‘Follow-me’ technology gives clinicians more time for patients

Even in digitally advanced hospitals, clinicians regularly complain about tardy access to patient data – which is hardly surprising since most of it is scattered around the trust in remote silos and departmental systems. Paul Curran reports on one trust that has solved this challenge - and restored its employees’ faith in ICT.

Complex data infrastructure in many NHS trusts means that clinicians typically lose hundreds of hours each year logging into and out of a mishmash of computer systems. As well as testing their patience, more crucially, it limits their ability to deliver timely clinical care. Things can become even more frustrating as they move from one device to another around the hospital.

Such was the case at Luton and Dunstable NHS Foundation Trust Hospital, according to IM&T director, Mark England. “A ‘best of breed’ approach to our electronic patient record means we have to join up multiple systems, each with different functionality. We found that clinicians’ biggest frustration was having to enter a password and select the patient for every system.”

The Trust’s recent deployment of ground-breaking clinical desktop technology called acceSSOnce from Microsoft partner OCSL has instantly removed these issues and enabled clinicians to better exploit the systems at their disposal to the benefit of patients.

‘As if by magic…’

Running on the Windows 8 OS platform and incorporating very latest Microsoft virtualisation, system management and security tools, acceSSOnce works seamlessly across desktop PCs, laptops and tablet devices. It creates a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) that allows sessions to continue uninterrupted as clinicians move from office to patient bedside to outpatient clinic and beyond.

“With rapid access to their devices using single sign-on (SSO) and clinical context, clinicians need only search for patients once and all their associated applications come along with them - without having to remember user names or passwords,” says OCSL healthcare consultant, John Nicholas.

“Better still, when they search for a patient, all the applications they’ve launched also search for data on that patient. Whenever they then move to a different machine in another location, they simply re-insert their smartcard and their session - in exactly the same state - automatically moves to that device.”

What would you do with 45 extra minutes each day?

The Trust says acceSSOnce has reduced the time to launch applications by 90% and saved clinicians up to 45 minutes a day on average through faster access to data. Employees in a wealth of disciplines are seeing many benefits: 

  • “Clinics were often delayed because clinicians couldn’t get applications to launch or correspondence took ages to load,” says IT service desk manager, Sarah Kennedy. “Session persistence now gives them more time to spend with a greater number of patients. The solution has also reduced 400 or so monthly password reset requests by around 90%,” she adds.
  • “When we’re away from our desktop PCs, we can continue to manage patients while we await results on portable devices,” says paediatric consultant Dr. Vana Gandhi. “It’s made me much more efficient as I move around the hospital and I now get a lot more done on the go.”
  • “We previously used generic logins, which was appalling because you couldn’t track who was doing what,” says consultant gastroenterologist, Dr. Nicola Simmonds. “So, as well as simplifying data access and saving clinicians up to five minutes each time they log in, acceSSOnce has greatly improved governance and security. It will also help allay many of the problems clinicians see in IT solutions because, for once, it genuinely saves them time,” she adds. 

BYOD and mobile support

Mark England says another major benefit for the hospital is that, being mobile device-neutral, acceSSOnce is now supporting the Trust’s Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and mobile strategies, enabling it to arm clinicians with tablet PCs and provide the interface to clinical teams via Windows 8.

“We were initially concerned about potential application compatibility issues in deploying the new operating system so early on,” he says. “However, I’m pleased to say the solution has delivered above our expectations.”

Mark Smith, Director of Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group, says: “OCSL’s solution fulfils one of the most important requirements for any clinician – namely rapid access to patient information at the point of care, in a secure environment, and across the wide range of clinical systems and devices so prevalent today."

21st Century solution

Director of OCSL, Jane Ayres, says acceSSOnce is already having a significant impact on the lives of clinicians: “Forty-five minutes saved each a day could translate to three additional patient visits. Over the course of a year, that means one clinician could potentially treat around 800 more patients. Multiply that across a hospital’s entire clinical staff and that number grows exponentially again.”

England agrees, adding: "The more information we can provide to the clinician at the point of care, the better the outcomes for the patient. With acceSSOnce, we have a solution fit for 21st Century healthcare in terms of ease of deployment and ease of use."

By Paul Curran, on behalf of the Microsoft Health Team

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