Wirral Community NHS Trust is to incorporate iPad apps into patients’ rehabilitation treatment processes.
Clinicians involved in the speech and language therapy team at the new community trust are currently selecting apps already available from iTunes, which they believe will help improve the service they provide to patients.
The apps will be used to support the treatment of adults who have suffered strokes or undergone ear, nose and throat surgery and children who have difficulties communicating.
Ian Hogan, head of technology at Wirral Community NHS Trust, told eHealth Insider that the initiative was driven by a desire to “empower and engage with patients”.
“The scheme has been driven by clinicians and it aims to embrace the technology we currently have available with the iPad. It will help support our service and in the meantime provide a real benefit to our patients.
“The apps for adults are readily available and are especially needed as many of our patients need help to rebuild their speech patterns. Again, there are many apps available for children which can support us and the care interventions we would like to make.”
The trust, which has initially purchased 12 iPads, believes the inclusion of such technology into treatment issued in clinical appointments will provide enhanced patient experience and better patient outcomes.
The use of iPads and apps will start in the next fortnight with a gradual roll-out across the trust if it proves a success. Patients will be encouraged to use the apps at home, providing they have access to an Apple device.
Hogan said that the scheme is aiming to educate patients and demonstrate how they can provide an element of “self-help” to their own treatment.
“We can’t introduce this as a core process for their treatment but what we can do is introduce them to the support mechanisms that we can offer in rehabilitation without taking anything away, or removing responsibility from the service we offer.
“As a new organisation we are trying to put ourselves at the forefront of how IM&T supports services. It’s using IM&T to define, but not dictate, how we do things and to support what our service needs.”
Wirral was established as part of the NHS reforms in April 2011 and the presentation of its IM&T strategy to its board in July of that year aimed to “push the boundaries of mobile technology”.
This aim has also driven the development of a breastfeeding app designed in-house by the trust’s infant feeding team.
Breast Start is developed with the help of a software company called NTTX, and is currently in beta testing with the aim of promoting and supporting breastfeeding among new mothers.
Hogan told EHI that the trust is developing such schemes as it is keen to promote and view “IM&T as an enabler” rather than as a “barrier to the delivery of care”.
“Again it is not to take away from the service we offer but instead provide care, advice and information for when mothers often come under the most pressure early in the morning.
“The design has been driven by clinicians and the service user through engagement with various baby groups in the area. We hope that the app will provide a 24/7 support mechanism for when we are not available outside 9-5,” he said.
The app is being used to incentivise breastfeeding through partnerships with companies such as Toni&Guy and Mothercare, which offer breastfeeding mothers discounted treatments and products.
Breast Start also provides quick and easy-to-read “how to guides”, information on “breastfeeding friendly” places, and links to external sites that provide additional information.
“We are trying to promote the advantages of breastfeeding without brow beating mothers as there is a clear understanding that not everyone can or wants to breastfeed.”
The app, which is free of charge, will finish testing in the next two weeks and will be made available to mothers shortly after.
© 2012 EHealth Media.
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