Locala Community Partnerships has signed with Dell for a hybrid cloud service to move forward with a mobile working project.

Locala is a community interest company that provides NHS community services to Kirklees and the surrounding area.

The new service will allow community staff to consult with specialists via video conference from patients’ homes and provide baby clinics using Skype.

Locala chief executive Robert Flack said Locala had spent the past four years driving efficiency and quality improvements via mobile working.

The programme had been a success so about a year ago they decided to look at “what next for us as an organisation?”

“We decided what we really wanted to do is genuinely explore how to become a truly digital healthcare provider within the community setting and a fundamental part of that is getting the basics right,” he said.

“Moving to a cloud-based infrastructure is the next step and will offer much more unified and reliable access to patient information at the point of care.”

After a competitive dialogue process, Locala chose to work with Dell on a hybrid-cloud service.

It will connect staff with all their required clinical applications as well as the N3 network, Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Lync.

Flack said the organisation’s 1,200 staff had been using Panasonic Toughbooks and would now be using Dell 13 or 15-inch ruggedised laptops.

Staff would also be given the option to bring their own device as the cloud allowed them to be platform-agnostic.

He said the role of community clinicians was becoming increasingly complex and staff needed all the information about their patients in one place to make the best decisions.

“We need everyone to have access to as much of the record as possible so we’re really improving connectivity and the device and log-in times,” he explained.

The system also allows staff to work offline as the local area has numerous patches without reception.

Flack said these improvements would give staff confidence to engage more with mobile working.

He added that the trust was getting rid of all its telephones except smartphones and using Microsoft Lync as its phone system.

Last week the trust trialled a situation where a district nurse was with a patient in their home and did a video conference with a physiotherapist.

“That changed the journey fundamentally because previously the patient would have had to go to physio or the physio would have to visit. I’m very confident that this will make a real difference,” he explained.

Locala is also reducing its number of baby clinics from 40 to 20, but adding a health visitor on-call service via Skype from 8am – 8pm every weekday as well as Saturday and Sunday mornings.

The organisation has a five-year arrangement with Dell and expects pay-back on its investment after two years.

“It’s a bit of a leap of faith, not just new systems and new devices, but taking the organisation on a digital journey where we really change the way we deliver services,” said Flack.