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May 6, 2021

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Contact tracing and COVID-19 director’s briefing

Healthcare security

How the NHS is embracing intelligent asset management solutions post COVID

The scale and degree of adaptation the NHS has achieved in the past 12 months is unprecedented in its 72-year history. The service acted swiftly to bolster its emergency preparedness and resilience, by rising to the challenge with innovation, technology, energy, and kindness.

Ben Farrar, Market Development Manager at Traka, suggests that out of the pandemic there is more of a unique opportunity to accelerate change in the NHS and embrace technology and asset management to prepare for a ‘new normal’ world living.

Healthcare-21A recent BBC headline, citing NHS stated: “COVID was the biggest NHS challenge since World War Two”. In the response to COVID-19, the culture of the frontline NHS organisations has undoubtedly been tested. It’s been an overwhelming and demanding experience, especially when it comes to dealing with ever changing situations and ways to respond.

In many cases, NHS frontline workers’ resilience and motivation have been forced to strengthen through a visceral realisation of sense of purpose and urgency.

Moving forward

The focus now for health and care systems will need to be experimenting and embedding new models. We need to plan to live with COVID-19 and for life after it. What lessons can be learnt?  Citing Sir Simon Stephens, the “blueprint” for the next phase of what our NHS needs to be includes hospitals and community services, together with local Government working together.

Which innovations do we want to keep?  Such clinical outcomes and care quality is outlined in the 2019 Long-term Plan.

Healthcare leaders will also need to concentrate more on the people the system will need to deliver the strategic vision. It will be a challenge to retain exhausted talent and attract the future doctors, nurses and support staff, renumerate them fairly and position UK healthcare as a highly desirable career choice.

Solutions to many of these issues are at hand. Sensitive data storage, digital communications and technologies are being embraced at a scale never dreamt of in the NHS. Currently, 99% of general practices are now capable of delivering care virtually.

The NHS has an opportunity to build on the momentum and continue to transform to embrace the ‘new normal’. The best way to do this, according to the NHS Action Plan for all, “is to mobilise a movement for improvement”.

Embracing technology for the long term

The NHS’s aging estate has been identified as a key area for improvement to enhance patient outcomes and staff productivity. By adopting technologies to increase efficiencies in day-to-day operations, frontline staff will be armed with equipment they need to deliver with more agility and responsiveness.

Asset management has been particularly beneficial in embedding aspects of health, safety and security procedures, and working towards more efficacy in the future.

One example is Traka’s work with Brighton & Hove NHS Trust, where asset management has improved the safety and accountability of the drugs issuing process, by installing its key management solutions.

Previously, keys to drugs lockers were issued manually, with one member of staff acting as a steward. However, this led to human error, difficulties in locating the keys and additional administration duties for busy ward staff.

Despite the thorough manual processes in place and the majority of staff remaining vigilant, stock discrepancies did occur, sometimes through genuine human error and in other cases, theft. This had serious health, safety, security and cost implications for the Trust.

After working with Traka, keys to the drug lockers are now stored within an intelligent key cabinet. Through the ward staff’s existing credentials, only authorised personnel are able to access the cabinet. Furthermore, the keys inside the system are locked in place by Traka’s secure iFobs, which means a hierarchy of access rights can be given to each key, depending on the strength or skill of administrating each drug. Within the cabinet, only certain keys will be available depending on the pre-determined access rights.

To maximise the security, the key cabinet has been programmed so that two members of staff swipe their credential to take and return a key to the system. This creates greater accountability and encourages an easy-to-achieve best practice amongst ward staff.

Traka-Healthcare-21Embracing digital technologies

In summary, COVID-19 has recognised a pivotal moment in healthcare. It is imperative that the renewed pride in the NHS is carried through with a renewed attitude to focus and the energy to meet the pace and scale of challenges, to ride the storm looking into the future as a catalyst change for the better.

Putting people front and centre, and accounting for positive mental wellbeing will positively impact patient outcomes, as well as staff retention and attracting new talent.

Technology and asset management has proven key to help improve efficiencies. While it’s true that this is a fairly humble application of technology, it still signifies a promising shift towards designing digital technologies into the way in which we use and optimise our healthcare spaces.

Traka has recently explored in detail the effects of COVID-19 on the NHS and technology and asset management solutions available to look forward to resourcing better support.

Download and learn more from the Traka whitepaper.

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