Bristol Community Health hopes to make significant efficiency improvements using an app platform from TotalMobile.

The not-for-profit organisation has started a four-month pilot with 100 staff working in therapy teams and phlebotomy services.

However, the hope is that all of its staff will eventually use the apps platform for everything from accessing email to updating both health and social care notes in real time.

Penny Phillpotts, Bristol Community Health HR director, explained that the hunt for new ways of working came from the cost pressures that the organisation is facing.

“We wanted something to give us a competitive edge, while making CRES [cash releasing efficiency savings] without doing something like not filling vacancies,” she said.

“We looked into mobile working, and got more and more interest at board level. Our commissioners have also been very supportive, and have helped us with the funding for the pilot.”

The TotalMobile app platform draws information from different IT systems to mobile devices, and stores data entered via the devices back to these underlying systems.

As a result, it can be used in many different ways. In Bristol, staff can access lists of the visits they need to make, complete with contact numbers and maps.

These are linked to workflow tools that enable staff to note they are on the way to a call or to record that they have completed one.

A ‘folio’ of patient information includes data from the local community system, RiO, from the Emis systems used by local GPs, care plans, and other information, such as pictures of wounds to show how a patient is progressing.

Staff can add their own pictures, fill in forms, pre-populate letters, and file information back to RiO and Emis.

At a recent conference, Phillpotts told EHI that “when we started, we thought we would have one system that would integrate with RiO, which doesn’t have a mobile application.

“But now our roadmap is to put all our corporate systems on there, because the real benefit will come from people no longer having to come back to base to use a PC to claim their expenses or to update their records.

“One reason that our clinical commissioning group has been so supportive is that, at the moment, nurses have to go into GP practices to type notes into [Emis], as well as into their systems. Now, they can input one note and all the systems update in real time.”

Technically, the platform could also pull information from the local social care system, provided by LiquidLogic. However, Bristol Community Health has already had to overcome a number of regulatory obstacles just to get the pilot off the ground.

It has had to work with the Health and Social Care Information Centre on Spine connectivity, and with the Care Quality Commission on record keeping requirements. The organisation is looking at mobile printing to meet the CQC’s requirement to leave paper records with some patients.

TotalMobile is relatively new to the NHS, but already works across local government. Chief executive Colin Read emphasised that its app platform would support any device, including ‘bring your own device’ policies.

Phillpotts said she was “all for” BYOD.

“For new graduates, this kind of thing can be more important than salary when it comes to deciding where to go to work,” she said.

“We can say to people, you can have any device you like.”