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GPs rally patients against cuts which would see up to 100 practices close

GPs are mobilising patients to campaign against planned cuts to funding which threaten to close 100 practices in England, with doctors in east London taking the unprecedented step of blanket texting patients to raise support.

Practice managers estimate that up to 700,000 patients in England could lose their local GP surgery if controversial Government plans to reallocate millions of pounds worth of GP funding go ahead.

Although aimed at making GP funding fairer, the withdrawal of the minimum practice income guarantee (MPIG) could leave 98 practices facing funding cuts that will put them at risk of closure.

NHS England pledged earlier this year that the 98 would be offered support, but local GPs and the British Medical Association (BMA) have both attacked health chiefs for failing to put any concrete plans in place to rescue surgeries at risk.

The reorganisation has disproportionately impacted practices in inner city areas with high levels of deprivation, as well as rural surgeries with small numbers of patients who have to travel miles to see their doctor.

The changes come amid wider discontent in the profession over the falling share of NHS funding set aside for GP services.

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The high-performing Jubilee Street Practice in Tower Hamlets, which stands to lose £1 million of MPIG funding over the next seven years, recently texted all patients to alert them to the risk that the surgery might close.

Meanwhile the Nightingale Practice in neighbouring Hackney has texted all patients to ask them to sign an online petition against the withdrawal of MPIG funding.

Only patients who had consented to receive text messages from their surgery received the messages, and no additional network costs were incurred, spokespeople for both practices said.

NHS England maintains that the majority of GP practices stand to gain from the reallocation of MPIG funds, but said it would work with practices that will lose out.

Their chief executive, Simon Stevens, England’s top health official, has been personally warned about the risk of practice closures by the BMA’s GP chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul, who has requested an urgent meeting on the issue.

NHS England is expected to set out its plans for surgeries at risk in London by the end of this week. However, with NHS budgets already severely stretched, any extra funding to support GP services at risk may have to come from the Government and pressure is growing for the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene.

Labour’s shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said that the changes were “pull[ing] the rug from under a number of very valuable practices” at a time when people were already finding it harder to get a GP appointment.

“Jeremy Hunt must grasp the nettle and sort out this threat of GP practice closures,” he said.

Representatives from the Jubilee Street practice will meet the Conservative health minister Earl Howe next week in an attempt to reach a breakthrough.

Dr Sarah Williams, a GP at the Nightingale Practice, who set up the petition on the campaign website 38 Degrees, said that patients needed to be warned about the scale of the threat to services.

“If we don’t get publicity and start shouting about it then it will just get pushed through quietly and it will be too late,” she said. “We need to mobilise patients. There are so many people who don’t want to see their surgery close.”

The Royal College of General Practitioners backed the petition, repeating calls for the Government to guarantee that no practices would close as a result of the withdrawal of MPIG funding.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker told The Independent: “We are clear that this is another unnecessary, yet very concerning, pressure for GPs to deal with and unfortunately it is patients that will suffer most.”

An NHS England spokesperson for the London region said: “We understand the challenges some London GPs are facing as a result of these changes…These changes – which are part of a national policy – will help make GP funding more equitable across London and the majority of practices will gain as a result.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said that NHS will be “supporting the most affected practices to adjust” as MPIG payments are phased out.

 

UK women are fattest in western Europe: 1 in 12 are clinically obese

Young women in the UK are fatter than anywhere else in western Europe with one in 12 being clinically obese, a study has shown.

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Researchers looking at weight levels in 188 countries found that more than half the planet’s 671 million obese people live in just 10 countries.

Just over eight per cent of females in the UK aged under 20 are obese while 29.2 per cent are overweight, according to research published in The Lancet medical journal.

The study, which uncovered a “startling” surge in the level of obesity worldwide, found in the UK that among adults, those aged 20 and older, a quarter are obese.

More men are fat than women with 66.6 per cent classed as overweight and 24.5 per cent obese. Among women, 57.2 per cent are overweight with 25.4 per cent classified as obese.

Professor John Newton, of Public Health England, said: “The levels of obesity in the UK – and indeed, across the world – are of great concern. That is why Public Health England is putting in so much effort to attempt to reverse the trend.

“The challenge of obesity is at the heart of current debate about the health of the nation and we are working closely with local authorities, the NHS and the voluntary and community sector to tackle this complex issue.”

Researchers discovered that worldwide from 1980 to 2013 the number of overweight people rose from 857 million to 2.1 billion, an increase of 28% for adults and 47% among children.

The ten countries which are home to more than half the world’s obese people are the US, which has 13 per cent of them and where a third of adults are obese, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Of 22 western European countries looked at by the research team, Andora performed the best. Of its population of just over 78,000, 10.6% of adult men and 7.2% of women are classified as obese.

Professor Emmanuela Gakidou, from the University of Washington, led the study and said: “Unlike other major global health risks, such as tobacco and childhood nutrition, obesity is not decreasing worldwide.

“Our findings show that increases in the prevalence of obesity have been substantial, widespread, and have arisen over a short time. However, there is some evidence of a plateau in adult obesity rates that provides some hope that the epidemic might have peaked in some developed countries and that populations in other countries might not reach the very high rates of more than 40% reported in some developing countries.

“Our analysis suggests that the UN’s target to stop the rise in obesity by 2025 is very ambitious and is unlikely to be achieved without concerted action and further research to assess the effect of population-wide interventions, and how to effectively translate that knowledge into national obesity control programmes.

“In particular, urgent global leadership is needed to help low-and middle-income countries intervene to reduce excessive calorie intake, physical inactivity, and active promotion of food consumption by industry.”

Play it Up: Scheduling’s Role in Improving Private Duty Care

Doing more with less has become something of a mantra in healthcare. For those involved with private duty nursing, doing more with less is just the tip of the iceberg, say Shallina Bowers, executive director, HealthCare Services, and Wes McGuirk, regional director, at Oxford HealthCare, Springfield, Mo.

Schedulings-role-in-private-duty-care-300x200Bowers and McGuirk led a session during the 2014 McKesson Homecare & Hospice National Users’ Conference on how to help drive business through effective private duty scheduling.

Two main factors are driving change for private duty organizations: client expectations and increasingly complex scheduling. Our aging population (a 135% increase in adults aged 75 or older from 1950 to 2050, according to the Census Bureau) means private duty services are in demand and likely to become more so.

But it’s not our mother’s private duty — today’s providers face increased requirements and a more sophisticated client profile. And instead of the 48-hours-per-week average private-duty contract Oxford HealthCare saw in 2005, today’s patient wants around 16 hours per week, making scheduling a critical function for providers.

Fortunately, advanced home care scheduling software can expedite today’s private-duty administration, helping to improve customer service, eliminate scheduling errors and streamline the billing process. It’s also a terrific way to help differentiate your offering from your competitors.

Before and after
In the past, private duty involved:

  • Mainly private-pay patients
  • Few regulatory requirements
  • Mainly nursing functions

In contrast, today’s private duty often involves:

  • Multiple payers for the same visit
  • Requirements that vary by payer
  • Varied services (everything from babysitting and housekeeping to personal care aide services and nursing services)

Keeping track of scheduling, billing and payroll in this constantly changing landscape can be a daunting task. Not to mention clients who expect to receive precisely the service they contracted for (and don’t want to track what was provided when) and employees who need immediate notification of schedule changes and want control over where and when they work.

Clearly, today’s private-duty managers need all the help they can get. Bowers and McGuirk say they need sophisticated features like those in the home care scheduling functionality of McKesson Homecare™:

  • Incentives promised to the employee can be built directly onto the schedule
  • Notes for employee performance can be documented and used at evaluation meetings
  • Single visits involving multiple payers can be built on the same episode
  • Education can be built directly into employee schedules so they don’t miss it
  • Education can be assigned, completed and tracked from within the system
  • Sharing of employees across business lines can be simplified
  • Nurse care managers can easily see which tasks still need to be performed and quickly change patient care plans as needed

A game changer
Solving your home care scheduling issues does more than just help you gain efficiencies — it gives you a way to set your agency above the competition. Instead of tired marketing campaigns touting “compassionate care” and “leadership in the industry,” you can talk about real benefits.

For example, Bowers and McGuirk say that better scheduling and tracking means patients don’t have to worry about policing their private-duty appointments. Instead, they’ll see high service levels, prompt visits, staff changes kept to a minimum for better continuity of care, and a seamless process with no scheduling errors or billing issues.

You’ve got a great story to tell employees as well, including having the information they need at their fingertips and a work schedule that reflects their preferences for geographic areas and times of the day. They’ll also be able to easily understand their paycheck so they can match it with their records.

Bowers and McGuirk say that you’ll soon be going beyond doing more with less. You’ll be successfully doing better with less and creating satisfied clients along the way.

Cynics may be at greater risk of developing dementia

Older people who harbour a cynical distrust of others are about three times more likely to develop dementia than individuals who have a more trusting view of humanity, a study has found.

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Cynical distrust was measured by questionnaires testing a person’s tendency to believe that others are mainly motivated by selfish concerns and it has in the past been linked with an increased risk of heart disease, the researchers said.

The findings suggest that a person’s psychological makeup could play a role in determining their predisposition to senile dementia, along with factors such as smoking, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.

“These results add to the evidence that people’s view of life and personality may have an impact on their health. Understanding how a personality trait like cynicism affects risk for dementia might provide us with important insights on how to reduce risks for dementia,” said Anna-Maija Tolppanen of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio, who led the research.

The study involved health and psychological tests on nearly 1,500 elderly Finns with an average age of 71 who were followed up over a period of about eight years to determine their general health and their views on life, such as whether they have high or low levels of cynical distrust of others.

For instance they were asked about whether they agree with statements such as: “I think most people would like to get ahead”, “it is safer to trust nobody, and “most people will use somewhat unfair reasons to gain profit or an advantage rather than lose it”.

During that time, 46 of a panel of 622 people who completed the two sets of tests at the start and end of the study had developed dementia. After adjusting for other factors known to affect dementia risk, such as smoking, the researchers found that of the remaining 164 people with high levels of cynical distrust, 14 had developed dementia, compared to nine among the 212 people judged to have low levels of cynicism.

“The main message from the study would be that psychological factors are also important for the risk of developing dementia,” said Alina Solomon of the University of Eastern Finland, one of the authors of the study published in the journal Neurology.

“It’s difficult to say what the exact reasons are but we could assume that an attitude of distrust may influence a person’s lifestyle and social networks… We don’t say it’s a causal factor, we just say it increases the risk,” Dr Solomon said.

Mobile health monitoring to be $8B market in 2019

The market for mobile health monitoring and diagnostics was worth $650 million in 2012, according to a new report from Transparency Market Research. The firm projects that the market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 43.3 percent from 2013 to 2019. That will put the market at $8 billion in 2019.

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Transparency defines the mobile health monitoring and diagnostic space as smartphone-connected cardiac monitors, glucose monitors, blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, multi-parameter monitors and sleep apnea monitors. They reported that cardiac monitors have held the majority of the market share so far, followed by glucose monitors and blood pressure monitors.

However, over the next five years, glucose monitors are projected to grow faster than any other category, followed by multi-parameter monitors. The glucose monitor growth rate is projected at over 45 percent.

Transparency chalks the growth up to several factors. One is the increased demand for remote patient monitoring in a healthcare landscape intent on reducing costs. Additionally, the aging population is growing each year, the incidence of chronic disease is increasing, and the mobile web is becoming more popular and accessible.

The firm also identified a few challenges for the market, namely continued uncertainty about FDA regulations, public concerns about privacy and data loss and a lower awareness of mobile health in developing countries.

Transparency Market Research’s estimate of $8 billion in 2019 is conservative compared to other reports. In March, Grand View Research pegged the market at $49 billion by 2020 and BCC Research put it at $21.5 billion by 2018. The discrepancy could partly be due to Grand View and BCC Research using a wider definition of the category.

Stem cells look promising for treating heart disease

Taking stem cells from a patient’s bone marrow and injecting them into damaged heart tissue may become an effective way to treat heart disease, suggests a new study. Researchers reviewed data from the clinical trials that have been conducted so far of these novel therapies.

‘This is encouraging evidence that stem cell therapy has benefits for heart disease patients. However, it is generated from small studies and it is difficult to come to any concrete conclusions until larger clinical trials that look at longer-term effects are carried out,’ says Dr Enca Martin-Rendon of the University of Oxford and a member of the Cochrane Heart Review Group that carried out the study.

The Cochrane group found that stem cell therapy using bone marrow cells resulted in fewer deaths due to heart disease and heart failure, compared to a placebo or standard treatment alone. The stem cell therapy also reduced the likelihood of patients being readmitted to hospital, and improved heart function.

However, the researchers say that we need to wait for the results of much larger clinical trials currently underway to be more certain about the effects of stem cell therapy.

The group used data from 23 randomised controlled trials involving a total of 1,255 people, where all participants received standard treatments for heart disease. Their findings are published in The Cochrane Library.

Stem cell therapies are experimental treatments that are currently only available in facilities carrying out medical research. The procedure involves collecting stem cells from a patient’s own blood or bone marrow and using the cells to repair damaged tissues in the patient’s heart and arteries.

If eventually found to be effective, stem cells might offer an alternative or complementary treatment to standard drug and surgical treatments for some patients with chronic heart disease.

The Cochrane review found that within the first year, there were no clear benefits of stem cell therapy over standard treatment alone. But when longer term data were analysed a year or more later, about 3% of people treated with stem cells had died compared with 15% of people in the control groups. Hospital readmissions were reduced to 2 in every 100 people compared to 9 in every 100 in the control group, and adverse effects were rare.

Dr Martin-Rendon of Oxford University’s Radcliffe Department of Medicine says: ‘It isn’t clear which types of stem cells work best or why stem cell therapies seem to work for some people but not for others. We need to find out what’s different in the people who aren’t responding well to these treatments, as it might then be possible to tailor therapies to these patients so that they work better.’

Dr David Tovey, editor-in-chief of the Cochrane Library, says: ‘This review should help to raise awareness of the potential of stem cell therapy to improve patient outcomes. But it also demonstrates the importance of recognising the uncertainty of initial findings and the need for further research.’

Smaller companies driving innovation in pharma

The rise of specialty medicines means smaller companies are emerging as the leading source of innovation in the pharma industry, according to new data from IMS Health.

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Presenting at the market research firm’s London offices last week, Sarah Rickwood, director of the IMS Europe Thought Leadership team, explained that companies with revenues of less than $500m were the original patent holders for 57 per cent of new drugs approved by the US FDA in 2013.

This compared with a figure of 39 per cent for the same group of companies in 2003, showing a marked rise in the impact smaller firms have had on new medicines in the past ten years.

By contrast the collected top 25 pharma companies were the source of innovation for 26 per cent of FDA approvals in 2003, but this fell to just 13 per cent in 2013.

For Rickwood the reason for this change was the growing precedence of specialty medicines for specific, non-primary healthcare disease.

“The drugs that smaller companies are developing are often specialist drugs, such as orphan products. This is about companies like Celgene, which is no longer a small company, but it was when it first developed [the myeloma treatment] Revlimid (lenalidomide).”

For medium companies, as a source of the innovation behind FDA-approved drugs, the rate stayed relatively flat over the 10-year period, rising from 14 per cent to 17 per cent, while the ‘other’ category, including universities, fell from 21 per cent to 13 per cent.

The figures reflect a decline in ‘blockbuster’-type products and a move towards targeted treatments due to improvements in science and existing successful treatment options in more general areas.

Rickwood explained how such changes in R&D have impacted traditional sales models, allowing smaller companies to compete with larger rivals.

“I think what has happened is that companies have realised if you have a specialist product you don’t need huge sales forces, which is the traditional advantage of a large pharma company,” she said.

“You also don’t necessarily need global reach,” she added. “If you have a highly specialised, very expensive product for small patient population that needs specialist prescribers and sophisticated faculties, you just need to focus on developed markets.”

She concluded: “The playing field is much more level between smaller companies and larger companies.”

Samsung reveals Simband and Sami health platform

Samsung has unveiled a prototype wristband that can be fitted with third-party sensors to gather a range of health data about the wearer’s body.

It also discussed plans to store and share the information to offer insights to both the user and researchers.

The Simband device and Sami (Samsung Architecture Multimedia Interactions) platform were announced at a press event held in San Francisco.

One expert said their fate might depend on the quality of data gathered.

Samsung discussed being able to take precise readings for heart rate, blood flow, respiration, galvanic skin response, hydration, and gas and glucose concentrations in the blood among other body readings, as well as data about substances carried in the surrounding air – all on a device no bigger than existing smartwatches.

Dr Aiden Doherty, a senior health researcher at the University of Oxford, noted that experts currently required more bulky, costly equipment to do this reliably.
Samsung dataSamsung suggested Sami be used to present simple insights into the wearer’s health

“There’s a tension because medical devices have to undergo rigorous checks while consumer devices don’t,” he told the BBC.

“For any company or university or health researcher the number one thing is that a device provides accurate output, otherwise inaccurate data would mean our insights would be inaccurate too.”

Health data custodian

The South Korean firm has teamed up with Imec – a nanoelectronics research centre based in Belgium – the University of California, San Francisco, and software firm TicTrac to create the digital health initiative.

SimbandSamsung said that users would not need to take the wristband off to recharge it

Samsung Electronic’s chief strategy officer Young Sohn noted that the idea would only come to fruition if “we all work together as one”, signalling the firm’s need for other health and tech professionals to take part if Sami was to become an industry standard.

To that end, it promised it would have a “beta” version of both the Simband and APIs (application program interfaces) for the cloud-based Sami data repository available by the end of the year, so that other developers could test ways to use them to collect and share data.

Many company watchers noted that the announcement appeared shortly before Apple’s developers conference, which begins on Monday. The iPhone-maker is known to have recruited several health sensor researchers of its own over recent years, and there is speculation it will detail plans for its own health data platform.

Although Samsung made clear that users would have control over how data was shared and described Sami as a “custodian”, it is well aware of the potential profits the health sector holds. The firm noted itself at the event that $6.5 trillion (£3.9tn) was currently spent a year on global healthcare.

The consultancy firm IHS Technology recently forecast that the global market for fitness, sports and activity monitors would rise from $1.9bn last year to $2.8bn in 2018.

Samsung SimbandSamsung said it hoped to have a beta device available by the end of the year

But Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech suggested that sum would be bolstered by the value of add-on services.

“The platform behind the actual Simband shows that Samsung want to be a key player in the internet of things and big data game, possibly signalling that going forward Samsung wants to be more like Google than Apple,” she said.

Google has also unveiled its own concept wearable this year – a “smart contact lens” that measures glucose levels.

Clip-on recharger

Other details revealed at Samsung’s event included a plan to include wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity in the Simband device.

Sami BiojournalSamsung said it was working on APIs so that third-parties could access the data gathered

To avoid a repeat of criticism levelled against its existing smartwatches, Samsung suggested that a magnetic battery charger could be attached to the device while the wearer slept, to avoid them having to take it off at night.

It also suggested one possible way of presenting the data would be to offer a “wellness score” as a simple percentage read-out that would indicate the extent to which the wristband’s owner was taking care of themself.

In addition, Samsung announced it would create a $50m fund that would be awarded to participants in its new Digital Health Challenge, intended to spur on development of new sensors and software.

The firm promised to reveal more about the project at its annual developers conference, which last year took place in October.

$650 Million to Settle Blood Thinner Lawsuits

The German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim has agreed to pay $650 million to settle thousands of lawsuits involving its blood thinner Pradaxa, the company said Wednesday.

The settlement will most likely resolve most of the 4,000 cases in state and federal courts filed by patients and their families who claimed that Boehringer failed to properly warn them that the drug, which is used to prevent blood clots, caused serious and sometimes fatal bleeding that could not easily be reversed. The first case was set to go to trial in September.

In a statement, the company said that it stood behind the safety and efficacy of Pradaxa and continued to believe that the lawsuits lacked merit, but that settling the case allowed the company to move on. “Time and again, the benefits and safety of Pradaxa have been confirmed,” said Desiree Ralls-Morrison, senior vice president and general counsel of Boehringer Ingelheim USA.

Ned McWilliams, a lawyer in Pensacola, Fla., who represented some plaintiffs, said he was pleased with the agreement. “We believed from the very beginning that the company had no defense to the claims in this case,” he said. “The fact that Boehringer Ingelheim has agreed to compensate thousands of victims hundreds of millions of dollars prior to expert disclosure or trial is telling in this regard.”

Pradaxa, which was approved in 2010, was the first in a new group of blood thinners intended to replace an older treatment, warfarin, that required patients to submit to frequent blood tests and adhere to a strict diet. One of Pradaxa’s main selling points was its convenience because it did not require any tests or dietary restrictions.

But after it arrived on the market, emergency department doctors and trauma surgeons became alarmed because patients using the drug were arriving with life-threatening bleeding that did not always respond to standard treatments. Pradaxa does not have an antidote to stop bleeding when it occurs, although Boehringer is developing one.

Pradaxa has been prescribed to 850,000 patients in the United States. It has been linked to more than 1,000 deaths, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, which tracks drug safety. The company has stood by the drug’s safety profile, and follow-up studies by the Food and Drug Administration have also concluded that the drug’s benefits outweigh its risks.

Lawyers for the patients, however, claimed that the company misled patients and their doctors about Pradaxa’s risks and about its advantages over warfarin.

Company documents, made public earlier this year by the judge overseeing most of the lawsuits, showed that Boehringer employees argued for revising — and even quashing — an internal research paper because they feared it would lead some to conclude that patients on Pradaxa would benefit from taking blood tests. That could undercut a major selling point of the drug, the employees warned.

Pradaxa has sales of more than $2 billion in the United States, according to the research firm IMS Health.

Why mobile working is the future of frontline social care (Guest Post)

The deployment of mobile technology will overcome some sector resistance to become the default method of working in social care believes Bill Kinnear, Service Manager, Criminal Justice Social Work Service at Fife Council

People are generally reluctant to embrace change of any sort. Irrespective of industry, line of business or any individual’s specific role, people are mostly content to maintain the status quo. If something is working well or reasonably well, what’s the point in ripping up the rule book and starting again?

There is an element of this type of caution when it comes to the use of mobile working within frontline social care. A recentTotalMobile focus group into how mobile working can support social care workers showed that the two greatest challenges facing those in the sector are too little face-to-face time with service users (70%) and diminishing budgets (65%). Yet 30% of focus group participants admitted that mobile working was not yet on their agenda in helping to address these concerns. This is despite respondents acknowledging the benefits of mobile working, such as more efficient use of staff time and more time spent with service users.

Social care = mobile working

The focus group also discussed the main potential challenges in implementing a mobile working strategy. Inadequate budgets constraints was predictably the top answer – this informs virtually everything in the public sector currently – followed by connectivity issues such as there not being a mobile signal at the service user’s home. That’s a hard one to address as mobile coverage in the UK is certainly not what it could and should be. But that said, there are relatively few total blind spots now, although I appreciate the frustration if you happen to live or work in one of those blind spots.

But the next biggest challenge cited by the focus group was staff acceptance to mobile working, which struck me as an odd response. Because I think that social care has ALWAYS involved mobile working. After all, it’s never really been overly office-based, with care workers always out and about visiting service users. A good frontline social care worker should want to be out and visiting those in need of their help as much as they can, a fact acknowledged by a majority of those at the focus group. That’s why frontline social care is in fact one of the industries and sectors that is arguably most likely to benefit from mobile technology.

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Why mobile works in social care

In Fife’s case, I believe mobile technology has made us more flexible and productive – plus helped reduce costs. We are Scotland’s third largest local authority and are three years into a five year programme intended to increase efficiency and improve service delivery. We were set a target of realising efficiencies of £20M over this period and are well on track to achieve this, helped in no small part by the TotalMobile platform.

On the social care side specifically, I manage seven operational team managers as part of my role, all of whom have social workers at their heart and without a doubt, mobile working is a major part of what we all do. My remit is across the whole Fife area, which includes both rural and urban areas.

Teams are helping people right across Fife. To do that, they need immediate access to email, to view patient notes, to access and fill in forms and much more. And being able to access these things remotely has a major impact on productivity. Mobile working means social workers get more face-to-face time with the people they are trying to help, for example; previously, people would have to drive to appointments, come back to the office to update systems and get the details of their next visit. Plainly, this is not the best use of their time.

The potential benefits of mobile working are many, a fact highlighted at the focus group.

  • Much less time spent on admin – 41%
  • Greater amount of time spent with service users – 71%
  • Improved sharing of information between organisation, staff and service user – 47%
  • Improved experience for service user – 53%
  • Less risk of out of date or incorrect paperwork – 76%
  • More manageable case loads – 24%
  • Better work / life balance for staff – 41%
  • Greater productivity for the department – 41%
  • More attractive for recruitment – 29%
  • More efficient use of staff time – 82%
  • Money saved in areas such as printing and fuel consumption – 59%

The most commonly cited benefit to mobile working given was more efficient use of staff time, followed by less risk of out of date paperwork and then greater amounts of time spent with service users. This is the crux of what mobile working can deliver – more time with those that need it.

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Getting organisational buy-in

I’m not saying that a mobile implementation is ever going to be painless and as on the whole, many people are still wary of mobile working. But there are always advocates, perhaps younger team members that have known and used mobile devices all their life. My strategy is always to get those staff that have bought into it ‘on side’ and use them to help persuade the sceptical – making them agents of change, convincing others. People are invariably interested in what their peers and colleagues are using and if there is enough of a push from those that are comfortable with mobile technology, then others will follow.

Also, effective mobile working is based on trust. I trust my team implicitly. If they want or need to work from home that is fine, I don’t need to always physically ‘see’ them and we don’t believe in presence management. It is 2014 and people live and work in different ways to how they did even a decade ago. The days of working 9:00 to 5:00 are long gone and if people need an hour for a dentist appointment, to do the school run or just want to take stock, then as long as they make the time up, surely that is ok?

All in all, we want to create and sustain a culture of freedom, honesty and integrity and unquestionably, mobile working is a key component of that. I would say to others that mobile working it is a modern and progressive way of working and I am convinced, the future for social care.

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