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Royal Papworth adds Bleepa app for clinicians to assess medical-grade images

Clinicians can highlight areas of interest on a scan for use within the Bleepa platform
Clinicians can highlight areas of interest on a scan for use within the Bleepa platform

Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has made Feedback’s mobile-enabled image messaging service, Bleepa, available to its clinical teams.

Bleepa radically speeds up the way clinicians share both the images and how the images are discussed. By having medical-grade images on their phone, they will be able to make decisions more rapidly and, thanks to the app’s encrypted WhatsApp messaging feature, clinicians will be able to highlight the area being discussed - the brain, in the image show here - and discuss diagnosis and treatment options.

The Royal Papworth has been a Feedback customer since 2001, largely for the Cadran PACS medical imaging system, but the just-renewed contract also includes access to Bleepa.

Tom Oakley, CEO of Feedback plc, said: “Papworth has been a longstanding customer of Feedback and we are delighted that they recognise the value of Bleepa as part of this renewal. Enabling critical review at the push of a button, Bleepa has the functionality to bring significant efficiencies and deliver real time-saving potential for its clinicians.

“The launch of Bleepa at Papworth is further evidence of the changing needs of frontline clinicians around their interaction with medical imaging and with colleagues, something that we are uniquely positioned to enable. We will now look to continue the spread of Bleepa to other opportunities across the healthcare setting.”

The encrypted messaging app was launched late last year and works on any internet-enabled device, including mobile and tablet. The new contract with the Bourn-based plc covers both Cadran PACS and the upgrade to Bleepa.

With 97 per cent of hospital doctors routinely using WhatsApp for communication, the Royal Papworth becomes the second NHS site to engage with the platform, the other being the Pennine Acute NHS Hospitals Trust, which is using Bleepa to support frontline staff manage Covid-19 patients.

The technology means patient cases involving medical imaging can be seamlessly shared to the entire clinical team. Cases can then be discussed through its secure instant messaging and image annotation, allowing comments and treatment decisions to be communicated instantly between team members. The zero footprint application saves time and effort for under-pressure NHS staff, particularly if there are further surges in the pandemic - and Bleepa, having been first adopted by Pennine Acute NHS Hospitals Trust in November, now has a proven track record of usefulness.

Bleepa has a WhatsApp-style messaging service - which is encrypted
Bleepa has a WhatsApp-style messaging service - which is encrypted

“We facilitated the information for that trial which lasted until April,” says Tom of the Pennine launch. “Then, when Covid-19 came along, they contacted us to say can we use it more widely to help as part of a recovery trial.

“Using Bleepa as a Covid-19 support tool means clinicians can access the improved functionality and help speed up the clinical workload, so clinicians can easily refer to other members of the clinical team.”

“The Covid-10 offering is free to the NHS for as long as possible,” adds Tom.

It will likely prove invaluable during the crisis because MRI scans of patients’ lungs has been critical in managing treatment. Given Royal Papworth’s major focus on heart and respiratory medicine, this is where Bleepa can come into its own, and where the hospital can lead the way on a digital front.

The conventional charging system for using Bleepa – a spend of about £10 per month per user – has been suspended for the duration.

“The technology works in any hospital setting and we are very keen to roll it out to support the NHS more widely,” Tom says.

The service could be used in healthcare settings anywhere.

“There are varying degrees of interest from overseas territories,” reports Tom, “but certainly the US, India and China are all very interesting markets that we could have an impact upon. For us it’s all about user numbers so it’s great to be able to scale.”

Royal Papworth Hospital is the UK’s leading heart and lung hospital, treating more than 100,000 patients each year. Since carrying out the UK’s first successful heart transplant in 1979, the hospital now performs more heart, heart-lung and lung transplants each year than any other UK centre.

In addition to transplantation, Royal Papworth Hospital has the UK’s largest respiratory support and is one of five UK centres providing extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) to patients experiencing severe respiratory failure.

Tom Oakley, CEO, Feedback plc
Tom Oakley, CEO, Feedback plc

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