Mobile device apps help Northwest hospitals meet quality and innovation targets

19 February 2013

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) in Northwest England is using mobile devices to collect the data for the Department of Health’s Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUIN) payment framework.

The Trust is among the first to use mobile working for this purpose and plans to complete the project using technology developed by specialist software provider NDL, which currently works with around 70 NHS Trusts. 

CQUIN, introduced in 2009, makes a proportion of healthcare providers’ income conditional on demonstrating improvements in quality and innovation in areas of care specified by local commissioning groups. WWL’s project manager, Jamie King, explained: “Like all Trusts we are required to collect data across a huge range of services in order to prove that we are meeting national targets thereby unlocking additional income.

“Naturally we are keen to maximise both income and efficiency, but the process of collecting data for CQUIN can be time consuming and impact on the amount of time healthcare professionals spend actually caring for patients. We were keen to see if mobile working could help us improve this situation while also ensuring the Trust is recognised as meeting targets and therefore receives maximum income.”

Mobile working allows clinicians to access and update central databases via smartphones or tablets, regardless of location. The simple to use tools NDL has developed supports this process by empowering in-house IT teams, with relatively little technical experience, to build and distribute bespoke apps to smartphones and tablets. The system is platform agnostic, allowing the same app to be distributed on Android, BlackBerry, Windows and Apple, operating systems.

WWL’s apps will be among the first built using NDL’s technology to be distributed on Apple devices, after NDL announced support of Apple devices at its User Group in late 2012. The project will eventually consist of around 30 apps to cover a range of CQUIN requirements, with the first three currently in advanced stages of development.

The first of these three apps will enable clinicians to record when they have asked patients questions relating to smoking cessation, while the second records patient risk assessments for venous thromboembolism, a condition that causes thousands of avoidable deaths a year. The third app is aimed at mobilising the CQUIN Patient Safety Thermometer which measures a range of common afflictions patients may experience while in care, such as pressure ulcers, falls, and urinary tract infections in patients with catheters.

Jamie continued: “Prior to mobile working this data was typically collected via a paper based system before being transcribed on to central systems, which was both time consuming and left databases vulnerable to errors, as well as potentially being unsecure.  Mobile working will cut out these problems.”

Apps operate on smartphones or tablets enabling clinicians to collect data regardless of 3G or 4G signal availability or quality, with data automatically synchronized the next time signal is available. Patient data is heavily encrypted and will not be permanently stored on the devices so that confidentiality is protected and other security concerns were successfully overcome using Airwave technology.

Jamie continued: “The next stage of this project is to test run our first three apps, but initial feedback from clinical staff has been incredibly positive, with people quick to recognise the advantages mobile working can bring. Testing should be completed by 11th March with a full roll out expected before the start of the new financial year.

“From an IT team’s perspective, the fact NDL’s technology is device agnostic is incredibly useful as it’s meant we’ve been able to get on and develop apps while we assess which device and operating system best fits clinicians’ needs and budgets.”

NDL’s managing director, Declan Grogan, commented:  “Naturally we are delighted that WWL has chosen to use our software to develop such an innovative mobile working project. It’s an interesting example of how mobile working can be used to ease the administrative burden on clinical staff, where ever they are working, while also maximising income.”


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