Embedding digital applications into clinical provision can offer untold improvements in patient safety and outcomes, but it needs to be done properly.
By law, each NHS provider trust in England must appoint a clinical safety officer (CSO) who works to ensure that each new use of technology meets a defined set of clinical standards.
Clinical Safety Officers have a vital role in ensuring digital innovations are adopted within NHS organisations as safely and effectively as possible.
But as with many areas of the health sector, the Coronavirus pandemic has placed a heavy strain on the workloads of these individuals, as the number of new digital solutions adopted by provider trusts has mushroomed.
To add to this strain, many of those who act as a trust’s responsible CSO also fulfil a separate leadership role within their own medical discipline.
A combination of this capacity shortage and a broader lack of awareness around information governance issues among the workforce on the wards brings real-world consequences for patients and their data.
For example, the use of WhatsApp may be fine for organising a local darts tournament, but it is absolutely not a safe tool for sharing cardiology images.
Through our work empowering health and care organisations to improve care by harnessing the power of technology, we’ve helped raise awareness of the fact that seemingly simple digital tools can expose security weaknesses and clinical risk that must be mitigated.
The app that stores patient data on servers outside of the UK can pose an easy target for those wanting to use the data for malicious purposes. The digital tool for measuring a patient’s vital signs that doesn’t integrate with local GP systems, but on its own proprietary database – these can all place a patient’s data or care journey at risk.
Ensuring each digital solution complies with multiple national and international standards may be time-consuming, but it is incredibly important. Strong clinical risk management not only fulfils a key compliance role, but it can embed a much stronger culture of safety within a health and social care organisation.
By bringing on board experienced clinical safety professionals as and when needed, provider trusts can help address capacity shortages that would otherwise cause delays, inefficiencies, or safety risks in assuring the rollout of a new system.
Channel 3 works in partnership with ETHOS to give health and care providers the opportunity to embed that culture change through our clinical safety officer-as-a-service offering.
ETHOS provides clinical safety officers who are suitably qualified and highly experienced health care practitioners (nurses and AHPs). They work with the strengths of your team, systems and processes to ensure solutions are practical, efficient and become part of business as usual. Culture change is a core element of successful safety systems driving efficiency and it provides reassurance to your customers and end-users.
Our partners take a great deal of pride in working with providers to embed that safety culture and leaving those organisations in a sustainable position to properly manage the integration of new tools into their clinical systems.