Western Cape Emergency Management Services benefit from WhatsApp Platform for Performance Monitoring
September 17, 2014

Globally, Performance Management is a challenge for all emergency ambulance services, including in South Africa due to its vast geographical spread. To maximise available resources, the Western Cape Government Department of Health has implemented a range of initiatives to improve and monitor the performance of staff and services delivered by Emergency Medical Services across the province.

The Western Cape Government EMS Service operates 6 emergency control centres and has in excess of 3,000 staff and 500 operational ambulances as well as aircraft, helicopters and buses in its operational fleet. Although the EMS Service has a province-wide private Cloud through which it operates a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, due to diverse operational conditions, the Performance Management of each control centre and operational area has many challenges.

Following the implementation of a new state-of-the-art CAD system from Valentia Technologies in the EMS Service earlier this year control centre managers have been experiencing the considerable benefits of real-time performance data. Whilst availability of real-time data has already delivered numerous operational and service improvements, due to the vast geographical spread of operational areas covered by the EMS Service, collaboration between various control centre managers continues to be predominantly based on wireless (VHF & Tetra), phone, text and email communication.

Although these modes of communication are highly effective, the EMS Service recognises that they are not as user-friendly as compared to social instant messaging applications, such as WhatsApp, BBM, Skype and Viber, which control room staff are increasingly using in their daily lives. In recent years staff had also been gradually increasing informal use of instant messaging applications to communicate about performance management and other service matters.

In acknowledgement of the increasing use of the WhatsApp application by control room staff, the EMS Service decided that its use as a means of communication be formalised, while also ensuring that it remained flexible and that communication exchanges remained private and no personal or identifiable operational information would be shared.

The EMS Service therefore approached Valentia Technologies and implementation partner Dimension Data to automate the transmission of Performance Management data using the WhatsApp platform to facilitate private chat groups between control centres managers.

Following successful initial trails, the new mode of distributing Performance Management data, which is now formalised, is proving to be highly popular, as control centre managers are now in receipt of hourly performance updates via WhatsApp. Even off-duty managers are able to monitor their control centres, and effortlessly use instant messaging for collaboration, without having to lift a wireless handset or open a laptop. The use of instant messaging around Performance Management data is also fostering a healthy rivalry between control centres in terms of responding to performance-related issues.

“It appears that most of our control room managers are faster typing on smartphones than on their laptops. In fact, we are already considering broadcasting additional KPI’s in real-time to a wider set of stakeholders as well as also using WhatsApp as a communication channel with the citizens of Western Cape” said Dr. Shaheem de Vries, Director Western Cape Government EMS.

Control centre manager, Mr Andries Titus, said “personally I am not a fan of Facebook or Apps but I must admit that the simplicity of WhatsApp communication has won me over as it is so simple to use, yet so powerful. “

Fellow control centre manager, Mr Norman Baartman added “in reality EMS managers are seldom off duty. The benefit for me is that even when I am not on duty I can keep an eye on events, and people around me do not know that I am chatting about work, as I do not have to open a laptop or use my Tetra wireless radio.”

For further information:
Contact Peter Nelson on +353 1 493 7624 or Email: info@valentiatech.com or visit: www.valentiatech.com