Virgin Care rolls out tablets to free nurses from admin burden

Virgin Care, the private provider of healthcare services to the NHS, is currently rolling out tablets for its community nurses to cut paper records and improve data quality.


Virgin Care, the private provider of healthcare services to the NHS, is currently rolling out tablets for its community nurses to cut paper records and improve data quality.

This has allowed nurses to spend “33 percent more time with patients” in their homes, Virgin Care’s head of informatics and business intelligence Chris Dunigan said at a Tableau conference in London this week.

He said: “A nurse picks up an iPad in the morning in her home, syncs all the work that needs to be done that day, eliminating the need for them to come into the office with historic notes to compare cases.”

Appointments are electronically updated and nurses are co-ordinated centrally by a senior district nurse. By updating notes in a patient’s home, accuracy is increased and has had a positive effect on legal and workload issues, Dunigan added.

“If the notes are of a high quality, that’s going to ensure that the next person who comes along gets the notes as soon as possible and there is no quibbling over who did what.”

As workloads can be more closely monitored, previously overworked nurses can ensure they will have their required lunch break by managing their time more efficiently, boosting morale.

The initiative has helped the company decrease paper records while increasing the quality of the patient information, cutting the time normally taken to duplicate data across filing systems.

The nurses work in Virgin’s patient network across the eight business units in the UK, including areas of poor connectivity, so the tablets come with an offline mechanism which can by synced when staff return to a hotspot that links up to the business unit’s data warehouse.

The project not only improves quality of care, Dunigan said, but with an up-to-date online record Virgin Care can crunch the data to make decisions about services.


Virgin Care’s business intelligence team began using visual software Tableau to spot trends and present them to executives in October last year.

Following this, the business has already outlined areas to improve customer satisfaction.

One example Dunigan and Waseem Ali, group performance and information manager, used was the data gathered from Virgin Care’s in-house customer satisfaction website. Results showed that customers made more complaints during August and December.

Mapping those figures against qualitative data on Tableau, the team were able to present links between dropped satisfaction scores and doctor’s holidays to the board.

Although the company could not remove locum doctors, the executives decided to invest in regular locums so that patients had a familiar face if a doctor did have to take time off.

Further, data has played a huge role in improving missed appointment rates.

Dunigan said: “It’s an example of using the data to really dive into what the problem is. The solution was simple, it’s not rocket science.

Now Virgin Care texts patients reminders of their appointment, a worthwhile investment to avoid wasted time and allow standby patients to get in to see a GP.

“It’s made a significant difference, because when you text a patient they are more likely to ring up and cancel if they can’t make it, which means we can free up more appointments,” Dunigan said.

Virgin Care was formerly Assura Medical, part of the Assura group, before it was bought by Virgin in 2010.

Moneycorp is also using Tableau to target customers for its loyalty card scheme.

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