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Increasing NHS efficiency, productivity and compliance

The NHS is under unprecedented financial pressures. The combination of an ageing population and rising costs mean that budgets are strained, with many Trusts overspending, leading to a record deficits in recent years.

As part of measures to increase efficiency, the NHS is introducing Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). These bring together healthcare organisations in specific areas to work together to support the delivery of improved health and care based on the needs of local populations. The first STPs have already been submitted for approval, with a view to them going live in Autumn 2016.

Given that staff time is a major part of the cost of every back office process, increasing productivity is central to meeting the targets being set as part of STPs. Here are three areas where technology can deliver greater efficiency:

1. Automated monitoring

Monitoring factors like humidity or temperature is essential to the safeguarding of valuable items and resources, such as patient samples and hospital blood stocks. However, it takes staff many hours to manually record and log readings– time that could be better spent on more important tasks. This method also provides no information about what changes might be occurring between checks being undertaken. By automating monitoring, readings are automatically recorded on a continuous basis, with data sent to the cloud every minute where it is accessible to managers, wherever they are. A UK pathology lab, for example, has saved thousands of hours of staff time since adopting Checkit Automated Monitoring at its three laboratories, and now has a far more comprehensive picture of its cold-chain.

2. Real-time control

Increased efficiency cannot come at the expense of quality. Consolidation of services may mean that certain areas or laboratories are at times unmanned, but automated monitoring ensures that managers still have total control. For example, if temperatures move beyond set parameters, immediate alerts are triggered and sent to managers and other staff, enabling them to take fast action and helping ensure the highest standards are met. As monitoring is continuous, managers can see exact, real-time readings and can therefore spot trends and take pre-emptive action to investigate rises or falls in temperature before parameters are breached.

3. Compliance with best practice processes

Standardising processes is a key way of increasing efficiency. Indeed, Lord Carter’s review found that hospitals could save £5 billion per year if they all followed best practice when it came to operational procedures and ways of working. Ensuring staff understand exactly how they should be carrying out their roles can be particularly difficult if they are spread between different sites. Digital work management technology, which uses interactive handheld devices to guide employees through specific processes, helps to drive consistency and best practice. This technology also provides a time-stamped, digital record of activities, stored in the cloud and easily accessible to managers. This reinforces real-time control and ensures that any compliance issues are immediately flagged.

As the NHS looks to increase efficiency and productivity, technology is central to achieving its aims. The combination of automated monitoring and digital work management gives greater control, improves staff effectiveness and ensures compliance with best practice across every back office area.

Checkit is transforming the way healthcare providers manage tasks, processes and compliance through its automated monitoring systems and task management software.

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