22 May 2018
NHS Trusts: Are Your Staff using Consumer IM Apps?
More than half a million NHS staff in England are using consumer instant messaging (IM) apps in work. This includes WhatsApp (29%), Facebook Messenger (16%) and iMessage (11%), with users commenting they have improved communication and care standards. However, according to a new report published by CommonTime, the use of these apps is creating a tension between data governance and patient care.
The Benefits to Staff and Patients
One of the main benefits of using consumer instant messaging apps is the ability to involve multiple members of staff within a conversation that requires them to be part of the decision making process, which can be achieved in a quicker manner.
“The ability to have ‘group chats’ is perhaps the most obvious benefit, and reflects the clinical reality that we work in teams, and often make decisions as teams. Phone and pager systems of working, (as well as) email, just don’t support that clinical workflow particularly if you need a rapid response from multiple team members.” – Martin Wilson, Clinical Lead for IT, The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust.
It’s not just team members that respondents are communicating with via these apps. 18% reported they either personally use IM apps to engage with patients or are aware of colleagues who do. It gives patients another communication channel to contact healthcare professionals, as nowadays many do not own a landline and rely on their mobile phones which could be out of call credit.
With Facebook and WhatsApp featuring frequently within the media, it’s no surprise that 75% of users expressed concerns over confidentiality through using the apps and that some officials have warned that this could create problems around security and isolate information from NHS systems.
“For me, the ability to prioritise tasks with the detail of IM is helpful to clinical staff and therefore a driver for use above pagers, for example. Yet the drawback remains that such detail of care never makes it into the patient record.” – Rowan Pritchard-Jones, Chief Clinical Information Officer at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Some professionals may even be breaking conduct with the use of consumer apps, as the report discloses that 39% of staff were not aware of their organisation’s governance and data documentation, with one in five not been offered or received training on data protection policy.
17% of respondents are not conscious of how to escalate concerns regarding potential breaches, which could cause the NHS more issues in the future with a larger focus being placed on data protection due to GDPR coming into effect at the end of the week.
Live chat on your website software is a great alternative to instant messaging apps within the workplace. Many solutions allow for users to chat internally with colleagues and provide a quick communication channel for online visitors to speak directly with healthcare professionals.
The instant nature of live chat on your website has proven popular with consumers and is the preferred contact method over telephone and email. The similarities with live chat and Facebook Messenger in terms of button placement and the look and feel of the windows, means visitors are confident in using the channel.
Live Chat Integration with NHS Systems
Click4Assistance live chat is compatible with multiple platforms, including those used in the NHS. With full authentication, our secure APIs use proven development tools such as SOAP web services and JSON. This allows NHS organisations to extract transcript information and consolidate patient data within their records system.
Information about your online visitor including name, telephone number and NHS number for example can be dynamically passed through chat to your representatives, whether they have entered their details on the pre-chat form, have entered their details or logged into a specific area within the website. This allows your operators to identify the enquirer quickly, helping to increase efficiency as they can address their questions sooner.
You can read more about integration here (link to integration page)
Live Chat Secureness
Data security is our top priority, software control, monitoring, physical security and governance ensures full compliance with regulations including GDPR.
To ensure the highest levels of protection, all data is processed and stored within the UK, using the latest security. Identifiable information including the full chat transcript is encrypted at rest and uses SHA256 in transit.
The system includes security measures to ensure all aspects of access can be controlled by your organisation, this includes:
- Login Policies for forced password strength and expiry
- Password lockout
- IP/Time Lockdown
- AD integration
- User privileges and permission
- Management control
Our comprehensive reporting suite including auditing ensures that full visibility of actions within the solution can be achieved.
NHS Successes with Live Chat
Many establishments across the UK who handle sensitive information have implemented Click4Assistance live chat to improve their online services. These are just a few of the NHS organisations we work with:
CWP NHS Foundation Trust
As part of delivering a health and wellbeing service to young people aiming to empower them to make informed decisions on their health and lifestyle, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership investigated ways they can extend their reach and approachability. Live chat was a natural choice for them as 52% of millennials would rather converse via text based communication. You can find out more about their implementation here.
NHS National Services Scotland
National Services Scotland procured live chat for Fit for Work Scotland to help with their goal of decreasing the impact that absence has and support a reduction is the length of sickness absence from work. Occupational therapists and specialists handle incoming chats, helping people with long term health issues receive the most accurate information for their situation. Read more here.
NHS Vale of York
Made up of 26 member GP practices, NHS Vale of York procured and implemented live chat for the Priory Medical Group in January 2018. The organisation uses the instant communication channel to book appointments and help improve online services to patients. Why not read ‘GP Surgeries Adopt Live Chat Software’ to find out more.
Ensure staff are using authorised methods of communication whilst improving patient care by integrating Click4Assistance live chat on your website and into your organisation’s systems. Contact our team on 01268 524628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a personalised demonstration and consultation to find out how your Trust can improve communications and efficiency.