A progress report published by the UK’s Department of Health into its Mobile Health Worker Project says the use of mobile devices can save more than £3,000 per clinician each year. The government department has been working since last summer with vendor Panasonic and BT Healthcare to test the benefits of mobile working in community-based health services. NHS clinicians across 11 trial sites participated in the survey.
The majority of sites in the test showed a growth in productivity after the introduction of mobile working, and more time was spent with patients, says the report. Clinicians’ journeys and journey times also increased although at a lower rate than their activity which, says the report, indicates improved efficiency. The clinicians across the 11 sites also estimated that mobile working enabled them to save a total of 507 referrals and 49 admissions, both of which deliver cost savings and form the basis for calculating its £3,000 figure.
The use of mobile devices has “long been touted as a cost-saving, productivity-enhancing solution for clinicians” says the report, particularly for those clinicians who make daily visits to patients at home or in clinics as well as other locations such as schools and nursing homes. However, “very little in the way of quantifiable evidence” had previously been recorded making it difficult to argue in favour of mobile working, says the report.
Finally, there are other factors that have to be weighed up with mobile working. The report says they include “frustrations with connectivity and session persistence are the major barriers to smooth adoption of mobile devices”. Projects must experiment with different network providers to find the best coverage for users, it says. The report also notes that clinicians in the NHS are “not resistant to change or innovation….provided that they are supported and engaged in the project as a whole”.