Following local application in the healthcare sector, for Covid-19 patient care among others, a South African health technology company Healthcent (Signapps) has won a prestigious contract with Britain’s National Health Services (NHS).

In terms of the contract, Signapps will provide its software as a service communication platform for the management of clinical communication to NHS Trusts.

NHS Trusts will be able to procure these services through a framework agreement which has a list value of £3-million and will run for a period of two years with a potential extension for 12 months.

The tender published on 19 June, revealed the Covid-19 pandemic has “accelerated the need to urgently deliver on Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s long-standing plan to phase out pagers by the end of 2021.”

This target date has been brought forward significantly because of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK. The urgency is underlined by the fact that the tender was awarded six weeks of being published.

“The contract with the NHS is a major coup for us, as a South African company, proving that our product engineering teams can create product to compete with the very best internationally” says Andrew Davies, CEO of Signapps.

Since its launch three years ago, the Signapps messaging platform has a proven local track record, having been established in numerous areas, including the Chris Hani Baragwanath Paediatric Burns Unit, stroke units within the Life Hospital group, sub-acute care for the Intercare Group, managed care of palliative patients (Alignd) and more recently, on a pro-bono basis, within state hospitals to keep healthcare workers safe in the Covid-19 environment.

According to Davies, because most of the development involved in fulfilling the NHS contract will be done locally, the contract will provide work opportunities for those with software engineering and development skills.

International studies have revealed that as much as 70% of all preventable mishaps in healthcare happen as a result of miscommunication or no communication. Using Signapps, clinical updates on patients can be communicated and shared confidentially, enabling appropriate responses by practitioners in real-time as well as facilitating more generalised communication relating to logistical and administrative matters between teams.

The advantage of Signapps, particularly in the treatment of patients with Covid-19, is that only essential workers need to be physically present with the patient, allowing other members of the care team to collaborate in real time remotely. This reduces the risk of unnecessary exposure to healthcare workers providing input to cases, whilst allowing them to efficiently manage a far greater number than otherwise possible without the technology.

“There was an excellent fit between the requirements of the NHS tender and the Signapps messaging platform including GDPR compliant platform features and points of integration to NHS active directory and Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Said features and integrations enable staff to share clinical information quickly and securely with the minimum of friction,” Davies says.

“The award shows that our platform, already proven to be effective in South Africa, can stand up to international scrutiny and be selected for use in one of the world’s biggest national health systems. I am proud of everyone, both inside and outside our company, who has played a role in developing Signapps to this point.

“In particular I have to thank our loyal customers in the local healthcare eco-system who have worked with us to design and deliver a system that speaks to the need to optimise efficiency and ease of use given the inherent constraints on healthcare practitioner time, driving down utilisation costs through better coordinated care and ultimately driving better outcomes for patients.”