ShareSafe: the app empowering clinicians with information
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, information about the virus has changed on a daily basis, demonstrating the need for clear, accurate guidance from accurate sources.
Peter Pronovost MD, PhD, Chief Clinical Transformation Officer at University Hospitals Health System in Northeast Ohio, and advisor to the WHO, set his sights on getting the latest info into the hands of healthcare staff on the frontlines - literally via an app on their phones.
Partnering with ShareSafe Solutions, a healthcare technology company, he helped pivot the company’s existing healthcare app into a secure mobile platform. The ShareSafe Response Network app connects government and public health officials, hospital leaders, clinical teams and acute care personnel to help them communicate, collaborate virtually, and access training and education.
“As COVID evolves, the CDC, states and local hospitals produce and modify guidelines” Provonost says. “As guidelines change, health systems have to adapt and deploy clinical evidence and new training to staff. Yet the dissemination of this information is limited, inefficient and not in real-time.
“Clinicians generally have to go to a website, stagnant intranet or portal on a workstation to learn about these updates. Most health systems lack mobile technology that securely pushes critical updates and provides just-in-time training on their smartphones. Considering that most healthcare systems have limited or fragmented collaborative tools, it’s exciting to have a single mobile platform that optimizes current technology to deliver accurate information.”
Information is constantly reviewed and added via clinical advisors, healthcare partners and governmental bodies. The tool also assimilates content from sister company ShareSafe Media, which focuses on news and updates on COVID-19 and provides tools for frontline healthcare workers to focus on their wellness and combat stress and anxiety.
The State of Alabama is the first to sign up to the ShareSafe Response Network, available at no charge to healthcare organizations statewide. There are plans to expand however. “COVID-19 laid bare the need to have these types of communication tools at the national, state and health system levels” Provonost says. “This is important because a mobile backbone for collaboration not only helps in the urgent COVID climate but can serve more broadly as a base platform for deploying strategies to eliminate defects and improve the value of healthcare.
“It takes a coordinated effort and a “systems engineering” focus to change the narrative from one in which defects are viewed as inevitable to one in which they are viewed as preventable opportunities. While individual health systems have had success, no program has been extended beyond its primary geography to achieve statewide, let alone regional adoption. And ShareSafe will seek to help anywhere.”
There are also plans to use the app beyond the pandemic. ShareSafe CEO Robert Hanson explains: “We believe our platform has tremendous future value. The beauty of providing a mobile backbone is that we can link together state agencies, health systems (large and small) and clinicians to provide a more scalable and contemporary infrastructure that aligns with the future of healthcare.
“Now, any initiative to address quality or financial imperatives and patient or healthcare worker improvement can be rolled out on a wide scale and in rapid time. As healthcare advances past the COVID-19 pandemic, filling significant gaps in healthcare (what we call “soft-wiring interconnections®”), will be important to shore up some of healthcare’s vulnerabilities and improve patient care delivery. COVID has just spotlighted the need to fast-track this process.”
NHSX releases new data plans, experts call for transparency
Patients in England will get "greater control" over their health and care data according to new proposals set out by the government.
In a new draft strategy called "Data saves lives: reshaping health and social care with data", Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock says that more effective use of data will deliver better patient-focused care. "This strategy seeks to put people in control of their own data, while supporting the NHS in creating a modernised system fit for the 21st century which puts patients and staff in pole position."
Under the new plans people will be able to access their medical records from different parts of the health system through different applications, to access test results, medication lists, procedures and care plans.
The strategy, published by NHSX, the government department that sets policies for the use of technology within the NHS, follows delays to the creation of a central database of patient records amid concerns over data sharing and a lack of transparency, with critics saying that only a small proportion of the public were made aware of the plans and the choice to opt out.
Kevin Curran, senior member of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Professor of Cybersecurity at the University of Ulster, says that moving health records online raises concerns. "The move to an online app does seem like a natural progression, however there is a difference between having computerised records within our healthcare IT infrastructure and having those records reside on a public facing server.
"Having records inhouse limits the range and type of access – it's far more difficult for remote hackers" Curran said. "There are techniques that healthcare organisations can use to reduce the risk of future data breaches. One way is to make it ‘opt in’, so patients have the choice to decide whether their medical information is moved to a public facing service so that they can access it.
"However, those who do not opt in or download the app instead should have their records hosted in a non-public-facing cloud service. This way, if a data breach does occur, those who never used the app, or not wanted to, will not have had their details released."
The new strategy has been welcomed by some, with an emphasis on the need for transparency. Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation, said: "Health data has played a critical role in the last year – from tracking COVID-19 outbreaks and developing treatments, to getting people booked in for their vaccines. It is critical that the use of data is accelerated if the NHS is to tackle the backlog of care and address the massive health challenges facing the country.
"It is particularly positive that the government has committed to building analytical and data science capability in the NHS and to improving data on social care. To ensure the full potential of data can be realised, the government must ensure transparency on how it will be used and the rights and options people have, as well as engaging with the public and health care professionals to build trust and show people how their data can improve the NHS and save lives."