It’s a rare occurrence that a day goes by without reports emanating about the challenges being faced by the NHS. Whether it’s budgetary cuts, staff retention crises, facility closures or just the sheer weight of demand from a population fortunate to be living longer, there is a sense of a cherished institution in need of a little TLC itself.
Away from the headlines, and the associated political discussions, there is the day to day reality of providing health care to millions of people. Real people with urgent, painful conditions and fretful families. As much as workers at the frontline of healthcare provision can become partly inured to the traumas they are exposed to, to do their jobs it is vital that they maintain their compassion, empathy and humanity. They are the ones dealing with people in crisis and their primary role is to help make the patient feel better and get better.
Given that overwhelming challenge and the literal life and death consequences of their actions, healthcare workers can become incredibly frustrated when the appropriate tools are not in place to help them do their jobs to the best of their ability and often to look to find their own solution. One of the most important aspects of the successful provision of healthcare is fast, unobstructed communications between the numerous individuals responsible for delivering the multitudinous aspects of the patients’ care. This can be complicated by caseload as well as colleagues spread over multiple sites. However, it’s a telling indicator of the current state of communications apparatus within the NHS that no other organisation purchased more fax machines last year.
Faced with such hurdles, healthcare workers do what most people would do – they develop their own processes to work around the challenge. They know that lives are jeopardised by not being able to communicate as quickly and easily as they could. So, they consider their own experiences and, they start introducing rogue apps like WhatsApp and Snapchat into the workplace. Information starts flowing, files are shared, patients receive a better level of care. Sounds great. On the face of it is, but it threatens to undermine some of the key tenets of the patient/doctor relationship, most notably confidentiality and trust. This week an article in The Times informed us that the NHS had disciplined 1200 staff members due to misuse of social media sites and chat apps, and as a result 65 NHS staff have lost their jobs, highlighting that unauthorised communication tools in the workplace can play a large part in damaging an organisations brand, not to mention putting patient data and safety at risk.
Using apps like those above instantly takes critically sensitive patient data and moves it into the enterprise domain. If you are discussing what time to meet in the pub with a group of friends it matters not a jot that the content of the conversation is being bounced around servers in the geographies of the platform’s choice. Everyone in the conversation has given their consent for their information to be shared in this way. However, when the conversation includes patient data, the subject has not provided consent which represents a massive breach of trust. Worst case scenario, a phone is stolen and the app accessed. In one scenario, the thief now knows your preferred watering holes. In the other scenario, the thief now knows the personal details and HIV status of the patient that was being discussed. It doesn’t even need to be a thief, a curious fellow passenger on the commute home has their eye drawn to the flashed-up message on a phone. It’s all too easy and the consequences for patient and practitioner are potentially immense. It is not just a breach of trust it’s a breach of the law even before the implementation of the tighter GDPR regulations. Both individuals and organisations can, and will, be held to account. The potential financial and reputational impact of the associated lawsuits should be enough to keep any administrator awake at night.
StaffConnect, the world’s leading mobile internal communications platform, is the perfect antidote to this ailment. It delivers the functionality of apps like WhatsApp but does so in a highly secure, confidential environment. It enables the flow of vital, critical information that is central to the provision of world-class healthcare, but it does so in a way that ameliorates the problems around trust, consent and confidentiality.
The StaffConnect platform also delivers against an organisation’s employee engagement objective.
By ensuring that all staff receive the messaging and company communications they should, employees become more motivated and are better disposed to provide ever improving levels of patient care. They also become advocates of the organisation which leads to enhanced retention rates and an uplift in external reputation. This, in turn, positively impacts on the ability to attract top talent. Employee engagement is particularly crucial for the significant proportion of healthcare workers who are not desk-based. The StaffConnect app ensures they receive the same information, access to resources and ability to feedback as their desk-based colleagues. It provides them with a voice within the organisation, whilst ensuring that they are updated on key initiatives and the progress towards achieving them. Everyone understands what the organisation is striving for and the importance of their role. Best practice is identified, championed and celebrated.
All sounds great in theory but it’s already working in practise as well. Community Health Partnerships (CHP) selected StaffConnect’s mobile app platform to build a strong level of engagement with their network of employees.
It was vital for CHP to be able to communicate with employees in real-time, and across multiple locations. CHP’s priority was to ensure employees were updated on important events and news, whilst also enabling them to have a voice by sharing content, thoughts and views amongst their peers and company.
StaffConnect delivered a sophisticated mobile platform which supported their business goals. Our communications professionals then worked closely with CHP, providing domain expertise to help them define best practice and implement a winning communication strategy.
Working closely with Helena Reeves at CHP, StaffConnect provided guidance and expertise to jointly deliver a content strategy which has already generated very positive results in the levels of user engagement demonstrated to date.
There are few sectors more critical than Healthcare. Every day those involved in it utilise their training and knowledge to undertake actions that, quite literally, are lifesaving. Once they have seen what the StaffConnect platform can deliver, and how it can improve the holistic treatment and welfare of their patients, most healthcare professionals would choose it in a heartbeat.