NHS tests NFC for home care visits

The UK’s National Health Service is conducting several pilots of O2’s new Homecare solution, designed to help both homecare workers and patients access and share information.

NHS TEST: Several PCTs are trialling O2's NFC-based Homecare system, which offers patient benefits as well as monitoring carer attendance
NHS TEST: Several PCTs are trialling O2's NFC-based Homecare system, which offers patient benefits as well as monitoring carer attendance

A new NFC-based home care monitoring solution developed by mobile operator O2 in conjunction with Reslink, an established Finnish supplier of NFC-based workforce management solutions, is now on trial with several National Health Service customers in the UK.

O2 Homecare is aimed at the NHS’ regional Primary Care Trusts — responsible for running local medical services — and related care organisations and is designed to help domiciliary care workers and patients access and share information.

O2 and Reslink are working with EcoTech, a provider of sustainable homes, to incorporate NFC tags as standard into their energy efficient housing.

Using O2 Homecare, carers can download patient records and care requirements by swiping their NFC-enabled handset over NFC tags installed in the patient’s home. The solution also captures real-time information on care provided to the patient and logs the care workers’ whereabouts when making house calls for enhanced security and compliance. Data is relayed to central host systems and logged for electronic time and attendance records, eliminating the need for verbal or paper documentation and helping to save care organisations time and operational expense.

O2 Homecare patients need only touch their mobile phone to the NFC tag installed in their home to bring up details of their care worker’s next visit or their next medical appointment. Call backs and appointments can also be requested quickly and easily by touching the patient’s phone to an NFC tag. The patient can then select their preferred options from a drop down menu which appears on the handset.

Alert tags can also be strategically placed within easy reach of the patient in case of emergency. When the patient touches their mobile phone to this tag the handset will automatically initiate and alert transaction and dial a predetermined number.

NFC tags can also be placed on medicine bottles, allowing patients to identify prescription details by touching their phone to the bottle. The tag may be linked to a special medication dispenser with a pre-set release capability and authorisation procedures based on the patient’s prescription.

In addition, NFC tags may be placed on equipment in the home, such as the hot water and heating system, the thermostat, the oven or a chairlift. The patient would then simply touch their phone to the tag to bring up details such as the model type, when the product was last serviced and by whom. The patient can also report a fault with the equipment or request a service appointment using their handset.

“The development of an NFC-based home care solution shows the real in-roads we are making in the health sector,” says Ben Dowd, O2’s business sales director. “We know our customers don’t want a one-size-fits-all mobile communications package and this demonstrates how well new technology can benefit both workers and patients in the health sector.”

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