Hospify Secure Messaging App Simplifies Specialist Consultations, Allowing GPs to Triage Patients More Swiftly
Dr Nelly King is a busy GP at The Cambridge Practice in Aldershot. She is also a Macmillan GP facilitator and cancer lead for North East Hampshire and Farnham CCG. She divides her time roughly 75:25 between the two roles. Outside of work she is protective of her home life, so prefers to accomplish as much as she can for her patients during clinic hours.
Doing the best for her patients can involve consultations with colleagues and correspondence with external experts. Outside the practice, this would traditionally involve writing referral letters or emails, and sending over relevant notes or images to determine whether a specialist appointment will be needed, or what other course of action is advised.
So when Dr King was approached to try a new secure messaging app called Hospify – a kind of WhatsApp for clinicians and their trusted colleagues – she was very interested.
The app’s premise is that it allows instant, trusted communications between dispersed teams and extended clinical networks – with the ability to locate specialist experts quickly and determine if they are free for a spontaneous consultation. Less intrusive than a phone call, and with the option to message several people simultaneously, Hospify offers to save clinicians a lot of time by enabling them to source quick answers at the time of need. Dr King has also been an IT lead for her GP practice, so she was able to appreciate the benefits immediately, not least the ability to get up and running quickly without the need to buy and learn to use any special software. “We started by forming a group for our practice to share clinical input,” she says. “GPs can ask each other for a quick second opinion, or share a medical image for their feedback, so it’s already very useful.”
The next use case she is keen to exploit is for connecting with other clinical experts in the local area. “If we can tap into broader clinical groups, for example a breast surgeon, dermatologist or podiatrist, we could start to triage remotely – share an image of a lesion, or check on a particular policy relating to vascular surgery, for example, and get a more immediate steer on whether a patient should be referred.”
Reducing referral admin
Compared to the usual approach of dictating a letter or typing a letter between patients or after clinic sessions, the immediacy of using Hospify offers to cut through a layer of administration. “It simplifies the process and could mean faster results for patients,” Dr King says.
In her Macmillan liaison role, Dr King recently took part in a pilot for a Virtual Multi-Disciplinary Team, giving her an insight into how MDTs might work across distance. But without an associated app, it could take four or five hours to collate and send all the relevant information to remote colleagues. “Although the intention was good, the process was frustrating and time-consuming. If the project had been supported by an app like Hospify, it would have been much more efficient,” she notes. “Generally speaking, the NHS hasn’t been very good at finding secure IT solutions that are easy for everyone to use. But we all have phones and Hospify capitalises on that and gets straight to what’s needed.”
The Hospify app, whose functionality is evolving all the time, includes a number of important and innovative features. These include the ability to easily look up and connect with other clinicians and support staff via the in-app directory. Then there are the essential security controls, so medical teams can confidently discuss patient cases using the app without fear of transgressing strict requirements governing the sharing of protected personal information. Dr King says she is excited by the potential for Hospify across both of her roles – as a practising GP, and in her capacity as Macmillan GP facilitator and cancer lead for her local CCG. “As a real-time interface for sharing resources and instant advice, it’s invaluable,” she concludes.