Cisco UK & Ireland Blog

Doing more with less – addressing a perennial challenge for the NHS

September 25, 2017

‘Doing more with less’ – it’s a phrase we hear so often in relation to the NHS that it has become a cliché. Yet like most clichés, it is grounded in reality, and no longer merely a current requirement but a permanent state of being.

There are many reasons for this. We’re all living longer for a start, with more of us managing chronic conditions. Meanwhile, the targets set out in the various home country plans, including Together for Health in Wales, have become even more demanding and ambitious. Add to that recruitment issues as staff retire, leave the country or move into the private sector, plus the ever present risk of security breaches like WannaCry, and the outlook can seem bleak to say the least.

Fortunately, NHS health boards and trusts are operated by resourceful, dedicated teams.  We need look no further than any episode of 24 hours in A&E or Hospital to witness this commitment to improving patient care and outcomes.

Effective use of technology can be part of the solution. Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board for example is just one example. Serving a population of around 500,000 with a budget of £1.3 billion and 16,000 staff, it houses four acute hospitals, several community hospitals, health centres, clinics and 77 GP surgeries, it also runs a GP out-of-hours service and is service provider for burns and plastic surgery across Wales and South West England. If that wasn’t enough, it also delivers forensic mental health services and learning disability services across South Wales.

To support and improve delivery of its services ABMU has installed Cisco® Digital Network Architecture (DNA) across its acute hospitals, primary care, air ambulance community, mental health and home care services.

Small changes, major impact

Comparatively small changes can result in significant gains, and one important benefit for clinicians and patients is the ability to access and update patient’s records from any location, rather than filling out forms and writing notes by hand.

Not only does this save time and make information accessible to appropriate parties, but it also helps prevent important information being mislaid or forgotten. An effective Wi-Fi network also gives staff on the move instant contact with colleagues, using wireless phones and Cisco Jabber® for secure messaging. Meanwhile, patients and their loved ones benefit from visitor Wi-Fi, meaning they can keep in touch without risk of compromise to clinical systems, medical devices or data.

The bigger picture
Cisco DNA has enabled ABMU’s IT team to simplify and automate its services and processes and control network usage, as well as improving and extending security measures, which now includes access to medication cabinets and automated pharmacy inventory tracking.

Up and away

The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) Cymru and the Wales Air Ambulance Charity helicopters is a national service hosted by ABMU. As its critical care teams travel across Wales to treat seriously ill or injured patients, improved wireless coverage and connections allow them to maintain contact with staff on the ground more easily and receive updates on weather, travel conditions and what to expect at the scene.

Back down to earth

It’s impossible to completely resolve the many challenges that the NHS continues to face, but implementing technology that supports vital systems and processes can help staff deliver more efficient patient care – and perhaps even lead to improved patient outcomes.

I’ve only scratched the surface of what ABMU achieved so far on its  Destination: Digital journey. Find out more in the case study.  And to start planning your own digital health and care journey, why not contact us.

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