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Plain Healthcare

Plain Healthcare is a patient-driven company that provides rapid, safe assessment and advice for primary and urgent care through Odyssey and PathFinderRF – the company’s clinical decision support solutions. Trading for 17 years and carrying out around 20 million consultations in the health care industry, Plain Healthcare has recently branched out into the care home sector. The company has 30 virtual offices with 36 employees who work on a mobile basis, many of whom are part-time.

Tim Morris, Managing Director, explains how Cobweb’s Hosted Desktop solution is helping the company expand...

It’s no secret: the quality and management of care for vulnerable, elderly residents in care homes is under scrutiny due to growing concerns from friends, families and the Care Quality Commission. There’s also a need for the health service to manage the needs of the growing number of elderly people more effectively and proactively to avoid the costs associated with emergency and urgent care.

Plain Healthcare has developed a hosted software solution that underlines the importance of proactive care for the elderly in residential and nursing homes. What’s more, with Cobweb’s help, it’s becoming even more of a success amongst users.

The software itself, Odyssey CareAssess, supports the assessment and treatment of any condition presented by an elderly resident in a care home, enabling nurses or non-clinical care workers to assess the resident’s condition before calling out a doctor or emergency ambulance.

Benefiting patients by preventing delays in medical attention and reducing the distress, risks of infection and disorientation of unnecessary visits to the emergency department, the assessment software allows care workers and nurses to determine the urgency of the illness, how quickly the patient needs to be seen by a doctor and whether the patient is high dependency or seriously ill. For those with minor conditions identified by the software, Odyssey CareAssess provides relevant, simple advice and instructions that care staff can follow, including guidance on when to reassess the patient’s condition.

The Challenge

A key aspect of Odyssey CareAssess is to provide care workers and nurses the ability to undertake the assessment directly at a resident’s bedside or where they are sitting, whether they are living in a care home or sheltered housing environment. Consequently, the application needs to be mobile.

Prior to its launch, Plain Healthcare completed a trial of the software on slate computers running Windows 7, installed locally with data stored on a proprietary database.

From an IT perspective, it was found that many of the care staff users weren’t very technically minded and therefore needed a solution that would be easy to set up without the need for additional training. Another issue that surfaced was the lack of support available with certain devices:

“We had a problem sourcing the devices we were using and also found that potential customers had the desire to use our software on their iPads and android tablets, which we were unable to support in standalone technologies. Besides, we also didn’t have the resources at that time to develop a native iPad app.”

In addition to this and due to the sensitivity of the data, the product team also knew a standalone option could be perceived as a less secure environment. Records sitting in one location are at risk of getting lost or stolen and this could lead to a crisis of confidence.

The Solution

Having thoroughly assessed the situation, Tim realised a hosted solution was the only viable alternative. He’d heard of Hosted Desktop before and had previously thought about going down that route, but the technology was still in its infancy. As the technology became available, he knew exactly who to call:

“I’d already had dealings with Cobweb and introduced Plain Healthcare to their services when I joined the company in 2008. Back then I’d turned to Cobweb for their Hosted Exchange solution and I’ve had confidence in them ever since, so they were the first port of call in helping me find the solution I needed.”

Having spoken to Matt Hall, Cobweb’s Sales Executive, about the possibilities that were available to him, Tim was satisfied Hosted Desktop would solve the issues Plain Healthcare had been faced with – it was the ideal solution:

“By using Cobweb’s Hosted Desktop solution with our software, we’ve been able to remove the majority of difficulties in supplying expert clinical systems to environments with no internal IT. This has given us the freedom to focus on expanding our sales within the residential care home sector.”
One of the main benefits Tim found using Hosted Desktop was the peace of mind it brought him in terms of security. Patient records are stored in secure primary and secondary data centres with perimeter and server-level protection including daily backup:

“The security aspect was extremely appealing; now that I know customer clinical health assessments are secure and backed up, I can relax and leave it up to the professionals at Cobweb.”

And this also strengthens the possibility for mobile working:

“The mobile ability is a key benefit to the whole solution. Care workers and nurses can now sit at the patient’s bedside, using their iPads or other devices to access the assessment software without having to leave the patient’s side.”

The Cobweb Experience

Tim had scheduled two weeks for Plain Healthcare to go through the onboarding process – and it went seamlessly. Summing up the experience to be “very positive with true flexibility of services and pricing that can be offered on a monthly basis”, Tim already recommends Cobweb’s services to other partners and customers.

He also added:

“With Cobweb Hosted Desktop, we are now planning to branch out beyond care homes and soon we hope to enable patients to be assessed within the comfort of their own homes and surroundings.”

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