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Nervecentre Software

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A constituent of the Deloitte Fast 50 for the second year running, Wokingham-based Nervecentre Software has been a leading-edge developer of mobile applications for National Health Service (NHS) hospitals since 2010, offering clinicians better ways to manage and share patient information on their mobile devices. By allowing doctors and nurses instant access to a single real-time platform as they move around a hospital, they are able to communicate and collaborate more effectively and better leverage their resources.

Revolutionising healthcare processes is more relevant today than ever before, says Nervecentre Founder and CEO Paul Volkaerts, because it supports the NHS’ current focus on driving innovation and reducing costs.

“We are witnessing dramatic changes in the NHS and the emphasis on cost control is more intense than ever before,” he says. “Hospitals are looking to increase the quality of their services without an increased budget. This has both positive and negative consequences for businesses that service them. On the one hand, it is a market that is under pressure, but on the other, small businesses like ours have the opportunity to gain market share from larger and more expensive operators by helping to drive down costs.

While hospitals generally accept that mobile technology can help them perform better, what they increasingly want to understand is the business case, says Paul. This has led Nervecentre Software to compile data from its major customers, such as Nottingham University Hospitals, to show how its technology is enabling a better management of intensive care beds and patients and leading to millions in savings.

“Our technology ultimately translates into allowing nurses and doctors to spend more time with their patients with all the information they need on their mobile device Paul explains. “Having said that, mobile technology really comes into its own when hospitals see what they can really achieve by using it because the range of potential applications is huge.”

One such area is clinical photography where Nervecentre has successfully launched a solution that enables medical staff to take as many pictures of wounds and conditions as they need, while centrally linking them to a particular patient.

“Healthcare is a very visual profession and doctors often rely on what they can see, and how it changes over time, to make their decisions,” says Paul. “However, clinicians aren’t generally allowed to take pictures on their mobiles because these cannot be associated to a particular patient. Instead, they usually have to engage a central clinical photography department that takes time to schedule and is expensive to run.”

From an operational viewpoint, Nervecentre’s biggest task has been to manage its own growth while protecting its client-focused culture. Its 32 employees span equally across development, sales, clinical and technical roles, with women continuing to represent more than half of the management team.

“We really had to slow our recruitment down this year until we were confident that all our people had reached a certain level,” says Paul. “We are very protective about our culture. Perhaps not in a formal sense, but in making sure that everyone has the same engrained values and the ‘soft’ emotional skills we look for.”

For senior positions Paul generally prefers to recruit from within, so his challenge has been to help people make the transition, and take on more management and directional roles. He is grateful that the company is now of a size where multiple projects can be completed without him having to be part of them.

“It’s a lovely feeling to be talking to someone knowing that there’s a meeting somewhere else that you don’t have to be at, and that our clients are being dealt with proactively,” he says.

In the months again, Nervecentre Software will maintain its focus on increasing market share among its 30 NHS trusts across the county, while continuing to explore promising opportunities overseas in markets such as Australia and Sweden.