Blackpool NHS trust deploys tablets for improved community care

A Blackpool NHS Trust is equipping 400 clinicians with Samsung Galaxy mobile tablet devices to enable them to efficiently care for patients in the community.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has signed a deal with Vodafone UK to support its community services staff, who will be able to securely access patient records, corporate email and information at the point of care, including in patients' homes.

The rollout comes after a successful pilot indicated staff could save up to an hour a day in reduced travel and administration using the devices, and highlighted how patient care could also be improved, said the Trust, which provides health services to more than 150,000 patients across Blackpool.

Following the rollout of the 400 devices, the trust plans to expand the deployment to the rest of its 900 community-based clinicians across Blackpool and North Lancashire.

Community staff currently take paper case notes and documents to and from appointments and return to the office to collect, drop off and complete paperwork, taking up valuable time that could be spent with patients instead.

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It is hoped that online web resources and clinical knowledge summaries when making decisions at the point of care will help to prevent some admissions into hospital.

Vodafone is providing a secure and reliable mobile connection as well as the Samsung Galaxy tablets. The Trust had previously trialled BlackBerry Torch smartphones but staff had found that the screens were too small for accessing information.

Paul Morris, assistant head of informatics and performance at the Trust, said: “We have put in place layers of security and encryption on the devices and set up a dedicated private network. The key is to ensure the security measures protect the device and data without making it difficult for clinicians to use."

Much of the day-to-day management of the service is handled by Vodafone, which has provided its Vodafone Secure Device Manager (VSDM) system for on-device security software and easier device deployment and management.

The value of the contract the Trust has with Vodafone has not been revealed. Last month the government said it could save £1.2 billion over five years through the wider use of telecare technology.