James Kippenberger of Big Hand Digital Dictation talks about how mental health trusts are leading the way in equipping staff with dictation technology
As health and social care services grapple with the challenge of delivering integrated care, it is widely recognised that technology can play a major part in connecting services and empowering care professionals to improve pathways.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of mental health trusts that have taken the leap towards deploying mobile technologies to support their clinicians
Although there is a high degree of local variability in the uptake of innovation and the introduction of new models of electronic healthcare, there is strong evidence to suggest that mental health trusts are among the most pro-active in terms of their adoption of new technologies.
There has been a sharp increase in the number of mental health trusts that have taken the leap towards deploying mobile technologies to support their clinicians.
With a high percentage of work in mental health being carried out remotely, either in the community or directly in patients’ homes, a growing number of mental health trusts have recognised the need to give clinicians the best tools, and are equipping them with smartphone technology that can help improve their efficiency and connectivity.
For example, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust, which has used digital dictation solutions since 2011 and subsequently deployed it over BlackBerry devices, has recently bolstered its remote working capabilities by increasing its number of mobile devices to enable more staff to access clinical information while on the move.
The trust has upgraded to BlackBerry 10 and plans to ensure all community psychiatric nurses have mobile devices by the end of this year. By March 2014, it expects as many as 1,800 staff will be using smartphone technology. Other mental health trusts are following suit and piloting the use of mobile devices among their field-based care professionals.
By giving nurses the ability to dictate notes while on the move – rather than typing up their own handwritten notes – mental health trusts are recognising that they can free nurses up to spend more time with service users and patients
As part of widespread moves to mobilise and support care professionals, a growing number of mental health trusts have moved straight from analogue to smartphone dictation systems – removing the interim step to digital dictation systems that other parts of the NHS have commonly taken – enabling clinicians to use leading-edge voice recognition technology to document patient information quickly, accurately and effectively.
Alongside this, they can also benefit from timely access to patient dialogue, monitoring and treatment plans using their mobile devices. This is not only empowering field-based clinicians to become more agile and accelerating the delivery of care, it is also helping trusts deliver operational efficiencies and associated cost savings.
And mobile dictation services are not only being extended to mental health clinicians; there is also an increasing national appetite for empowering community psychiatric nurses with similar technology.
This direction of travel is in recognition of the efficiency and, significantly, productivity gains that mobile dictation can provide. By giving nurses the ability to dictate notes while on the move – rather than typing up their own handwritten notes – mental health trusts are recognising that they can free nurses up to spend more time with service users and patients.
As the NHS strives to push more care out of hospitals and into the community, the use of mobile technologies is only likely to grow
One trust estimates that mobile dictation could increase nurses’ patient-facing time by more than 20%. This is a great example of how mobile technology can not only be used to reduce costs, it can also help change working practices and improve care pathways by facilitating increased patient-focused time.
As the NHS strives to push more care out of hospitals and into the community, the use of mobile technologies is only likely to grow. But as health and social care organisations battle to optimise technology to deliver significant efficiency gains and improve health outcomes, it’s clear that mental health trusts are becoming one of the most progressive parts of the health service. Many are recognising mobile and smartphone technologies as sensible investments, and are equipping their staff with the right devices at the right time, to help them work more efficiently and effectively. And the patient benefits of this approach are already being realised.