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Signapps multi-million rand deal with Britain NHS: What it means for SA

Andrew Davies, Chief Executive of Signapps. Picture: LinkedIn

Andrew Davies, Chief Executive of Signapps. Picture: LinkedIn

Published Sep 11, 2020


Cape Town - South African health technology company Healthcent (Signapps) has recently won a multi-million rand contract with Britain’s National Health Services (NHS).

The tender was issued by NHSX - the digital arm of NHS England.

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NHS trusts will be able to procure these services through a framework agreement from a group of prequalified and individually vetted specialist suppliers of which Signapps is one.

But what does this mean for South Africans and how will it affect us?

Signapps is a mobile-first secure communication and collaboration platform, that enables multi-disciplinary teams of healthcare practitioners to collaborate around the care of a patient.

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“The primary medium for doing this is a mobile app – a secure messenger which allows group chats about a patient between a team of medical professionals (we call them Patient Threads). The Patient Thread is similar to a Whatsapp group except that the chat space is secure, used for professional purposes only and conversations are centred around a patient,” CEO of the company Andrew Davies told IOL Tech.

“The product can be integrated into existing patient admission and electronic health record systems as well as service providers such as pathology and radiology companies. The idea is to push important information about patients from these systems into Signapps’ Patient Threads.”

The product comes bundled with a number of features, such as digital forms for data gathering; workflows for process automation and chatbots to assist practitioners in specialised care verticals with advice.“

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“The principal benefit we see is that the exposure to NHS systems, people and thinking, will translate into enhancing the Signapps product offering with features and intelligence that we could then put to work in the local Healthcare system in South Africa both Private and Public. So ultimately this project will benefit clinicians and patients in South Africa and our work so far here will benefit the UK,”

The creation of this app was inspired in 2016, Signapps was approached by two orthopedic surgeons from State Hospital Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital who were using Whatsapp groups to coordinate the care of patients between teams in a public hospital.

This method of communicating was “revolutionary” in their environment. These Whatsapp groups allowed team members to make contributions and access updates about patients in real-time from any location.

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However, one of their biggest challenges was compliance with data privacy legislation, more specifically POPI, which prohibits the sharing of sensitive clinical information about patients in a social space on a social network.

Communication is a serious problem in healthcare. Seventy per cent of all preventable mishaps in healthcare environments happen as a result of miscommunication or no communication.

Therefore Signapps sought to solve this communication problems.

The next step for Signapps is to collaborate with various NHS Trusts to implement Signapps and integrate it to their systems.

Davies said healthcare is fundamental to longevity and quality of live - and communication is the nexus of Healthcare.

“I think anyone who has suffered from a complex condition or disease or has been close to someone that has, would have experienced the frustration of the care team not always being coordinated. Signapps seeks to solve this problem of getting clinical teams ’on the same page’ about a patient in a way that is intuitive to healthcare practitioners thus easily adopted and used.”

Signapps vows to stay focused on continuing business development and support activities for South Africans customers in the private healthcare sector.

“We would love the opportunity to develop a closer working relationship with the National Department of Health to scale our technology into State Hospitals to grow the successes we have already had in Chris Hani Baragwanath, Charlotte Maxeke, RCCH, Edendale and others,” said Davies, when asked what was next for the team.

“In terms of the UK the next step is to secure partnerships with NHS Trusts and ensure that we deliver a world class service to them - this contract is only the start and there is a lot of work ahead.”


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