Divide and conquer

A hospital in Derbyshire has been reaping the benefits of a new cleaning rota.  Using an idea gleaned from overseas, the Royal Derby Hospital split its cleaning workforce into teams, each responsible for specific areas such as corridors or toilets.  Previously a single cleaner had been responsible for an entire ward or area of the hospital.

The new system of team cleaning by area has lead to a reduction in cross-infections, traditionally a pre-cursor of the need to close wards for deep cleaning.  In fact this new working pattern has been so successful that the hospital has been put forward for two Nursing times awards including the Golden Service award.

Hospital bosses have also found that by using teams rather than a succession of individuals, cleaning patterns are more flexible.  This in turn has reduced the incidence of wasted cleaning processes, such as cleaning a patient area just before a patient is due to be discharged as well as ensuring teams are on hand in case an emergency clean is required.

The story is a perfect example of the way in which those at the forefront of health provision are finding ways to work smarter rather than harder.  For example many health providers are looking to make savings by replacing follow up appointments with telephone calls or using the phone to make routine check-ups on those with ongoing problems.

It has to be acknowledged that telephone coaching is not universally successful if used in isolation as a study by UK researchers revealed earlier in August.  They concluded that telephone coaching of those with long term conditions is not effective unless it is carried out as part of an integrated system of care.

Health professionals too are using this “divide and conquer” principle to maximise patient treatment time and minimise disruptions.  Simply by outsourcing their phone answering to a virtual assistant service, health professionals can ensure that their phones will be answered, appointments made and reminders sent out whilst the health professional can concentrate on treating their patients.  With no need to interrupt a treatment to answer the phone and no missed calls, professionals such as osteopaths, chiropractors and others can provide a more streamlined and efficient service to their patients.

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