May 17, 2020

Secure video messaging supporting parents of premature babies gets NHS Digital approval

Catherine Sturman
3 min
paediatric care (Getty Images)
An application that provides parents of sick and premature babies with video updates has just received central governance approval.

The seal of approva...

An application that provides parents of sick and premature babies with video updates has just received central governance approval.

The seal of approval from NHS Digital means that the web-based application, vCreate, is now recognised by the NHS and will enable hospitals to roll out the service more quickly and easily across their Trust.

vCreate was first trialled at the Royal Hospital for Children, Glasgow, in April in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and now houses over 170 parents that have signed up to receive personalised video updates of their baby’s progress from their smart devices at times when they are not able to be at their baby’s cot side.

The technology allows nurses to record and send secure video messages to parents, to ensure that special moments that parents of premature infants would previously have missed, are captured on video.

When a baby is discharged, parents then have the option to download a secure baby care video diary that documents their baby’s journey and can be kept forever.

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Ben Moore, Founder of vCreate, said: “We are thrilled to hear that vCreate has passed central governance and will now be listed as a trusted application. This long-awaited decision means that NHS Neonatal Units considering vCreate will now be able to get started more quickly, and parents with a child in an NHS neonatal unit will receive additional reassurance of their baby’s wellbeing when they need it most.”

vCreate is already in talks with over 100 neonatal units across the UK that are either using the platform or would like to. vCreate hopes that with NHS Digital’s central governance approval, more units will choose the application which is free to neonatal units and parents through an innovative funding model that sees private enterprises supporting the provision of the vCreate application in exchange for branding on the video page seen by parents.

In addition, to being the first app of its kind, vCreate has also pioneered a new approach to funding the application for neonatal units that it hopes to replicate in other areas of the NHS. “Our aim is to make vCreate completely cost neutral to NHS Neonatal Units and parents using the service. We do this by working with individual hospital charities to find a local sponsor or benefactor that wants to fund the application for the hospital in exchange for branding on the video page seen by parents and positive PR,” commented Moore.

We’ve spent lots of time consulting with NHS consultants and now we think we have a model that benefits the NHS, as well as local private enterprises that want to become a force for good for their local neonatal unit.”

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Jul 25, 2021

Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare

 Joe Gaska
4 min
Getting ready for cloud data-driven healthcare
 Joe Gaska, CEO of GRAX, tells us how healthcare providers can become cloud-based and data-driven organisations

As healthcare continues to recognise the value of data and digital transformation, many organisations are relying on the cloud to make their future-forward and data-centric thinking a reality. In fact, the global healthcare cloud computing market was valued at approximately $18 billion and is expected to generate around $61 billion USD by 2025. 

At the forefront of these changes is the rapid adoption of cloud-based, or software-as-a-service (SaaS), applications. These apps can be used to handle patient interactions, track prescriptions, care, billing and more, and the insights derived from this important data can vastly improve operations, procurement and courses of treatment. However, before healthcare organisations can begin to dream about a true data-driven future, they have to deal with a data-driven dilemma: compliance. 

Meeting regulation requirements

It’s no secret that healthcare is a highly regulated industry when it comes to data and privacy – and rightfully so. Patient records contain extremely sensitive data that, if changed or erased, could cost someone their life. This is why healthcare systems rely on legacy technologies, like Cerner and Epic EHRs, to manage patient information – the industry knows the vendors put an emphasis on making them as secure as possible.

Yet when SaaS applications are introduced and data starts being moved into them, compliance gets complicated. For example, every time a new application is introduced into an organisation, that organisation must have the vendor complete a BAA (Business Associate Agreement). This agreement essentially puts the responsibility for the safety of patients’ information — maintaining appropriate safeguards and complying with regulations — on the vendor.

However, even with these agreements in place, healthcare systems still are at risk of failing to meet compliance requirements. To comply with HIPAA, U.S. Food and Drug Administration 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulations that stipulate the need to exercise best practices to keep electronic patient data safe, healthcare organisations must maintain comprehensive audit trails – something that gets increasingly difficult when data sits in an application that resides in the vendor’s infrastructure.

Additionally, data often does not stay in the applications – instead healthcare users download, save and copy it into other business intelligence tools, creating data sprawl across the organisation and exposing patient privacy to greater risk. 

With so many of these tools that are meant to spur growth and more effective care creating compliance challenges, it begs the question: how can healthcare organisations take advantage of the data they have without risking non-compliance?

Data ownership

Yes, healthcare organisations can adhere to regulations while also getting valuable insights from the wealth of data they have available. However, to help do this, organisations must own their data. This means data must be backed up and stored in an environment that they have control over, rather than in the SaaS vendors’ applications.

Backing up historical SaaS application data directly from an app into an organisation’s own secure cloud infrastructure, such as AWS or Microsoft Azure, makes it easier, and less costly, to maintain a digital chain of custody – or a trail of the different touchpoints of data. This not only increases the visibility and auditability of that data, but organisations can then set appropriate controls around who can access the data.

Likewise, having data from these apps located in one central, easily accessible location can decrease the number of copies floating around an organisation, reducing the surface area of exposure while also making it easier for organisations to securely pull data into business intelligence tools. 

When healthcare providers have unfettered access to all their historical data, the possibilities for growth and insights are endless. For example, having ownership and ready access to authorised data can help organisations further implement and support outcome-based care. Insights enabled by this data will help inform diagnoses, prescriptions, treatment plans and more, which benefits not only the patient, but the healthcare ecosystem as a whole. 

To keep optimising and improving care, healthcare systems must take advantage of new tools like SaaS applications. By backing up and owning their historical SaaS application data, they can do so while minimising the risk to patient privacy or compliance requirements. Having this ownership and access can propel healthcare organisations to be more data-driven – creating better outcomes for everyone. 

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