The concept of patient relationship management (PRM) isn’t new: it refers to the effective use of data and knowledge to improve understanding of, and service to, each patient. But, thanks to a new range of technologies, PRM is breaking out from complex, expensive and trust-based systems to individual healthcare professionals in community settings. Sally Whittle finds out more.
Delivering high quality patient care is an ongoing challenge against the backdrop of aggressive spending and performance targets. It would help for NHS teams to have a single, accurate view of each patient, and their journey through each healthcare pathway. The right data at the right time for the right patient reduces errors, minimises overstays and re-admissions, and allows all participants in the care process to work together for shared outcomes. The discipline of using patient data systems to support this process has come to be called patient relationship management (PRM).
Technology, of course, can transform patient relationship management, particularly using mobile technology to allow healthcare professionals to capture and record information…
- at the bedside rather than on terminals at the nurses’ workstation
- in the community rather than only in trust properties
- and across multiple offices or campuses
Replacing paper-based processes with mobile data management reduces duplication, improves accuracy and can reduce costs significantly – research from Boston Consulting Group demonstrates that mobile technology can reduce data collection costs in healthcare by 24%.
There is also growing evidence that patient outcomes improve with the use of mobile healthcare technology. Boston Consulting reports that costs in elderly care can be reduced by 25% using mobile healthcare, while it can contribute to extraordinary reductions in maternal and perinatal mortality of up to 30%. Using mobile technology in rural settings means twice as many patients can be reached per doctor, while compliance with treatment plans for chronic conditions such as tuberculosis are improved by up to 70%.
Taking PRM out and about
When Torbay Care Trust implemented a mobile healthcare solution based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the result was a 20% improvement in productivity. The Trust, which has a large mobile workforce, uses Microsoft Dynamics’ scheduling engine to schedule and track appointments with its team of matrons and the rest of the community healthcare team.
Community staff can access electronic appointments and assessment forms using mobile devices, with information automatically saved to the main Dynamics record when the matron returns to the office. As soon as mobile data is imported into the main system, specific follow-up actions may be automatically triggered – including scheduling next-steps appointments, requesting input from other teams, or sending alerts to a GP about changes in a patient’s condition.
The PRM system reduces admin and improves patient care, says Isobel Knight, a community matron in Torbay. “I can look at a patient’s record, see what happened on the last visit, and hit the ground running. I look more competent, and the patient is more confident,” she says.
Familiar look and feel – on familiar devices One key benefit of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform in a clinical setting is the familiar interface. Staff who have previously used Microsoft Outlook or Word will find the platform very intuitive, and quickly become confident using the application. The system can also be used online and offline, making it ideal even where there is no mobile network coverage.
With the latest version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM, healthcare organisations will be able to deliver powerful mobile PRM applications to virtually any user. Dynamics now offers a cloud-based, cross platform mobile client that can be accessed via Windows Phone 7, iPhone, Android and BlackBerry mobile devices. The latest Microsoft Dynamics CRM Service Update also delivers enhanced social functionality and enterprise-class features including support for multiple web browsers. The result is a PRM platform that can run on virtually any mobile device. This is critical given the growing trend towards consumerised IT and “bring-your-own” policies, where organisations allow staff to use their own device in a workplace setting – a trend which is finally becoming a reality even in the strict environment of NHS IT.
PRM in your pocket
For customers, the ability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM to support multiple devices will be hugely important, says Philip Rawlinson, Dynamics Health Solutions Lead for Microsoft UK. “What we are seeing within the NHS is a growing need for healthcare professionals to access information on the move, whether it’s mobilizing staff or serving those already on the road,” he says. “Mobile healthcare also has the potential to transform the patient experience, with the ability to send patients SMS reminders for appointments, or using SMS to help manage medication concordance.”
Rawlinson believes the next big development in mobile healthcare will be using smartphones in more sophisticated ways to help patients manage their own health status, with Dynamics offering support with features such as multi-browser support, on- and offline working, and enterprise-class security. “Just around the corner is a virtuous circle. On the one hand, patients will use their smartphones for ever more personalised health management – whether that’s which pills to take or details of when their next appointment might be. On the other, PRM allows day-to-day clinical administration to improve to a degree that healthcare organisations and individuals become partners in personal health.”