May 17, 2020

Seamless Wi-Fi connectivity is enhancing the patient experience

healthcare services
Digital health
Matt O’Donovan, founder and CE...
4 min
In under a week’s time the NHS will mark its 70th birthday; celebrating the world-first national healthcare service which brought accessible General P...

In under a week’s time the NHS will mark its 70th birthday; celebrating the world-first national healthcare service which brought accessible General Practices, hospitals and community care to the British public.

NHS Trusts have made incredible strides for the patient experience as they deliver high-quality care in a safe environment. However, as well as ground breaking healthcare, today’s Trusts should also focus on creating a digital setting which is in line with patients’ expectations. Innovative, state-of-the-art Wi-Fi is the key to ensuring patients have the best hospital experience.

The NHS Digital Mandate confirms that digital technology is central to plans for an enhanced patient experience and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Trusts are working towards the 2019 deadline for free Wi-Fi implementation across the whole NHS estate. In this crucial latter phase of the roll-out, the remaining hospitals and secondary care providers might seek more agile, cost-effective service providers who can implement superior Wi-Fi solutions swiftly and efficiently. Furthermore, a Wi-Fi provider which can offer bespoke digital solutions will enable Trusts to maximise their patient engagement.

Healthcare venues help a variety of patients of all ages and abilities, and naturally a Trust’s WiFi provider should be flexible and scalable to the requirements of different users. Installing a solution which is user-friendly, can support the high volume of patient, guest and staff users and provide thorough content filtering should be the basic requirements.

In addition, patients want the ability to communicate easily with loved ones, stream entertainment services such as TV, films and audiobooks, access social media sites, apps and general information online. Trusts need to go beyond an internet connection to meet patient expectations and offer a seamless solution which bridges the gap between hospital and home.

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A fully-branded Wi-Fi solution will connect patients and guests to a unique User Experience when they login. The User Experience functions as a personalised Trust portal to all the information and services patients may want to make their stay easier, from checking into appointments, navigating around the hospital and even ordering meals.

Staying connected brings great emotional benefits and mental stimulation for patients. Wi-Fi-enabled messaging services and social media gives patients a vital link to friends and family outside of the hospital and has a significant impact on aiding recovery times. Equally, this connection keeps loved ones informed on a patient’s progress and means users can simply keep up with daily life, whether that is remote working or studying.

A Wi-Fi solution which supports patients streaming programmes and films directly to their device not only provides amusement but means patients do not have to rely on ward televisions which increases their independence. For young visitors this entertainment access can be particularly valuable: they can enjoy the escapism of a great TV series and discuss the latest episode with friends.

Often patients feel as though their health is out of their control. By investing in an optimised digital experience, Trusts can return some of that control to patients, empowering them which also benefits staff members by freeing up their time.

Wi-Fi provides much more than connectivity. Trusts can harness the power of intelligent analytics to build a more holistic view of the patient profile and better understand how to meet expectations. A fully-managed Wi-Fi solution provides constructive insight on how users are engaging with the Wi-Fi, from the devices used, to the number of sessions and bandwidth usage as well as more sophisticated analytics such as location or survey results. Trusts can make the most of this data to pinpoint which aspects of the patient experience need improvement. 

The evolution of NHS Trusts and patient care is inseparable from digital technology. Today’s patients can benefit from the latest Wi-Fi connectivity and stay connected at all times, whether it is a check-up or longer hospital stay. Patients do not want to feel like patients, they want the choice to find information themselves, to easily communicate with loved ones and relax with their favourite audiobook or TV programme. Trusts should look towards agile SMEs to deliver a unique, digital experience and create a hospital environment which enables patients to feel empowered. 

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May 13, 2021

Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech

3 min
We take a look at homecare software startup Birdie, who are aiming to transform elderly care in the UK

British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business. 

The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing. 

Birdie was born with a mission to  "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront.  The company was founded by Max Parmentier,  after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option. 

In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to  set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater. 

Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients. 

The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.

In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.

Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.

These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards. 

“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said. 

"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.” 

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