Community services have long been hailed as the knight in shining armour that can transform NHS care. In line with widespread Public Health initiatives aimed at shifting emphasis away from emergency care and towards disease prevention, community services can play a significant part in transforming patient/NHS engagement to alleviate the burden on critical NHS resources.
In the age of the smartphone, technology is providing a powerful stimulus to enhance communication across the health and social care system. Increasingly, the NHS workforce is being empowered by innovative mobile technologies that are enabling Health Care Professionals (HCPs) to become more responsive, informed and agile in community settings.
The effective use of mobile tools is helping Trusts to collect more information across a multitude of locations, unlock Best Practice Tariff funding, reduce administrative overheads, improve productivity and increase time spent with patients.
Over the last few years, some elements of care for diabetes patients have started to move from traditional hospital based specialist units out to the community. Patients are increasingly being seen at home by community Diabetes Specialist Nurses (DSNs) and GPs with a Special Interest (GPwSIs).
Appropriate care in the community offers a significant improvement in the patient experience, and reduces appointments and admissions in the specialist units. It does though, raise a challenge in how HCPs access and update patient records when away from the hospital network.
At present, one approach is for nurses and doctors to manually make paper-based notes on the information they are collating during visits, which is subsequently typed into the diabetes management system when they next have a secure connection. This process not only duplicates effort but also opens up the risk of transcription errors. Moreover, patient records need to be printed and then referred to whilst the HCP is with the patient, which is neither secure nor in line with the drive by the NHS to become paperless.
Alternatively, HCPs may use a combination of a laptop connected to the mobile data network often using potentially fiddly PIN generating devices, which leave the user subject to the vagaries of mobile phone reception and can be frustratingly slow or unreliable.
In response to this situation and based on 20+ years of working with diabetes professionals, Hicom is soon to release its new Community Module. This new innovation will enable DSNs and GPwSis to truly take care out into the community, while still being able to utilise the information stored in Diamond and Twinkle, Hicom’s adult and paediatric diabetes software solutions, and without breaking the security needed when taking data out of the hospital network.
The technology to bolster community services that straddle both health and secondary care is now well-established. A proliferation of digital and mobile media has enabled multi-channel communication across multiple devices and platforms – allowing the mobile workforce instant and reliable access to vital information to support clinical decisions. Hicom strives to remain at the forefront of this innovation by modernising the approach to community-based services for diabetes patients and supporting the NHS in providing more efficient, effective and joined-up services.
Technology is playing a valuable role in providing liaison, support and indeed care outside of hospitals and specialist units. No longer will HCPs need to make manual notes when they are with patients and then spend additional time typing these up, as of the all data they collect will be automatically synchronised back into Diamond or Twinkle when a suitable and secure connection is available.
Strong community services are a vital component of an effective model of integrated health and social care and Hicom will be launching its Community Module at this year's Diabetes Professional Care on the 16th and 17th November at Olympia in London.
If you are a diabetes care professional and would like to know more about the module and about working with a diabetes solution provider, we will be at stand G12.