3rd February 2020

Mobile Working in Occupational Health

Smartphones and mobile connectivity are transforming how we live, work and communicate. But the need for absolute data security and client confidentiality has up to now proved something of a stumbling block for occupational health (OH). However, this is starting to change as new products come on to the market, as Martyn Lawson outlines

Did you know that more than a third of smartphone users look at their devices within five minutes of waking up?

Moreover, according to Deloitte’s annual Mobile Consumer Survey, more than half of people (55%) admit to seeking out their smartphones within a quarter of an hour. Equally telling is the finding that 79% of us check our smartphones within the final hour before going to sleep.

Mobile connectivity has, it is clear, transformed how we live, interact and communicate in recent years, both at home and at work. But what about the effect this digital transformation is having, and will increasingly have in the future, on occupational health and wellbeing as an industry?

Four years ago, in the Occupational Health and Wellbeing Magazine two of the leading experts in the field, Andy Phillips, director of The Health and Work Consultancy, and OH consultant Greta Thornbory, discussed how mobile phones could bring potential benefits to the industry.

But neither could have predicted the revolution inaccessibility and functionality we have seen in recent years, a revolution that we would argue has the potential to transform how OH practitioners work, diagnose, intervene, manage, track, record and communicate.

Of course, there are already many workplace health-based apps available on the market, ranging from (to cite just two) the “noise sniffer” through to the “fatigue predictor”.

Mobile Functionality

But for us, as a technology company, this is just scratching the surface of the potential. At the May 2018 International Commission on Occupational Health in Dublin, we launched a product – OPAS-G2 – that we believe takes mobile functionality to another level for OH practitioners.

OPAS-G2 offers occupational health practitioners the ability to bring together and manage the myriad and often disparate elements of occupational health management data via their mobile phones, something that has been out of reach until now.

The genesis behind the product is that we were getting regular customer feedback – from OH professionals working in the field – asking for ways to extrapolate data more easily so as to enable them to gain information quickly. OH practitioners will often, of course, be working off-site or in a peripatetic way, and so being able to streamline data gathering and management while on the go can be invaluable.

OPAS-G2 is, we believe, the world’s most intuitive and technologically-advanced cloud-based occupational health software, packed with all the essential features an occupational health practitioner needs.

But what, I hear you ask, about security, especially in the post-GDPR world?

We’ve addressed this by teaming up with IT giant IBM, whose Cloud hosting is widely recognised as being one of the most secure and resilient platforms in the world via which to store data.

OPAS-G2 is delivered on the IBM cloud and therefore builds on the latest technology “stack” in terms of languages, utilities and database functionality. It also enables full integration and synchronisation of diaries and electron apps for medical devices.

Specific GDPR Features

OPAS-G2 is designed by specific role and user needs, meaning the correct information can be delivered at the right time. The information each user requires is available to review, inspect, report and act upon, prompting them to make quicker and better-informed decisions.

When it comes to GDPR, there are specific features that assist users to be compliant, together with subject access request, retention policies, privacy notices, and processing restrictions, as well as standard edit and delete rights.

The dashboard and layout are intuitive, which means that OH practitioners will easily be able to access the information they want wherever they are and at the right time.

There is an “insights” feature that provides contextual information, such as automated trend analysis, training needs or records that require further attention. A further advantage of this type of software is that it updates automatically, so the user is always working on its latest version.

Undoubtedly, the evolution of mobile and digital technology has a long way to go yet; if anything, with “smart cities” and the next generation of mobile technology – 5G – over the horizon, the way we use and rely on mobile technologies and connectivity is set to accelerate. But for occupational health practitioners, we believe OPAS-G2 is an important and significant step-change in bringing mobile functionality to OH system and client management.

Martyn Lawson is Product and Technology Director for OPAS-G2 at Civica

Mobile Consumer Survey 2017: The UK cut – “State of the smart”, Deloitte September 2017. Available online at https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/mobile-consumer-survey.html

Occupational Health & Wellbeing May 2018