South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust has deployed 300 iOS mobile devices onto its network to help with patient care.
The trust has implemented around 100 iPod Touches and 200 iPads across various organisations throughout the trust.
“The current approach is unashamedly oriented around iOS,” said David Hayes, IT operations manager for South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust. “Because the natural security of iOS devices was superior and within our resources at the time looked at it.”
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Hayes said the trust began looking at iPads by offering them to clinicians around two years ago. “We handed the original iPad to clinicians and asked if they could use it as part of their work day,” he said.
The clinicians felt the device was a little too heavy, but the iPad 2 was released shortly after.
“We didn’t think it would make a difference, but the clinicians said it was probably the right weight that could be carried around all day, which surprised us.”
Hayes said a variety of different hospital staff used iPads from the chief executive who “lives and breathes by iPad” and the IT director, who now only turns to his PC when he needs to produce a spreadsheet.
But hospital managers, practice managers and clinicians all use the devices for meeting notes and emails.
The iPads will soon be used for patient care in the coming months. The trust is in the middle of setting up a clinical portal to provide a variety of iPad-supported applications. The portal will deliver clinical apps through the browser and could allow a clinician to pull up a pathology report or a radiology scan at the patient’s bedside, for example, freeing the clinician from the restriction of a full workstation or PC.
“The majority of our apps are Microsoft-based, which can be clunky and a pain to use on an iPad,” said Hayes.
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The tender is out, and the trust will select a supplier in the next two weeks, with a view to have an initial implementation in March/April 2014.
The trust has chosen Accellion to provide mobile productivity systems. The organisation needed a document management and sharing system. “We knew that products like DropBox work very well, and users would use it, but we needed to ensure it met the security requirements of the NHS,” said Hayes.
Accellion offered the trust a free trial, which it conducted with 50 users over a six-month period, before implementing Accellion.
Hayes said it allowed users to share and synchronise documents between the PC, the Accellion cloud environment and the iPad.
“On a personal level it’s like having access to your C drive on the iPad,” he said.
The product allows users to create workspaces which can be shared with other people. Hayes uses the community and social care element of the trust as a use case: care homes have been using the produce for sharing invoices, which are then transferred electronically.
Bring your own device
While the trust claims to be an early adopter with use of iPads it is still struggling to roll out a fully fledged bring your own device (BYOD) scheme. “We’ve not reached that stage yet, there are a couple of people that have purchased their own iPads and asked to use them and we’ve said yes.”
Hayes said issues around remuneration policies are holding back the roll-out.
But the project is helping towards the nationwide goal for the NHS to become paperless by 2018.
While Hayes said Hunt’s vision is challenging, the iPads are one part of an ecosystem that ensures less paper is being used.
“These devices are about viewing data and images,” he said. “It’s easy to access, which means there’s less inclination to print.”
He said the A&E department is replacing current IT systems and is due to become paperless in May 2014.
Apple iPod Touch
South Devon Healthcare NHS Trust deployed the iPod Touch to record patient vital signs at its main acute hospital, Torbay Hospital in Torquay, with hopes to roll out further.
The devices run VitalPAC, an application that monitors vital signs, but instead of a nurse taking blood pressure and temperature then writing it on the patient’s chart, they enter the details into the iPod Touch. The measurements are recorded in a central system which also monitors if the patient starts to deteriorate and prompts clinicians to look at the patient. The system alerts nurses with a reminder if an observation is missed.
Hayes said the iPod Touch was the right size, and there was no need to have iPhones as the hospital didn’t need the telephone functionality. The iPod Touch also provides much longer battery life than the previous monitoring equipment. It is also less intrusive during the night, as the backlight precludes the ward lights switched on while conducting measurements.