For more than a decade, Onecom has worked in partnership with City & County Healthcare Group, providing technology that empowers its teams to provide quality care for vulnerable people in their homes.
The key word here is people – never forgetting that a unique individual is the reason for every visit. As the UK’s largest provider of community-based social and home care services, with 30,000 service users looked after by around 20,000 care workers, it is critical that the Group can provide a personalised service.
At the core of this commitment is City & County’s Model Branch technology, a suite of applications issued to every carer which contains digital care plans for every person they will look after. This includes vital health data such as medication regimes, information about their family, topics they like to talk about, and even how many sugars they like in their tea.
Having access to this information at their fingertips means staff save time that would otherwise be spent reading paper notes and can focus on meaningful interactions.
City & County Healthcare Group needed a technology partner that could be relied upon to provide reliable, secure devices and connectivity to its workforce across the UK.
This had to be achieved against a background of growth that has led to an almost ten-fold rise in mobilised staff numbers which have increased from 1,300 to 20,000 in the last four years.
The Group had a vision to supply smart devices to every single worker to support their decision-making and de-risk care for the benefit of service users.
The Group ruled out a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach early on, because of the need for reliability and the compliance requirements of the healthcare sector around patient confidentiality and data security.
As Amanda Hamilton, Chief Information Officer at City & County Healthcare Group explains: “Data is the answer. The more data we can collect via our care workers about our patients, the better care we can supply. The devices and the networks we use to do that are critical parts of that care.
“For example, a care worker’s understanding of what medication an individual needs is delivered on the software on those devices, so the resilience and security of those devices is key to our ability to deliver care. We also need to do that within the confines of our regulatory requirements in a way that is sensitive to data protection and GDPR – so security is crucial. Choosing a vendor that allowed us to achieve the digitalisation of care with a device set that enabled security and protection was vital for us."
Onecom’s solution combined versatile Samsung smartphones – most recently the ruggedised Samsung Galaxy XCover4S and XCover5 models – connected to the Vodafone network. Vodafone was the “network of choice” due to its strong and robust infrastructure.
The Samsung XCover devices are Enterprise Edition devices that are military-grade both in terms of their ruggedness and the security of their software. They are supplied at a very good price point and can be configured up to the Group’s precise requirements, taking away the need for the customer to use internal resource to set them up. This also ensures that end users have devices pre-configured for them out of the box and can only access the applications and information that their employer wants them to use.
Each device is pre-installed with the SOTI Mobile Device Management platform, enabling remote management of the devices to set up user profiles, ensure appropriate use and keep software up to date. They are secured by the Samsung Knox platform so that even if a device is lost, patient information is secure. This was underlined on one occasion when a lost phone was located by police, who commented that even their specialists were unable to access information on the device.
Amanda says: “We needed to give our carers devices that were going to stand up to the rigorous environmental challenges they face every day – like working around heat or water in a kitchen, or being carried in snow or bad weather. Military grade XCover devices that are affordable but very rugged made total sense to us.
Samsung Knox really wraps a very tight security layer around the devices, and with a Mobile Device Management system on top you have got multiple layers of security. That’s really important to us in a regulated industry where information governance is a contractual point that we must meet, and one that we are measured against by the Care Quality Commission. Most importantly, to protect our patients’ information if someone does lose a phone, we are very confident in the security that exists on those devices.
The partnership between Onecom and City & County Group has enabled a rapid digitisation of the care it provides, to the benefit of thousands of service users. Amanda was impressed by the speed of the adoption of new technology by her teams of carers, and believes the close relationship between the two partners, the ease of use of the devices and the reassurance offered by Samsung Knox have been key elements in delivering the project successfully.
She also sees a future where technology plays an even greater part in enhancing care, for example through integration of health care records across multiple care providers, and the use of 5G-enabled smart home technology to alert carers to potential health issues in service users.
She says: “Because our staff could see the value, because it empowered them and gave them the right information at exactly the right time, their willingness to change their processes to adopt a digital platform was a lot higher than we expected. You need to have to have a partner that is customer service focused. Onecom were able to deliver that in a way that some of the larger partners and resellers just couldn't offer to us. A good vendor is sensitive to your business objectives. They understand what it is that you're trying to deliver, and they're bought into that mission with you. They also need to be commercially aligned.
“Samsung and Onecom brought all of that for us into a package and as we scaled quickly they have always been adaptive and agile. They were just absolutely key to delivering for us. “
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Samsung and Onecom brought all of that for us into a package and as we scaled quickly they have always been adaptive and agile. They were just absolutely key to delivering for us.