A regional healthcare innovation body has provided evidence of major savings for the NHS in the use of instant messaging apps.
Kent Surrey Sussex Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) said the technology could save a trust close to £1 million a year in cash and non-cash savings, equating to £44 million if rolled out across acute trusts nationally.
The estimate is based on a review – taking in specific tasks for specific groups – of the impact of the Forward smartphone app that is currently used in over 100 NHS hospitals and clinical commissioning groups.
It led to a projection that the net present value savings for an acute trust could reach up to £6.9 million over five years and £340 million for the whole NHS. This would come from reducing pager numbers and avoiding fines and disciplinary action.
There would also be scope for large non-cash savings such as in clinicians’ time, reductions in staff turnover and sick days, improvement of teamwork and overall workflow.
The evaluation report highlights benefits in process time for communications between hospital departments, and tasks such as patient review and discharge and handling queries on medication and prescriptions.
It also points to some limitations such connectivity issues for the sites on which the app is used, ‘bring your own device’ policies and guidance on the use of communication tools.
Kent Surrey Sussex AHSN makes recommendations for the deployment of the app, including targeting users for whom it is likely to have the greatest impact, identifying the most relevant communications flows, and exploring how it could be used to embed various learnings about the processes.
AHSNs bring together NHS and academic organisations, local authorities, the third sector and industry to identify and spread innovation in healthcare.
Image by Tinh te Photo, public domain