How a WiFi service can provide the spark to help the frontline

Ian Bolland sat down with Dean Moody and Steve Killick from WiFi Spark at HETT who explained how providing WiFi and its other software services can help the NHS frontline staff.

The company has been operating since 2003 and says it provides services to 75% of NHS Trusts in the UK and is now trying to provide patient services to the health service. While this might be a case of trying to keep them entertained with various services, they can have a practical use as well by allowing frontline staff to spend more time treating their patients.

One aspect is allowing patients to order their own food as product manager Steven Killick explains following WiFi Spark’s work with DataSym. As well as bringing about efficiencies such as cutting down on food waste, the platforms allows doctors and nurses to keep track of a patient’s nutrition.

“There’s a big problem with food waste in hospitals when meals don’t get eaten. This may be because someone is no longer hungry, they get put on nil-by-mouth, or they move beds and don’t like the food they’ve been given; or you get discharged and your food still comes the next day.

“The DataSym platform can show the amount a patient has eaten. When the staff are collecting it, they can mark out how much of the food they’ve eaten, and the nutritional value they’ve taken on.

“From a patient point of view, the nutritionists can get involved and remove certain items for you. You almost won’t even know you’re getting a menu for you either, there’s no feeling you’re missing out on anything.”

The company explains it can also have a role when it comes to allowing the NHS edge towards the paperless target set by health secretary Matt Hancock – by allowing food orders to be done electronically rather than someone having to take the time to hand out paper menus and then collect them afterwards, as well as giving patients flexibility with their order by imposing a three-hour cut-off point.

Aside from food ordering, there is the important aspect of educating patients about their health during their stay at the hospital.

Killick said: “If someone doesn’t have one of their own devices, they can have one of these media tables which goes across their bed and has a TV screen there.

“That also has an RFID reader in the back. If a clinician or healthcare professional comes up, they can scan that device, and then it will launch their clinical applications. At the bedside they can show patients their x-rays, select requirements and there can also be a phone on the unit so a nurse doesn’t have to walk back to the station. Also, any notes that need doing can be done there in real-time.

“On our media tables we have healthcare professionals who could suggest that you watch this video because you’re about to have a knee operation. Or if we’re linked to the clinical platform they can see your patient admission information where they will know you’re in for a knee operation so it’ll show you all the videos pertaining to knee operations.”

Chief commercial officer Dean Moody explained that given there are so many areas that feed into the frontline, this is where the company can help.

This includes ensuring the right member of staff in the hospital can help the patient with their request – citing the infamous push of the bed button. He also describes his platform as an ‘eco-system’ for other services with what they provide.

“What happens is everyone presses that button – whether they want a glass of water of if they think they’re going to die. How does the nurse react? They have to come at the same speed to everybody.

“It’s not all ours. We’re just the glue in the middle of it creating this eco-system for digital services and that is what NHSX is trying to do – get these digital services out to everybody.”

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