Circle looks to save Hinchingbrooke staff time with mobile devices

Private healthcare firm plans use of mobile and wireless technology to make the NHS hospital more efficient

I’ve also interviewed Circle head Ali Parsa twice, most recently here.

Powered by article titled “Circle looks to save Hinchingbrooke staff time with mobile devices” was written by SA Mathieson, for on Thursday 5th April 2012 10.16 UTC

Hinchingbrooke Health Care trust will install a wireless network as a first step towards becoming a paper-light hospital, according to the IT head of private healthcare firm that recently took over its management.

Under Circle, which began running the Cambridgeshire acute trust in February under a 10-year agreement, the hospital will install a currently-lacking wireless network, Gary Mudie, Circle’s IT director, said.

Circle is also planning to use the Wi-Fi network to underpin a roll out of mobile devices, allowing nurses and other staff to complete administrative work at the bedside.

The deployment of RFID for patient tracking is also under consideration, potentially saving staff time spent locating patients and providing a better service for visitors, Mudie added. RFID, combined with the Wi-Fi network, will help Circle with one of its key aims for Hinchingbrooke: increasing the amount of time spent by nurses with patients from one-quarter of their time to two-thirds.

The trust is also seeking approval for patients to use mobile telephones in many areas of the hospital, as an alternative to introducing its own patient telephone system, and is planning to implement a new patient entertainment system.

Mudie was previously logistics director for Asos and hopes to bring the online retailer’s three click rule – “you had to be able, within three clicks, to purchase something” – to Hinchingbrooke, allowing staff to complete common administration tasks such as discharges in the same timeframe.

Digitising patient records is also on the trust’s agenda: in April, it will replace paper records with a new Ascribe Symphony patient administration system in its emergency department, procured before Circle took over, and it has also bought a new radiology information system.

Later this year, Mudie plans to look at electronic discharge, although he added that he sees no urgent need to replace systems, including paper-based ones, if they are working well.

Despite being run by a private company, the trust will continue to have its own systems rather than moving to any common platforms run by Circle. It will also continue to buy IT as an NHS trust and to use NHS-wide systems.

NHS staff working at Hinchingbrooke have retained their existing terms and conditions after the transition to Circle, and the trust’s IT staff do not report directly to Mudie, although this may change in future.

The IT director told Guardian Government Computing that he hopes to change Hinchingbrooke’s IT function. “It’s a very traditional IT function,” he said, focusing on “boxes and cables”.

“We’re trying to elevate their position,” Mudie added.

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