Feedback Medical: Supporting clinician remote working during COVID-19

DigitalHealth.London Accelerator company, Feedback Medical, are supporting clinicians when they can’t be in hospital due to shielding (or don’t need to be) by providing them with what they term ‘Digital Protective Equipment’. Using their CE-marked app, Bleepa, clinical grade imaging can be viewed remotely and without having to physically see a patient, meaning NHS staff including radiologists, gastroenterologists and sonographers can conduct their work remotely and therefore be provided better protection from COVID-19 infection

A clinician who has successfully managed remote referrals, while shielding from infection during COVID-19, Dr Ayman Kasir said:

“As a gastroenterology locum registrar, I was covering clinical work at the Royal Oldham Hospital in Manchester when COVID-19 escalated to a global pandemic. Due to existing health conditions, I was advised to shield from other people – including patients – for my own safety. This meant that I was confined to a desk, isolating from colleagues, and unable to see patients face to face,” he explained.

“To continue supporting the gastroenterology team, my responsibility was to review patient cases and make clinical decisions on referrals. With a CE-marked app called Bleepa that had been introduced to the hospital, I was able to see all patient information remotely and didn’t need to physically see the patient to deal with the referral. This made it much safer not only for me personally but also for patients and colleagues in order to minimise contact with others.”

Including Royal Oldham Hospital, Bleepa was deployed across the Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust as a key clinical communication tool in the Trust’s COVID-19 response. This included flagging patients by key clinical indicators (for example, COVID-19 status or ventilation status), mapping these with patient location through integration with the Trust’s administration system and allowing monitoring of ventilator availability by ward location. It also facilitated local patient recruitment onto the Recovery Trial, allowing the clinical teams to refer patients directly to the research nurse team.

Clinician and CEO of Feedback Medical, Dr Tom Oakley, said, “with the right technology – frontline NHS staff can benefit from connectivity and peer support, without needing to be physically present in the hospital. A key part of a clinician’s role – getting a clinical decision quickly and putting it into effect – can still be performed if he or she is self-isolating during COVID-19.

“I would call this ‘Digital Protective Equipment’, alongside PPE and vaccination. It not only helps clinicians when they can’t be in the hospital (or don’t need to be) but it also protects patients as COVID-19 infection is continuing to spread in hospital settings. Reducing person to person interactions in hospitals is key, as in any other setting, and the right digital communication allows this.

“With the right technology available to them, I would suggest that those clinicians that can work from home should during the pandemic for their own safety and infection control. A CE-marked tool can enable excellent communication between clinicians, management of individual patient pathways, patient data storage that complies with data security (not stored locally on any device) and sharing of medical grade imagery for fast decision-making that is fully integrated into the hospital’s administration system.

“This year, we are thrilled to be a part of the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme and the incredible community of support and wealth of knowledge that it provides. For us, this is a great opportunity to really get in front of the London hospital network and to show them what Bleepa can do, how it can revolutionise their imaging communications and ultimately, why they should choose Bleepa.”

Programme Director for DigitalHealth.London, Jenny Thomas, said, “Bleepa’s CE-marked remote working tool ensures secure transfer and storage of patient data, improves sharing of medical grade imaging and can fully integrate with hospital administration systems. It is a great example of how digital health can support the NHS, particularly at this challenging time.”