Cardiff and Vale University Health Board will equip 1,000 of its community workers with laptops by next spring, completing one of the biggest mobile projects in the NHS, according to programme manager Mark Cahalane.
The project means community nurses, midwives and mental health workers can access core systems like the ‘PARIS’ electronic patient record, intranet, emails, test results and equipment ordering, out in the field.
The board has already handed out 700 Lenovo ThinkPad x240 laptops but expects to reach 1,000 by next spring, Cahalane told ComputerworldUK.
The project achieved a return on investment within nine months and has led to 16 percent more visits per day, equivalent to roughly one extra visit per nurse per day, he said.
The service previously had Samsung netbooks but clinical staff decided to switch them for Lenovo laptops. They were given a range of phones, tablets and laptops to choose from.
“They [the Lenovo laptops] are a little bit better in numerous ways. It’s a 12 inch screen, battery life that will cover the entire eight-hour shift, not too heavy and very securable,” Cahalane said.
The staff opted for laptops instead of tablets because they found it easier to write up clinical notes using a keyboard rather than a touch screen, he added.
The board did not consider iPads despite their popularity in some other trusts.
“One very real consideration was theft. If every district nurse in Cardiff and Vale was known to carry an expensive £400 device in their bag, they would feel scared to go in some areas,” Cahalane explained.
The hardware is provided by Stone Group. O2 was chosen as the mobile provider, thanks to its 4G coverage in the region, he said.
The trust oversees a population of 445,000, has about 15,000 staff and a budget of £1.4 billion, making it one of the largest health bodies in the UK.
Over 20 different NHS and local government bodies have visited Cardiff and Vale to learn from the project, he said.
Although there are “hard”, measurable benefits to the project, a significant aditional value from teh mobile project has been that it has made staff feel safer, according to Cahalane.
“Now they are aware of what they’re going into on a visit, right up to the minute they go through the door, whereas they might not have known before.
“I had a mental health practitioner say it was the first time in over 20 years she’s felt safe at work. That is an enormous thing for IT to be able to deliver,” he said.