Healthcare is more digital than ever. This means clinicians can work smarter and provide a better experience for patients. But this growing need is also putting IT departments under pressure.
For GPs to offer ‘virtual appointments’ over video calls, helping them treat more people each day, they need a network they can rely on. For medics to access online patient records to have access rights. While remote monitoring means patients can spend less time in the hospital. But the IT team need to spend longer making sure the connected sensors work.
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust realised its medical staff could only work at their best if the IT team could too. So to help tackle the rise in digital demand, we upgraded the trust’s IT team to a cloud-based contact centre. Making it easier for them to fix IT issues fast, spot problems ahead of time and work more cost-effectively. So the trust can spend more time providing the best possible care for patients.
Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys Trust provides mental health and learning disability services. It needs constant connectivity to make sure its people can work together across 100 sites stretching from York to Durham.
On top of managing the trust’s network, its IT team has to meet the individual needs of each staff member. And these varied not only by place but by the mental health department they worked in. This ranged from eating disorders to older people’s services, so every clinician might need access to different files and applications.
To manage any problems, the IT team ran a service desk. Medical staff would email with their request, then the helpdesk could call them back to get more information. But the contact centre they used had limits. It didn’t have the flexibility to integrate with other solutions. And it couldn’t adapt during peak times, such as when hundreds of medical students joined the trust each August. Each new starter would need a log-in and a new device. While existing students would also need their access rights changed at the same time, as they moved from one department to another as part of their training.
“For us, time is patient care. That’s the best way to put it. I can’t afford to have people waiting 20 minutes in a queue, because I’ve got problems with the system, which means my analysts can’t pick the call up.”
All this puts extra strain on the IT team, which made it harder for them to deal with any unexpected issues. This meant medics might have to wait longer to have their computer problems fixed. And this could impact patient treatment.
When Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys found out the platform its service desk ran on was shutting down, the trust decided to act. Rather than settling for a quick fix, it decided to find a solution that would empower the IT team to work faster and more flexibly.
Our close working relationship with the trust made all the difference. Having worked with the IT team for years, we already understood their needs. While they knew we had the expertise to design and deliver the best solution at speed.
It also helped that we’d previously installed One Cloud Cisco. This advanced system didn’t just meet all the trust’s telephony needs. It was also one of a set of clouds tools we offer that work independently or can be easily combined.
BT were very flexible in supporting us [...] And that alleviates some of that initial pressure by going, ‘Right, we can put together a clear migration plan now.
Cloud Contact Next Generation (CCNG) was another one of these tools. This contact centre gives the service desk greater control over its calls. So the trust can prioritise which calls are more important and make sure they’re assigned to the most qualified member of the helpdesk team.
And as CCNG works in the cloud, the solution’s fully scalable with no limits to the number of users. Making it easier for the trust to adapt to seasonal peaks, such as onboarding new medical students each summer, as well as the wider increase in digital demand as it adopts new technologies.Our team managed every step of the installation.
This meant the IT team were free to focus on making sure the trust had everything it needed to take care of patients. While our experience meant that the solution was up and running before the old contact centre shut down, avoiding any disruption.
The IT service desk is now running better than ever. With CCNG, they can easily put new queues and workflows in place to keep up with demand. And they can make more informed decisions about how they should provide their services and spot network problems early based on reports.
“Knowing that we’ve got the ability [...] in the system to do that means as our business changes, or as our systems change, I can build in the flexibility in the technology to manage routing the demands of that.”
As CCNG works with One Cloud Cisco, it was easy to also integrate Microsoft Teams and use the collaboration tool’s – including video and instant messaging – to talk through people’s IT issues. This means clinicians spend less time trying to get their devices fixed and more time with patients. And they have full access to all their digital tools to make more informed decisions and provide higher quality care. While the trust knows that our support team can help with any wider network issues.
Based on this success, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys is now considering rolling out the contact centre to the corporate side of the business, making it quicker to manage HR and finance communications. The IT service desk is also looking at expanding their service to use chatbots, so digital-savvy medical staff could get support any way they want, at any time.