in the community is crucial to enabling the NHS meet its challenges.

Such a system is something that is being implemented by some healthcare providers and they are benefiting from savings, improved patient care quality and increased workforce morale. However, healthcare providers adopting these systems are relatively few in number. Conversely within other industries, particularly social housing it is the norm. The system they utilise is known as field service management technology.

Just like healthcare providers social housing providers such as local authorities and housing associations have to plan, schedule and mobilise their community based workforce; in the case of social housing they tend to be looking after properties rather than people. However the same need for customer data security applies, they also have the same need to reduce costs, improve productivity and increase quality of service for the end user; generally to do more with less.

How does it work?

Patient appointments can be planned and scheduled using dynamic scheduling software. This ensures the right practitioner with the right skills is appointed to either a home visit or elsewhere, which is different to rostering. Rostering ensures that you have enough people to fulfil the demand at any point in time.

The practitioner is then able to see the jobs assigned to them for the day ahead via a mobile workforce application. Encrypted, patient records and relevant information are available, securely to them via the mobile workforce application.

Rather than having to travel back to the office to key in patient notes regarding the visit, it can be done via the application during the visit.

Mobile Device Management software, can be applied to the mobile device the practitioner uses, which enables your organisation to manage and control security policies for each mobile user and protect data while both in-motion and when held on the device. This ensures that patient data is secure and in compliance with all healthcare regulations.

Kirona have enabled North Lanarkshire Council to improve their quality of health and social care service, whilst also saving in excess of £1.5m. By implementing Kirona’s field service management solutions across its Housing Property Services and Home Support Services the council have been delighted with the outcomes. Together with the impressive cost savings the council has also improved the service for patients receiving care at home via the Home Support Team, as well as their social housing tenants. Added to this they also have the full support of their workforce who have experienced improved efficiencies in their day to day roles.

In conclusion, the technology exists to meet the challenges of the NHS, it’s just a question when it will be as widely implemented as it already is by social housing providers.

(This article originally appeared in The New Statesman, Spotlight, April 2018 edition)