HEALTHCARE | UNITED KINGDOM | 4500 USERS
Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust serves a local population of around 270,000 people in Walsall (United Kingdom) and surrounding areas. It operates from some 30 sites ranging from the multi-disciplinary Manor Hospital providing acute healthcare services, through to community-based locations such as Health Centres and GP surgeries.
Few institutions in a community have a higher profile and more connections than a hospital. Everyone has either been there, has a family member cared for there, or knows someone who works there. Since 1928, but with a heritage going back to 1896, Walsall’s Manor Hospital has served its community of 270,000 residents. Amongst the hospital’s 4,500 clinical and non-clinical employees, pride of their place in the community is high.
The small communications team at the Trust found a way to engage productively and interactively with both groups through harnessing market-leading technology and deploying LiveTiles Reach.
An employee survey was undertaken which confirmed the Executive Team’s concerns. A third of respondents said they didn’t have a good understanding about what was happening within the Trust day-to-day. The main communications tool was an email newsletter known as the ‘Daily Dose’, which was static, hard to analyse and mainly read by desk-based staff. Only a third of staff read the email daily, with a quarter of estates and facilities not reading it at all. The appetite for a dynamic, modern mobile app was certainly there – 90% of respondents supported it.
Sally Evans, Director of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement was concerned about how communications were getting through, if at all, to hard-pressed employees and acknowledged the need to harness technology to deliver a solution.
“It was of paramount importance to our organisation that we found a way to reach those traditionally ‘seldom-seen’ staff groups who didn’t always have the time or computer access to receive important information. Most staff do have smartphones however and the Reach app allows instant and convenient two-way interaction. It also provides us with the assurance that this can be achieved in a secure and compliant way, integrating with our existing Office 365 infrastructure.”
The COVID-19 pandemic created unfathomable pressures on the National Health Service, and on local Trusts such as Walsall Healthcare. Not only did the hospital experience an influx of very ill patients, but the day-to-day business of the institution was dispersed with little notice as non-clinical staff were required to work from their homes. However, many roles such as shift workers and support staff were needed to keep services and facilities operational and resilient.
While the principal goal was to implement an interactive, compelling and responsive communications channel for internal staff, a number of additional benefits have emerged, principally the development of LiveTiles Reach for an external audience.
It was a by-product of the requirement to have the Reach solution easily available to staff via the Apple and Google Play app stores. The rule for these stores was that applications were required to have some element that was of value to the public, and so a Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust branded, non-password protected user experience was developed.
From being almost an afterthought, the Trust is now considering the public version as an ideal way to get information out to its local population in addition to its website and social media platforms.
In addition to interactive news content, Walsall Healthcare’s Reach deployment offers additional benefits to users such as the ability for both mobile ‘push’ notifications and Microsoft Teams alerts, an events function, an integrated staff directory and service-specific information. An idea currently in development is to use Reach as a component to support the Trust’s emergency planning and response function. As Steven notes, “In the event of a serious incident or technology failure, we have great reliance on our internal telephony and IT systems. However, using cloud-based technology such as Reach provides additional resilience and makes the platform an exciting prospect for our emergency communications planning.”