Keeping patient care in rude health

We can’t wait for the 2017 Health and Care Innovation Expo in Manchester. After all, with this year’s transition from the legacy N3 Network to the Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) ‘network of networks’, the event couldn’t be more timely.

The only major conference of its kind in England, it’s a meeting of minds for clinicians, innovators, technology experts and more, all of whom are dedicated to shaping the patient care of tomorrow.

Ahead of the Expo, we’re looking back at the successes in the sector that have made us most proud…

When it comes to job satisfaction, it doesn’t get much better than saving lives.

And that’s what we’re doing by collaborating with the Cumbria and Lancashire Telestroke Network to provide a 24-hour stoke thrombolysis service.

Before we explain what that is, let’s look at some findings from our April 2017 report, The Digital Healthcare Agenda: Challenges and Barriers in Healthcare. The survey discovered just under half of organisations fully embrace all opportunities to deliver services digitally.

It’s all the more shocking because of what those that don’t embrace opportunity are missing out on. Consider the achievements of The Cumbria and Lancashire Telestroke Network, which remotely connects a specialist team of 15 stroke consultants, who give clinical advice from their homes. Each consultant is linked by a secure broadband connection to a ‘Telecart’ at the patient’s bedside. This enables a ‘two-way’ virtual consultation, so they can see and speak to patients via teleconferencing equipment, view CT scans and recommend appropriate treatment.

Secure, flexible, reliable

The service requires big bandwidth and high resilience to deliver fast communications and quick treatment. Our high-speed fibre optic network has provided its IP Virtual Private Network (IPVPN) which carries voice, video and data and offers a secure, flexible and reliable connection.

With over 20 years’ experience working with the Public Sector, we know organisations have to watch the bottom line. Thanks to the availability of 24/7 thrombolysis treatment, the Trust is expected to save £2.9 million over five years in treatment costs.

In addition, the service is expected to save social services £3.3 million a year in residential and nursing care costs for stroke patients, making a total saving of almost £3.9 million a year.

Meeting tomorrow's needs

We’re making our presence felt north of the border too.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde needed a network that could handle a variety of medical applications, streamline functions and deliver new and advanced care programmes for the Yorkhill children’s hospital.

The NHS had invested heavily in network infrastructure, but its complexities were making it inefficient, with many applications proving impossible to run. Incidentally, this tallies with the findings of our digital healthcare report, that just 15% of organisations feel ready to support digital innovation.

Our solution was an advanced and scalable network, a new LAN (Local Area Network). Staff can now access the network from patients’ bedsides or desktop terminals. As the hospital grows and changes, the network has been designed to do so too. In keeping with the trend for more collaboration between public sector organisations, Yorkhill now shares patient records with external organisations such as child support groups and schools, all thanks to our technology.

Under one high-speed umbrella

Our report also found that for 42% of organisations, the single most important factor driving the need to make services available online was improving patient service. It was this goal that inspired our work with the North East London Foundation Trust.

The Trust had inherited complicated network infrastructure consisting of a jigsaw of multiple suppliers and numerous systems spread across 32 sites. It was a struggle to keep staff connected, costs under control, and to provide the service patients expected.

Our solution was a Metro Ethernet VPN and ISDN solution that would deliver a high-capacity converged network. This brought everything together in a single voice and data platform, linking every site under one high-speed umbrella.

Faster and cheaper

Are patients benefitting? You bet.

Staff can now access centralised patient records, which makes it much easier to keep treatment details up to date, even across different clinics. The bandwidth boost has had a dramatic effect on the time it takes to perform even the simplest network tasks, speeding up communication.

Not only are all internal calls between clinics and sites now free, but external calls are on more favourable tariffs – which has all helped drive down telephone bills. In addition, and in keeping with the trend for collaboration, there are plans to introduce electronic prescriptions and links to other Trusts.

The future of health and care is an exciting place, and we look forward to exploring it more at the Expo.

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