As South Africa commemorates World Stroke Week this week (28 October to 3 November), Life Healthcare Group has turned to technology to help improve critical services to stroke patients in its facilities.
Worldwide, stroke is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability. Most patients present with ischaemic stroke symptoms, which is a restriction in blood supply to tissues, causing a shortage of oxygen that is needed for cellular metabolism (to keep tissue alive).
Critical to the effective treatment of ischaemic stroke patients is the coordination of patient care through all phases of their stroke journey. There are multiple critical points where efficient, effective care can result in better patient outcomes. A good example is achieving the optimal “door to needle time” – the time the patient arrives at hospital to receiving an intravenous injection to dissolve the blood clot causing the stroke.
Another important point of care is the early coordination of specialised stroke rehabilitative services.
To this end, the hospital group has adopted a locally developed care coordination and messaging platform called Signapps in 12 of its acute hospitals around the country to facilitate the many interventions involved in the care of stroke patients, from the crucial initial stages to the access to rehabilitative services.
Signapps is a key component of Life Healthcare’s broader Stroke Restore project, which will see technology addressing a number of objectives. These being:
* To maximise the number of patients completing the stroke care pathway, designed by Life Healthcare and based on international best practices;
* To improve coordination of logistics and management between the care team in the acute phase of the patient’s care; and
* To improve coordination and communication between the multi-disciplinary team in the rehabilitation phase of the patient’s care.
“Simple and timely interventions particularly in the early stages of a stroke have a dramatic impact on the patient’s speed of recovery and rehabilitation,” says Dr Karisha Quarrie, regional clinical manager and project lead of Life Healthcare’s Stroke Restore programme.
“Signapps is expected to play a pivotal role in our efforts to improve the communication between caregivers, allocation of resources, sharing of data, and the timely administration of therapeutic interventions to our stroke patients,” Dr Quarries says.
Using the Signapps platform, ambulance personnel can send an alert via the platform to the hospital emergency unity (EU) to prepare the team for the patient’s arrival. The EU nurse can then create a Signapps patient thread, alerting the resident doctor, radiology and pathology units as well as the neurologist on call. Ongoing patient care proceeds from here and later therapy teams are included and multi-disciplinary care is facilitated.
“A study by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations identified that communication is by far the single biggest cause of delay in treatment in acute environments. We are delighted to be working with Life Healthcare, as part of their broader stroke project, who have adopted a patient centric approach to stroke management from the acute through to the rehabilitation phase” says Andrew Davies, CEO of Signapps.
“The single greatest advantage of Signapps is that it places the patient front and centre of the care process, facilitating communication between the various role players and enabling them to share vital patient data for better decision making.”
Already Signapps is being used within 30 customers comprising hospitals (public and private) and hospital groups, practices, associations and funders of care. There are over 2 000 users registered on the platform.
“Our purpose is to transform how patients are cared for in South Africa. Our objective is for Signapps is to be the simplest, most effective, care coordination platform for people and organisations in the healthcare ecosystem, and to ensure that the patient remains firmly at the centre of the treatment universe,” Davies concludes.