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Innovative Communications Tool Doctors Wins Major Backing Trust

15 December 2008

A new online system which helps NHS organisations communicate with their staff, launched by two junior doctors from Bristol, has won backing from University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust.

The DocCom project started three years ago, originally to tackle communications problems between NHS Trusts and Deaneries and their junior doctors.  DocCom is a portal combining web, mobile, email and social networking technology to target appropriate communication to relevant people at the right time.  It provides a single point of access for information for junior doctors for their training, development and work and allows a mechanism for them to feed back to their organisation.  It also allows doctors to communicate with each other.

Founders Dr Jonathan Bloor and Dr Jonathan Shaw hit on the idea of setting up the system when they saw for themselves the challenges facing NHS organisations, which need to keep in regular contact with a highly mobile workforce.

Dr Bloor explains: There are more than 50,000 junior doctors in the UK who are employed on a semi-permanent basis and rotate between hospital specialties, hospital sites and between Trusts as frequently as every three months.  They have no base and are a mobile work force.  Acute Trusts and Deaneries struggle to keep tabs on where their doctors are what they are doing and how to communicate with them.  This is compounded by the complexity of the NHS and the multiple bodies involved in the management and training of doctors. 

We surveyed all the medical directors of acute Trusts in England and had a 50% response rate.  90 per cent of respondents said they could not communicate effectively with their junior doctors.

"This communication problem really impacts on efficiency and patient care and our vision is to create an NHS wide communication network linking NHS organisations with their staff.  Although this system was originally designed to aid communication with junior doctors, it can be used to improve links with all staff.

Following a successful pilot for junior doctors at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust and, with the help of the Trust and NHS Innovations South West, a spin-out company was formed with the Trust as a major shareholder.

Dr Graham Rich, Chief Executive of University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, says: This is an important project that I believe will benefit the wider NHS. It has changed and improved how we communicate with the junior doctors for the benefit of our patients.

The DocCom portal has now been successfully introduced at the Severn Deanery. 

Mr Davinder Sandhu, Dean, Severn Deanery, adds: We chose DocCom because their system was designed by trainees themselves with a special emphasis on communication between trainees.