d4 survey presentation at The King’s Fund

We are presenting the results from our survey on mobile phone usage by health care professionals in the UK today at The King’s Fund.  It’s part of the Mobile Healthcare Industry Review 2010, an event we’re glad to be headlining.

We’ll be doing some press throughout the day and will be posting the press releases here on the blog.  The first press release will explain d4 and our research, and the second is a special announcement regarding one action we’re taking as a result.

So what does our research conclude?

In a nut-shell, a 80% of health professionals are carrying phones at work, and cite multiple work-related uses for this.

  • First is being able to communicate with colleagues, whether via phone, SMS or email (82% of respondents)
  • Second is being able to look up information on the intranet/internet (46% of respondents)
  • Equal third is running work-related software/apps on their phone and communicating with patients (18%)

The results vary depending on profession – for example doctors cite using work-related apps more than nurses, while nurses cite using phones to communicate with patients more than doctors.

Health professionals are propping up the NHS via their personal phone use

But while the use cases are interesting, the far more significant finding for us was around the barriers to mobile phone use.

For example, the survey asked health professionals to estimate how much of their mobile phone bill was work-related, and then followed this with a question on what proportion of their bill was claimed as an expense.  Only 8% of health professionals who stated that they incurred a work-related expense received compensation for the cost incurred.

This means that a large number of health professionals who are using their own phone at work in order to increase their productivity are out of pocket.  We estimate that in total this could amount to more than £100 million per year.  Contrast this with our estimate that £1+ billion is wasted by the NHS every year due to poor communication, on the basis that health professionals waste time and patients stay in hospital longer than necessary due to archaic communication methods like switchboards and pagers.

This fits with today’s headlines, with MPs warning that the scale of the NHS efficiency drive is extremely ambitious.  With the government under increasing pressure to defend its reform agenda and to evidence how £15-20 billion of efficiency gains can be made by the NHS without compromising patient care, perhaps it is time to consider investment in communication?

We won’t hold out breath.  While the health system fails to provide health professionals with the mobile technology they need to be productive at work, d4 will continue to support health professionals by finding ways to reduce their out of pocket expenses.

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