Business continuity - dealing with disaster through mobile working

Article posted on 2nd October 2017

Health and social care Corporate services

Dealing with disaster – why you should be merging mobile working with your business continuity plans

Have you ever been without access to your practice or clinical systems? It’s not something any of us want to be able to answer ‘yes’ to, but regrettably there are many that can.

If your ‘yes’ is accompanied by flashbacks of panic and anxiety, it’s likely that your business continuity (BC) plan wasn’t entirely up to scratch. And for those who are lucky enough to answer ‘no’ – there’s always the chance that you could be in the same situation one day.

While the stress that comes with an unexpected and disruptive event can’t be entirely eradicated, a well thought out BC and disaster recovery plan can go a long way in mitigating this stress. It’s not just you who’ll benefit either: a seamlessly executed plan means that you’ll be able to carry on providing patients with the support they need.

You may be part of an organisation that already has a comprehensive plan in place, and is ready for any event. But the likelihood is that there is probably more that you can do. 

Back to the drawing board 

That’s because GP practices generally aren’t the organisations with the most up-to-date BC systems. As David Coverdale, our senior consultant for business continuity points out, “The commercial sector is leading the charge in business resilience and is pointing the way for the public sector to follow.” 

Many of these private organisations understand that responses to events or disasters will need to be mobile, so that they can pick up and carry on from any place. That’s why modern mobile technology has been at the forefront of their BC plans. Already put in place in organisations like Technicolor and Marks & Spencer, it’s something that can prove useful for care providers too.  As David mentions, “We have to enable critical information and decisions to be available immediately and throughout a crisis. Deployment of apps and mobile devices will speed up recovery, reassure patients and may even save lives by providing this availability.”

Considering both the confidential information that healthcare providers hold and the absolute necessity of the services that they provide, this gap in the use of modern technologies needs to be addressed. That’s why we’re looking at specific situations across three core areas of BC – places, people and processes – to see how mobile technology can help to reduce the stress and disruption that comes with the unexpected.

Business Continuity - Places, People and Processes

Places

From fires and flooding to freak weather, there are plenty of unforeseen events that can knock out access to your practice. For many organisations this can spell chaos. But with certain mobile technologies in place, the disruption doesn’t have to be so extreme.

Key to keeping control in these situations is effective direction and contact of people. This can be done with systems like TheOneView, which gives you access to your real-time incident management information through your smartphone, and can be used to get in touch with key disaster recovery personnel, such as contractors or IT staff.

Your staff can also be supported with mobile working devices like Anywhere Consult that allow them to log on to EMIS Web or other clinical systems. It means that you can stay secure – since staff won’t have to log in to systems with their own personal devices – and allows clinicians to potentially provide care from other sites. And if those alternative sites have Practice Wi-Fi, your team can easily get online via a safe, NHS-compliant network.

You can also let patients know about their appointments – whether they’re rescheduled or at alternative premises – with these mobile devices, which provide you with quick access to patient details. Meanwhile, to make sure patients are sent to right place when calling your switchboard, you can use a cloud-based telephony system to easily redirect messages to mobile phones or alternative numbers.

People

While practice staff work tirelessly to help patients, there can be things like illnesses that are outside of their control and make them unable to work. Whether an infection or a stomach bug, it’s easy for sicknesses to quickly spread so that, suddenly, half of your workforce is out of action.

For those who have access to cloud-based back office systems like Intradoc247, this problem can be quickly managed. CCGs can use the centralised information stored in these systems to view staff calendars from across practices, in order to understand who is affected and who can help deal with the problem. So while staff at one practice might not be able to work, you can effectively redeploy other teams to carry on supporting patients. 

Processes

The final core area that needs consideration when it comes to BC is your processes. Most of the systems and solutions that support how you work have built-in reliability, but they will never be 100% infallible. After all, it’s not too difficult to imagine your IT system going down or your internet connection cutting out.

Mobile working devices work well here as they keep you connected, even when your normal means of connection isn’t available. By allowing you to get online and connect to the Transition Network (formerly known as N3) and the new Health and Social Care Network through a 4G or 3G connection, you can still access your clinical system and provide patients with consultations within practice.

But it’s not just faults within systems that can cause disruption to your processes – people can too. Whether a malicious act or accidental, devices can be made unavailable and put a spanner in your operations. However, there are systems that you can use to deal with this.

If a device is lost or stolen, mobile device management (MDM) on a system like Anywhere Consult means that you can remotely wipe data and disable access. Not only that, but you can send messages to the device to try and get it returned to its owner.

It’s also worth noting that some of these devices can prevent potential disasters to processes before they even happen, thanks to remote monitoring capabilities. With the ability to check on hardware and software, you can ensure that they’re always available, whether they’re used to support your BC operations or your everyday ones.

Better business continuity for better patient care

By looking at these three areas and understanding how you can use mobile solutions in different scenarios, you can work on improving your BC plans.

As David says: 

 

 

 

 

 

"It’s only sensible that advances in technology and systems are used to bring efficiency and effectiveness to the process of risk mitigation and response.”

David Coverdale

So while the private sector might be the ones currently leading the way, it’s not impossible for you to modernise your own schemes and become your own leaders in BC thanks to mobile working solutions. With these effective systems and devices to hand, you’ll be able to deal with a variety of scenarios and keep your services up and running – to the benefit of your patients’ health.

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Success Story

TheOneView - Marks and Spencer

Marks and Spencer now have a robust business continuity planning capabilities for improved efficiencies

  • Supporting with areas such as auditing BCM overseas.
  • Used by over 200 M&S members including Directors.
Read the case study

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