Local tech platform Signapps to help hospitals during Covid-19 period
DURBAN - "The recent outbreak of Covid-19 and resultant closure of three local private hospitals has drawn attention to the urgent need for a careful but speedy response to this troubling development in the pandemic," said Andrew Davies, Chief Executive of local health tech company Signapps.
South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize also made an important reference to the need to protect healthcare workers in his briefing on Monday.
"We believe that the introduction of a simple care co-ordination platform on the mobile phone, such as Signapps, could mitigate much of the risk of infection exposure to frontline doctors and nurses," added Davies.
Currently used in both the private and public healthcare sectors to co-ordinate patient care, Healthcent’s Signapps, was originally developed with initial funding secured from the DTI and the Gauteng Innovation Hub. Healthcent is a local, privately-owned health tech company recently backed by Allan Gray and Umkhathi Wethu Ventures.
Davies and his team are turning their attention to the application of Signapps to address the Covid-19 pandemic head on.
"Our objectives with Signapps in Covid-19 are simple: to reduce the risk of infection to health care workers and improve patient outcomes," said Davies.
South Africa has a unique set of circumstances regarding Covid-19 and local health facilities are struggling to respond effectively and safely to the virus.
Signapps provides real-time, malleable, collaborative data collection and patient care co-ordination all on the mobile phone. A real-time, on-line patient thread is created when the patient is admitted. Then the data is collected and shared.
Messaging between members of the health-care team, many of them remotely, enables a large number of experts to be involved in the patient care without necessarily being on site. This is critical in South Africa’s healthcare space where resources and manpower are already stretched.
Because far fewer professionals spend time directly interfacing with the patient, the risk to them can be dramatically reduced. This also allows these doctors to attend to a larger number of patients, including those without Covid-19.
With Signapps, essential documentation, such as protocols and patient records, are kept on the patient thread and are available in real-time to all participants. Remedial actions are immediate. Unlike other messaging systems such as WhatsApp, Signapps is specifically designed for the healthcare space and adheres to legal requirements such as confidentiality and POPI.
Signapps speeds up the collection and dissemination of a patient’s clinical data in real time, making treatment quicker and, therefore, more effective. It allows input from a wide range of participating professionals, many of whom will be remote from isolated Covid-19 patients.
Given the urgency of the situation and the need for all role players to work for the greater good of the nation, Davies and his team will provide Signapps pro bono to all users in public sector hospitals over the Covid-19 period.
"We plan to target specific public sector hospitals, authorities and technology integrators that are considered likely to adopt the system and are capable of doing it quickly. In addition, private hospital groups will also be exposed to this technology in the belief that it will help alleviate the risk of more tragic situations occurring in this sector," said Davies.
"The solution offered by Signapps within Covid-19 is innovative, simple to use, effective, improves healthcare worker safety and patient care and specifically addresses the weaknesses in the current SA situation," concluded Davies.
BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE