Making healthcare mobile – how the NHS is moving with the times in mobile device usage

By November 11, 2020NHS, Technology
Doctor holding a mobile phone

Digital Technology has changed the day-to-day routine of many NHS workers and has helped improve healthcare information, yet the devices used to enter and track information can sometimes be more of a hindrance, rather than a help. In hospital settings, for instance, you’ll still see dedicated areas with fixed computer terminals away from the patient bedside, which then impacts on the time clinicians spend with patients and in collaboration with colleagues. In a community setting, many clinicians and nurses are still working from paper notes, diaries, or even if they have a mobile device, they’re often not able to connect effectively. This means they’re still ultimately having to return to a clinical site to upload and update information, wasting valuable time for themselves and for patients. One Swiss study goes as far as to suggest that ‘for every hour that some doctors devote to direct patient care, they may spend about five hours on other tasks, often because they’re tied up with computer work’.

Many NHS organisations are now having to prioritise a ‘mobile first’ approach when it comes to the systems they connect to and use everyday, especially in the current pandemic as more NHS staff need to work from home, or in different clinical settings such as mobile test centres and Nightingale facilities. With the added complexities of using personal devices for clinical connectivity, there needs to be a smarter, safer way to access clinical systems whatever device is being used. In this article, we’ll take a look at the types of mobile device technology the NHS is adopting, and what Trusts can do to make their devices more clinical app ready. 


Not that kind of tablet

The original ‘mobile’ technology in the NHS was a pager – and whilst it was beneficial to be able to alert clinicians more quickly by paging them, they would still need to go to a particular location or contact someone by phone to get the information they needed. These days, many clinicians have access to devices such as mobile phones and tablets, so not only are they notified when they’re needed, they’re able to access information on the go, and at the patient bedside.

By taking advantage of the unique features tablets and smartphones bring, staff can find ways to streamline their day-to-day jobs. One innovative example is that of Oxford NHS, staff within the Speech and Language Therapy department use their mobile devices to improve interactions with patients. Using tablets to record videos of parents interacting with their child during a speech therapy session, as a self-monitoring tool to assess performance in their child’s language development. 

Wider adoption of mobile devices across multiple settings for better sharing of information is also a priority for many Trusts. Nottingham University Hospitals NHS, for example, have distributed 6,500 mobile devices across their staff to manage an accurate, live nurse staffing position across their wards including critical care areas, maternity and the children’s hospital. Which means any member of staff can see how safe the nursing teams consider staffing levels to be and where support is required.


Which tablet is it anyway?

The most widely used operating system within the NHS is Microsoft, due to Microsoft providing its software under a central NHS agreement. But now with so many different devices on the market, many NHS organisations are exploring better ways of working for them, when it comes to hardware and software for their clinicians and NHS staff. But there can still be some challenges around accessing clinical systems that may not be readily supported within NHS organisations.

Kingston and Sutton Councils, for example, have adopted Google Chromebooks as their device of choice as part of their G Suite mobile strategy, finding the Google environment easier to support and manage across their organisation. They faced a challenge with connecting their clinical systems via the G Suite platform – their community nurses needed access to their clinical system Rio on the Chromebooks, and that’s where Isosec’s Virtual Smartcard was able to help. Working together with the Council and Google, Isosec provided a remote desktop environment that enabled users to remotely authenticate with a Virtual Smartcard, and gain access to their clinical applications on the go. Having solutions such as Virtual Smartcard that are system, device and platform agnostic can really help when it comes to adopting a flexible mobile strategy.


Making authentication more mobile 

Whilst there has been great efforts to mobilise the NHS workforce over the past decade, organisations are often left to their own devices – literally. On the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, the demand to use personal laptops, mobile phones and software for remote working dramatically increased. The health tech industry and health organisations have faced a huge learning curve in terms of getting people secure, remote authentication and access to the likes of the NHS Spine and clinical apps quickly and easily. And even then, when devices are provided, often organisations still face the issue of having the right technical environment and device capability to be able to ensure users have access to things like clinical systems or the NHS Spine quickly and easily.

Marc Poulaud, CTO of Isosec, commented “Whilst the use of mobile devices within the NHS has risen dramatically this past year, it’s nothing new to Isosec – we’ve been providing NHS staff and Community workers in the NHS access to their clinical systems remotely for over a decade, and understand the complexities of devices, environment and effective use across the NHS ecosystem. 

Our cloud-based, any device approach means that we’ve been helping NHS organisations for many years to get access to information, on the go, with mobile devices that they choose to implement. We were able to quickly adapt and help organisations during the pandemic who also faced the personal device challenge, as our authentication solutions such as Virtual Smartcard and our Mobile Platform, our mobile app, are all easy to implement and use from anywhere.”


Get more mobile – Isosec Mobile platform

Isosec’s Mobile Platform has all the key requirements for easy mobile working for NHS staff. 

Take a look at how Oxleas have used Isosec Mobile Platform for their community workers, enabling them to provide more face to face patient care and saving significant time when it comes to entering and accessing clinical information at point of care. Speaking on her experience with Isosec, Sue Horbury, Programme Manager for Telehealth and Remote Working at Oxleas said “It’s my job to look at how we can use technology to improve patient experience and make us more efficient. We have chosen Isosec to help us do that. The support that we’ve had has been amazing and it really feels like we’ve worked in partnership with Isosec, rather than trying to find out things on our own”.

Oxleas continue to be one of Isosec’s valued customers, and we’re still receiving some great feedback from them for their Mobile Platform solution:

Oxleas Feedback "Great for being able to access RIO whilst on the move not working from base"

Our Mobile Platform is everything you need to introduce mobile authentication technology into your workflow, so get in touch today to empower your healthcare staff on the move. Click here to learn more.

Harry Robinson

Author Harry Robinson

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