Mobile e-mail cure lifts productivity

Surrey and Sussex health authority has adopted a mobile e-mail system that can be used on almost any mobile device, and which is...

Surrey and Sussex health authority has adopted a mobile e-mail system that can be used on almost any mobile device, and which is increasing individual employee productivity by up to two hours a week.

A trial of the OpenHand software started in February 2004 between two healthcare trusts and the health authority. Different levels of mobile staff needed different information, managed in different ways and on different devices.

An OpenHand server was deployed and connected to the health authority's mail server, and software installed on the relevant mobile devices. Because neither server needed new software, installation was relatively quick.

Users can access personal data and e-mail from a variety of devices, but information remains stored on the server. 

Because the NHS network allows only outbound connections, OpenHand had to modify its standard product. It developed a "GenderSwitcher" to provide the necessary outbound connection between the health authority's Microsoft Exchange server and the OpenHand server.

OpenHand also offered two types of architecture. The first allowed for one mail server, controlled by the trust, to be mobilised. The second enabled multiple health trusts in the health authority to be mobilised and managed by one central unit.

Bruce Wright of Eastbourne Downs primary care trust, who manages IT procurement for the health authority, said the OpenHand system had proved cost-effective. An analysis of monthly bills showed that even the most prolific users had only spent an average of £3.50 a month on data transfer. 

During the trial the health authority also estimated a productivity gain of two hours per person per week.

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