Ben Jones, NHS Client Director at Trustmarque, explains how the NHS can maximise efficiency and provide better patient care, without depleting existing resources

Today’s NHS is challenged when it comes to meeting ever stricter performance targets while coping with cut budgets.  There are many areas of the NHS that need to run smoothly at all times but which go under the radar of doctors, nurses and patients – namely the IT infrastructure and all that goes with it. This includes guaranteeing access to relevant, timely and up-to-date information, reliable and up-to-date communications systems, effective and efficient back office hospital operations such as payroll, staffing, rotas and more.

The NHS doesn’t have the resources to ensure that all of these systems are running at full capacity, check whether they are being maximised to their full extent or even be aware of when new hardware and software versions are launched, meaning new licensing agreements need to be drawn up to ensure all estates are fully compliant. Our National Health Service can (and should) really only focus on ensuring patients’ lives are saved, that doctors and nurses can continue to offer healthcare services to patients across the UK, while attempting to meet quotas and KPIs.

You might even say that hospitals nowadays are running at survival rate, focusing purely on trying to complete all tasks and save lives. Few NHS employees have the time or headspace to consider looking for opportunities where savings can be made on licences by upgrading to a new system in time for support for an existing one being made redundant. Why would they, when they can instead rejig rotas and appointments, source more medicine and beds to give patients the healthcare they deserve?

Well, fortunately or unfortunately, technology plays a major role in patient care nowadays. One example of this is Scarborough Acute NHS Trust, which managed to reduce its mortality rate with our consultancy and guidance in selecting a business intelligence platform that could spot anomalies for staff to act upon.

Another example is ensuring that all computers have the latest software updates and also the support needed. With new versions such as Microsoft Windows 8 coming into effect, older operating systems will be taken off the shelf, and with them, all support. This means that, for basic office functions to work, all NHS trusts need to be upgraded in time too.

We will be at ehi LIVE 2012 in Birmingham to elaborate further on some of our work and emphasise the importance of technology to the eHealth community. Do stop by and visit us at Stand E50.

It’s vital that the NHS rely on trusted partners who can provide the consultancy and support needed to make sure they continue operating at full speed and capacity at all times, while ensuring they are future-proofed and can evolve with changing technological developments.

By Ben Jones, NHS Client Director at Trustmarque