Fully charged for a long day’s work

Hospitals are a fast paced, people centred workplace that requires up-to-date information instantly. With the use of mobile technology facilitating this demand, Health Business looks at the charging and storage capacities that hospitals must contend with.

Portable devices are becoming more and more important in hospitals, and with the push towards a paperless NHS gathering force, nurses and doctors are becoming increasingly reliant upon them. The Integrated Digital Care Technology Fund states that ‘digital systems have the potential to benefit patients and clinicians by enabling safer, more joined up care through the sharing of comprehensive clinical information’.

Access to accurate, timely and comprehensive information can transform the quality and efficiency of healthcare through improved clinical workflows, increased care optimisation and greater patient involvement - increasingly the hallmark of a modern, high quality healthcare system. In order to maintain this push for digital records, hospitals must ensure that devices are always on and connected.

However, with the current pressures on NHS staff, whether it be from excessive patient numbers, long waiting times, delayed discharges or not enough staff, it can be too easy to forget to charge a device during or at the end of a shift. A possible solution to this issue evolves around the possibility of installing USB-powered storage on site.

With most devices being USB-powered, such an installation would be productive, effective and useful for staff and patients. Furthermore, hospitals can maximise efficiency and reduce the likelihood of damage by considering the use of USB ports integrated into a standard twin switch socket. This eliminates the need for PAT testing of adapters, minimises the number of charging blocks being bought into the hospital, and reduce the possibility of damages.

From a user perspective, a fixed installation USB charger requires a single charging cable which can be used for multiple devices, rather than separate, bulky adaptors for each device. From an installation perspective, twin switch socket USB ports allow buildings to make use of existing wiring behind existing power points. A number of companies already manufacturing such sockets claim that the USB integrated technology also accounts for efficiency, with charging time being optimised by accounting for the characteristics of the cable being used, and new technology monitoring the specific charging requirements of each device, thus allowing the socket to power each device accordingly.

Storing iPads and other mobile devices is very different to piling up the clipboards at the end of a shift. Patient information, data records and hospital administration details are all being held on smaller devices with larger memories and capacities. But with advancement comes risk. Problems arise in the fields of security, charging, storage and updating devices.
Most hospitals which utilise a large number of laptops, iPads or other mobile devices on a daily basis will have storage carts on the hospital floor. Carts are convenient as they not only store a number of devices back-to-back, but can easily be used to transport them all from one ward to another. Mainly seen in the administrative section of offices, their size is not overwhelming, allowing for flexibility and suitability to a busy hospital floor – as well as countering the likelihood of theft.

Unfortunately, when a patient is in hospital for a long period of time, family members E and friends will want to spend as much time with them as possible. Hospital waiting rooms are commonly full with anxious parents, children and spouses, trying to pass the time while they await news from an operation, an appointment or surgery.

Casting the memory back 20 years, such visitors would be seated with a selection of popular magazines to cipher through. However, as the hospital has become more digitalised, so has the waiting room. Mobile devices enable visitors to play games, watch films, or, more importantly, keep relatives up to date with the latest news.

But what happens when a battery dwindles to a low level? What happens when visitors can no longer distract themselves and begin to worry? What happens when the ability to keep other family members informed disappears? Patients and their families need to be able to communicate with each other during such critical moments of their lives, and therefore it is crucial to have the infrastructure in place to charge mobile devices.

Mobile phone charging stations are becoming a staple in most hospitals, as the patient experience becomes more aligned to the digital revolution. Charging towers, which are very popular in the US, but are slowing becoming established in UK hospitals, allow a number of people to charge their devices simultaneously.

There was an outdated belief that mobile phones interfered with medical equipments, preventing them from working properly. While medical devices have an array of safety technologies to stop interference from taking place, mobile devices are now commonplace among staff. While there are guidance notices in most hospitals about the appropriate use of mobile usage by patients and visitors, such as the use of phone photography, institutions are far more lenient towards their usage than previous decades.

The hospital bed can be a restrictive and intimidating place to lay. Doctors and nurses come and go throughout the day in quick succession, sleep is hard to achieve and medical speech can be confusing. Technology can help make that experience more comfortable by providing a sense of familiarity to an unfamiliar setting and allowing a patient more information than doctors may have had time to deliver first hand.

A digital NHS
Jeremy Hunt has announced a £4.2 billion investment to bring the NHS into the digital age. Areas of improvement include an ambition to have a paper‑free NHS, investment in cyber security and data consent, a new NHS website and apps for patients, development of a new click‑and‑collect service for prescriptions, and, of course, free Wi-Fi in all NHS buildings.

Hunt said: “The NHS has the opportunity to become a world leader in introducing new technology – which means better patient outcomes and a revolution in healthcare at home.”

Running in parallel to this ambition are the seven workstreams of the National Information Board. These include objectives such as providing patients and the public with digital access to health and care information and transactions, with a focus on prevention and self-care. This will include a national experiment to give patients a personalised, mobile care record which they control and can edit,
but which is also available in real time to their clinicians.

In supporting better decision making on behalf of the patient, workstream 1.2 focuses on providing citizens with access to an endorsed set of NHS and social care apps. The workstream suggests that endorsement can encourage health and care professionals to recommend the use of safe and effective digital applications and give greater confidence to patients and citizens to select and use them.

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