After the Bleepa: App aims to improve security and treatment ease

Ian Bolland caught up with Dr Tom Oakley, CEO of Feedback, about its medical grade imaging app Bleepa, which will be launched at the NHS Expo on 4-5 September in Manchester.

The app is accessible through smartphones, tablets and desktops which facilitate clinical messaging and reviews clinical grade imaging.

The directors at Feedback believe Bleepa will be the only messaging service that will be categorised as a medical device.

Dr Oakley explains: “The fact we handle the clinical grade medical images makes us a medical device. If you are not interacting with patient data in that way you don’t have to be one.

“It’s the very nature of that we are handling clinical grade imaging that means we would be a CE marked certified medical device.”

Oakley also remarked on how it will make communication in a clinical team involved in the care of a patient easier, saying he wished it was something he had when practicing.

“The nice thing is you can annotate the images. At the minute, if you want to discuss a case, you’re both on a phone looking at two completely different screens, trying to describe what you’re looking at and trying to get the other person to understand.

“Whereas with Bleepa, I pull up the study, I highlight the thing I’m concerned about and I just ping it over to you. You click on it, it opens, you can see exactly what it is I’m looking at because I’ve circled it. It’s just so much faster and so much more accurate.”

The app will be governed by the data sharing principles set out in ISO 27000, and has been built through Feedback’s ISO 13485 compliant quality management system.

It was developed following findings in a BMJ Innovations article that suggested 97% of hospital doctors routinely use WhatsApp to communicate about patients.

So how are concerns about security surrounding the protection of patient data addressed?

Oakley adds: “We have designed it in such a way that the security of data is in-built into the product. One of the best ways of achieving that is we won’t be storing anything locally on individual devices. It’s all stored centrally at the hospital.”

If a clinician were to lose their phone, all they would need to do is to notify the hospital and access from that particular device would be blocked.

The hospital’s ability to own the data created by the chat means they can oversee clinical decision making processes, which could protect clinicians in the case of litigation, while the chat itself can form part of the medical record.

Oakley continues: “It certainly gives the patient more oversight about how decisions about their care is being made.

“Everyone can download WhatsApp whereas Bleepa will only be downloaded or downloadable by individuals that have been required access through the hospital. It will be a verified list of users from each site and they will be sent a secure login or download link.

“There are only those individuals who have been vetted and we know form part of the care team of the patient will be able to use it.”

Like with other apps, it can be accessed as long as there is 4G or wi-fi connection, allowing off-site clinicians to stay connected.

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