While the world continues to face the Covid-19 crisis, many companies and start-ups are coming up with innovative ways to improve processes and operations within the medical industry.
Dr Ann Shortt is an emergency medicine consultant, GP and co-founder of Full Health Medical, a software platform designed and driven by doctors to streamline patient care. In recent months, the company has developed a new software tool named Flow, which aims to free up GP time and protect patients by using smart data analytics and video consultations.
“The idea was borne out of the recognition that GPs are patient rich but time poor. There are simply not enough hours in the day for many GPs. With this in mind, we developed a GP-facing, patient-centred software platform designed to minimise unnecessary patient consultations and drastically reduce administration time in GP practices,” said Shortt.
“The software ecosystem essentially simplifies patient pathways using automated interpretation of medical data to communicate with patients.”
Full Health Medical has a team of 10 employees, supported by a wider team of specialist experts in security, IT, commercialisation and medicine.
‘We need to use this opportunity to pull together and future-proof our healthcare system’
– DR ANN SHORTT
They developed the Flow consultation system, enabling instant generation of personalised, evidence-based medical reports that explain, in easily understandable language, which tests were performed and what actions the patient needs to undertake, with minimal clerical input from the GP at the point of care.
“With the secure video consultations feature, there’s no software to download, or login required for video with patients,” Shortt added. “All patients have to do is click on the link and enter the SMS code, and they’ll be brought straight into a consultation with their GP.”
Smart data analytics
Shortt said the Flow software tool analyses test results using a content library of thousands of possible outcomes and algorithms, in line with clinical best practice. The algorithm outputs are overseen and reviewed frequently by a specialist team of cardiologists, endocrinologists and general physicians.
“There is also continuous real-time feedback from the medical community using our platform, as each output requires a final physician review. With this data, a personalised report is created based on the patient’s results, medical history, medications, diet and lifestyle habits in a simplified, visual format so patients can understand it.”
When it comes to patients’ information, data protection is of the utmost importance. Shortt said the team encrypts all data and uses industry standard protocols such as restricted access to servers, as well as additional security measures for users, such as two-factor authentication and IP restricted access.
“Patients need support to own and control their own data, so they can share it securely and transparently with relevant parties. This was a very important consideration for us when developing Flow,” she said.
“All our data policies have been designed securing the privacy of the user data. We implement physical and technical controls throughout the platform and organisation to the highest industry standards, to prevent unauthorised access to user information, and to maintain data integrity and data accuracy.”
‘The whole system must work together’
Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation in most sectors. But what does this mean for the medical industry? Shortt said there has been great momentum in the adoption of new technologies in the face of Covid-19, but huge challenges still remain, particularly when it comes to “the sheer volume of siloed data” being processed within the health system.
“This makes it more difficult to deliver better and more personalised care. The whole system must work together to address this, so both primary and secondary care providers will both have roles to play.”
She also said protecting privacy and avoiding breaches is essential, especially when this data needs to be routinely shared to deliver services. “It has to be secure and trusted, no question.”
Finally, she cited the need for digital upskilling for workers within the healthcare industry. “Continued investment in training and technology is crucial to the future of our healthcare system. Martin Curley and his team in the digital transformation unit at the HSE are doing stellar work,” she said.
“His establishment of the digital academy to bring the stakeholders together, implement an MA in digital health transformation, and support business cases, will pay huge dividends in the Irish context.”
The future of healthcare
Shortt said there is an urgency to innovate and embrace this ‘new normal’, which will mean a huge focus on telehealth and remote monitoring capabilities.
“Patients must, of course, always be at the centre of these innovations and I believe they will both want and receive more control and transparency in relation to their own health and wellness journeys, along with sophisticated tools on how to navigate it,” she said.
“Navigating the health system is complex not only for patients, but also for those working in it. We need to use this opportunity to pull together and future-proof our healthcare system for all stakeholders.”
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