Q&A: How mobile technology is succeeding pagers in care homes

Following the announcement from health secretary Matt Hancock that pagers are to be banned from the NHS by 2021, Ian Bolland caught up with Jonathan Papworth, co-founder and director of Person Centred Software, which provides mobile communication solutions in a care home environment. They discuss the challenges when using technology in hospital and care home environments and whether its technology is applicable to both environments.

IB: What are the similarities, and differences, in terms of challenges faced when it comes to use of technology in the care home compared to the hospital?

JP: Many challenges are the same between care homes and hospitals. But care homes have a significant funding disadvantage; care homes have less money to buy technology. The NHS has better buying power than care homes, but the NHS has also got bureaucracy to overcome. So, care homes can be more agile and many of the best care home providers implement new technology much faster than the NHS.

Both care homes and hospitals have very similar needs; to access up-to-date patient or resident information quickly and easily in a secure way. The technology that care homes and hospitals use has to be appropriate for the people using it. There’s no point having the information available in a place it can’t be found, so the technology has to have an intuitive interface for the people that use it.

IB: What changes have you seen since care homes have started to adopt a more digital approach?

JP: The perception that technology could be useful has been transformed for a significant percentage of the industry. I remember 20 years ago that people didn’t believe me when I held up a mobile phone and said that people would be using them to evidence care. The perception now is that it will work.

Another significant change is that there’s a lot of technology companies that are trying to provide frontline care systems whereas 20 years ago there were very few, and they weren’t very appropriate for the end users.

There has been a massive uptake in mobile devices and now some care providers are trying to have single devices to manage multiple applications, which would never have happened in the past.

IB: How does Mobile Care Monitoring help patient care itself?

JP: Mobile Care Monitoring enables more care staff to spend time with residents in more meaningful activities and have more time to spend to care for them. It also enables the care providers to measure the effectiveness of care, use analysis to reduce risks and increase quality of care. This means care homes can consistently provide the quality of care to their residents that they want to achieve.

IB: Does this have all the advantages that a pager would have? What does this have that the pager does not?

JP: A pager has a single line LED display that scrolls across the screen and is a basic messaging system. A smartphone contains a vast deal more information, is easier to use, can perform multiple tasks at the same time, and, even better, most people are already familiar with them.

IB: Would this kind of technology work in a hospital setting as well as in a social care setting?

JP: Yes, it absolutely would. The user interface would need to be designed differently to display the information intuitively to healthcare professionals. But the principle behind the technology – giving people information at their fingertips when they need it – can be used to benefit any business, not just in care homes and hospitals.

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