Hospify Secure Messaging App Enables Real-time Coordination of Complex Hip Trauma Surgery at Frimley Park Hospital
With rising pressure on NHS Trusts to provide excellent patient care while managing tight budgets and staff shortages, it’s vital that hospitals can pull the right teams together quickly in emergency situations. At Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey, trauma teams responsible for coordinating and performing hip fracture surgery on elderly patients are now using a breakthrough mobile app to stay in touch with each other – securely, in real time – so that the right people can be mobilised immediately when a new complex case comes in.
Coordinating the best care
The hospital carries out more than 500 hip repairs annually. The typical patient is elderly and has multiple medical conditions. These need to be taken into account and appropriately managed as each individual is prepared for surgery. In a trauma situation, this multi-disciplinary input needs to be coordinated quickly to minimise delays to procedures and enable the best patient care. New cases could be admitted at any time of day or night.
Consultant anaesthetist Tim Pepall and his colleagues had been searching for a solution to real-time trauma coordination for years. “We had always felt they must be a better way of communicating. Emails just don’t cut it, and chasing people individually can be very hard and time-consuming,” he says. “In complex fractured-neck-of-femur surgery, there are lots of surgeons, anaesthetists and nursing staff involved. One person might know what’s going on, but the issue until now has been how to efficiently bring everyone up to speed when people are in different places.”
Hospify: secure instant messaging for medical teams
In 2017, Tim got word that a colleague elsewhere in the hospital, consultant vascular surgeon Neville Dastur, had developed a secure and compliant WhatsApp-style app for real-time group communication – called Hospify. He was keen to try it.
“Finally, here was a secure means of communicating instantly with colleagues – with the ability to share information in a compliant manner, monitor people’s responses and have back-and-forth conversations in real time,” Tim says. “And all teams need is their smartphones, something most people already have. It was the answer we’d been looking for.”
The Hospify app includes a number of important and innovative features. One is its strict privacy controls. This means medical teams can confidently discuss patient cases using the app, without fear of transgressing strict requirements governing the sharing of confidential information. Conversations conducted over Hospify are encrypted as they pass back and forth between team members and are deleted from Hospify’s server network once they’ve been delivered. This means that the only copies of the messages are those held on devices of authorised staff. Just as importantly, message content never passes out of the EU as it travels over the internet, keeping the app compliant with new European data protection rules (GDPR), applicable from May 2018. Other useful features include the ability to easily look up and connect with other clinicians and support staff via the in-app directory.
Instant responses enable faster decisions
Two trauma coordinators, one ortho-geriatrician, and nine trauma anaesthetists now use the Hospify app, and more than 20 consultant orthopaedic surgeons are due to adopt it imminently. “So all the people involved in surgery planning will be connected and able to communicate securely as events unfold,” Tim says.
“This is transformational. It’s like a bleep system for the 21 st century – immediate, with the ability to communicate back and forth, and no guesswork about who’s seeing and responding to messages. And because it’s so secure, I can use it from home to see and respond to situations at any time of day or night. It’s electronic communication at its best.”
Simple & affordable
From a budgetary point of view, Hospify carries negligible cost because it is app- based and remotely hosted – so the hospital hasn’t had to invest in any special systems, or user devices. “Best of all, it feels very familiar to users because of its similarity to consumer messaging systems like WhatsApp,” Tim notes.
The benefits of Hospify are already widely felt in Frimley Park Hospital’s orthogeriatric department. Patients admitted after hours can be successfully processed through the night and preparations made to enable surgery to be scheduled promptly for the next day – without the wait for key team members to arrive at work and be brought up to speed. Meanwhile trauma surgery coordinators can choose from a larger pool of anaesthetists because it’s so easy to include everyone in the loop.
Glimpsing the future
“Hospify is a game-changer,” Tim says. “I can see it catching on quickly in other departments and hospitals. It’s something the medical profession has long needed,” he adds, “and the fact that it was designed by a clinician - who understands our processes and the criticality of patient privacy/information governance - means we can have the confidence to use it when it really counts.”
His team is excited about ongoing plans for Hospify too. The app now supports picture-based messaging, for example, so that clinicians can securely share X-rays and other medical images, further enhancing the ability to make critical decisions across distance. “We’re only beginning to appreciate what’s possible, but this is definitely the future,” Tim concludes.