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Compliance in Healthcare Apps

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Compliance in Healthcare Apps

With the launch of many innovative healthcare apps we are now looking even further into the importance of compliance within technology. From booking appointments online, to the NHS app that stores your repeat prescriptions, it is so much easier to gain access to your medical information and stay on top of your health.

The shift in technology has brought many great advances for healthcare, such as the innovative ‘Summary Care Records’, however with more and more patients using healthcare apps and/or online services with their GP this does come with patient safety concerns about how easily accessible this information is. As an indicator of this, the NHS has created a ‘Healthy Apps Library’ which includes various mobile apps that patients can access.

Apps have been separated into categories to make the regulation of products easier to control. An example of this is highlighting some products as medical devices e.g. an in vitro medical device (mobile app) that monitors your blood pressure. This makes it much easier for patients and app creators alike to understand the restrictions and regulations put in place to keep patients safe. A medical device is determined as:

“any instrument, apparatus, appliance, software, material or other article, whether used alone or in combination, together with any accessories, including the software intended by its manufacturer to be used specifically for diagnosis or therapeutic purposes or both and necessary for its proper application, which:
a) is intended by the manufacturer to be used for human beings for the purpose of:
i) diagnosis, prevention, monitoring, treatment or alleviation of disease,
ii) diagnosis, monitoring, treatment, alleviation of or compensation for an injury or handicap,
iii) investigation, replacement or modification of the anatomy or of a physiological process, or
iv) control of conception; and
b) does not achieve its principal intended action in or on the human body by pharmacological, immunological or metabolic means, even if it is assisted in its function by such means”

The nuanced nature of healthcare apps naturally can be a cause for concern for patients and healthcare professionals, but with legislations such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and NHS guidelines, this is monitored appropriately.

The GDPR came into effect in 2018, changing the way that personal data is handled. Stricter guidelines have been put in place for the entire process of collecting, organising, and storing information, to ensure that patients are safe.

 

Silicon Practice presents Footfall as a healthcare solution: a digital practice that is put in place for patients and general practice to create a seamless process from top to bottom. By using FootFall, practices can accelerate their productivity by encouraging patients to do more online; whether that is from asking the practice a question to accessing national or local support. Patients themselves gain the ability through FootFall to get the answers they need without having to take time out of their day to book and attend appointments unnecessarily.

Silicon Practice is governed under the same regulations as any healthcare app or service, and we work with our Compliance Officer and Clinical Safety Officer extensively to ensure patient information is kept secure.

The takeaway message here is that regardless of the app, device, or service your GP practice is using, there are strict regulations in place that are forever evolving and strengthening. Health apps are the future of our healthcare system and work effectively to enhance practice workload balance, patient satisfaction, and a patients control over their own care.

 

Written by Sophie Norman

Apprenticeships – the next best thing?

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Apprenticeships – the next best thing?

With the daunting question of “what next?” looming over A Level students, the question stands as to whether apprenticeships are a viable alternative for current students in comparison to university, as well as companies eager to expand their workforce. Apprenticeships have now evolved exponentially alongside the attitude towards them, and they are now being seen as a replacement of conventional higher education.

At one stage an apprenticeship existed purely for the trades – plumbing, roofing, etc, however the development of schemes within companies has allowed the market to be opened for a lot more opportunities. At Silicon Practice this year we have fully embraced this opportunity and strongly believe in the benefits of on-the-job learning to better your future. After speaking with our Operations Director Jane Oddy, she has provided some insight into how we feel on the subject:

“We are growing our business and have decided that we need to have a mix of experienced professionals and also inexperienced people who we can develop and immerse into our ethos.  

There are a number of business benefits in selecting an apprenticeship programme, but the key advantage to Silicon Practice is that it is helping us to improve the breadth of skills we have in our company. We are finding that coaching new people is encouraging us to look at the way we do things which has led to us making improvements in our processes and way we work as a team.  The apprentices we have selected are eager to learn, their commitment is second to none and their work has been outstanding.”

We have now recruited two apprentices in our company. Erin is our Business Administration Apprentice and is receiving mentoring from our Office Manager Charlotte. Charlotte is extremely positive about our apprenticeship scheme, stating:

“My experience so far with having a Business Administration Apprentice has been nothing but positive. I think that apprenticeship courses are an excellent way of gaining skills, knowledge, and learning whilst gaining relevant workplace experience.  Erin is enthusiastic, hands-on, and has already made a huge contribution to the team.  By employing an apprentice, we have been able to provide training that is appropriate and relevant to our company and our future plans.”

We are also lucky to have Nathan our Apprentices DevOps Engineer on board, too! Nathan enjoys working to consolidate his learning instead of a more structured academic environment, praising the combination of pre-college work and job training.

“You get a feel for the job alongside learning, which helps in understanding the career you have chosen. Also, for me, I enjoy working too much so learning and being able to earn at the same time is very beneficial in my position.”

Whether you are looking for on the job experience, or as a company want to encourage young people to get involved in your business, apprenticeships are an exciting alternative that will be an asset going forward for everyone involved.

 

Written by Sophie Norman

How Footfall fits into surgery life

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How Footfall fits into surgery life

With practices already busy dealing with patient requests and the everyday workload, we are often asked how FootFall fits in. How effective is it at freeing up precious resources? This month’s story is an interview with Ali Sayers an Administrator at Strawberry Hill Medical Centre on how FootFall impacts her day.

 

An Interview with Strawberry Hill Medical Centre

In April last year, Strawberry Hill was born from the merger of two Practices in Newbury who moved into new premises and became Strawberry Hill Medical Centre, catering for 21,500 patients.

On moving day itself, the new practice also switched across to using a FootFall website. Ali admits doing everything in one go was daunting but successful, and the assistance provided by the FootFall website has been an invaluable addition to the new practice.

“We do not do things by halves,” said Ali. “We decided that moving across to FootFall at the same time would work, and it did. We went with a FootFall site, because Silicon Practice already provided a website for one of the practices which came into the merger, and we were impressed by what FootFall could potentially offer.”

Ali is responsible for looking after patient requests that come via FootFall, which can number anything from a handful a day or 20 to 30 that arrive overnight.

But dealing with them is a speedy and simple process, and fits easily into Ali’s workload. Ali applies the same methodology that would be applied to a phone call: it is dealt with or referred onwards.

“I check FootFall first thing in the morning and then at intervals throughout the day,” said Ali. “Processing the enquiries that come in is straightforward. Probably about 70 per cent need to be referred up to a doctor and around 30 per cent I can deal with, and this doesn’t include the requests for repeat prescriptions which are dealt with by a colleague.

“The doctors say that they can process three or four FootFall enquiries in the time it takes to see a patient, so as well as channelling enquiries away from them, those that they deal with can be done quickly.”

The enquiries that need a doctor’s attention are forwarded on by Ali, via the practice’s internal clinical system.

When patients put an enquiry through, they receive an automated reply telling them they will receive a response within a set time frame. In practice, Ali is able to deal with most enquiries within the day. Indeed, sometimes she responds within minutes.

Patients say they appreciate the convenience of the service, which they can access at any time, and also the speed of the responses.

Ali said: “Our doctors are very good at mentioning the FootFall service to patients as a way of promoting it to them. Those who are already using it are extremely positive and tell the doctors they like it.”

So does Ali have any advice for fellow professionals who are launching, or considering launching, a FootFall website?

“We really love having FootFall, as you can tell. I’d just suggest people make the most of it and remember it can evolve,” she said. “Since we introduced FootFall we’ve added on asthma review forms, alcohol screening and smoking screening. This all saves us time and the patients appreciate not having to come into the surgery unnecessarily.

“Here in Newbury, we have a centralised maternity hub, which all pregnancies are referred to. So pregnant women can refer themselves via FootFall, to be contacted by a midwife. So, when you’re pregnant, you no longer need to visit the doctor first!”

If you would like more information about FootFall and the results that it is achieving for other Practices, please contact the team at Silicon Practice.

Flu Vaccinations: Tips to help boost your service this season

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Flu Vaccinations: Tips to help boost your service this season

As flu vaccine targets have been increased for this year, now is a good time to promote your flu vaccination clinics. This has added impetus as there is now additional competition from other flu vaccine providers. To help you run a successful flu campaign online we’ve pulled together the following 7 tips which we hope will give you some ideas and inspiration when planning your online promotion.

Our hints and tips

  1. Sending text messages
    Using text messaging that includes a link to flu vaccine information on your website is becoming an increasingly popular way of getting a good response from patients. For instance, The Quarter Jack Surgery have sent out a text to their patients with a link to a flu form on their website inviting patients to book their flu appointment online. A similar approach has been adopted by Flitwick Surgery.
  2. Twitter campaign
    Many younger patients who fall into the clinical risk groups will engage with social media. If you are using social media as part of your online promotion, consider using popular culture references to engage different groups. An example is the above picture which references Game of Thrones.
  3. Promote positive aspects of your service
    Publicise the fact that your service is free. If you are also promoting health checks and advice that other providers don’t supply, put this in your message.  Try to avoid negative text about other providers, and instead positively explain the benefits of the service that your Practice provides.
  4. Publicise FAQ’s and myth-busters
    To encourage take up, directly address some of the myths surrounding flu vaccinations.  There are many examples online that you can utilise, such as NHS Choices.
  5. Use pictures and videos
    Incorporating pictures and videos in your messages will grab people’s attention, particularly if you are using Facebook and Twitter.
  6. Combine flu jab sessions with other events
    If you are planning to combine flu jab sessions with other events, such as talks or coffee mornings, publish this on your website. Use your Patient Group to help involve people and create news on your website or Twitter feed.
  7. Staff training
    Create a buzz internally and train your staff about your flu campaign so that any staff member can immediately answer patients’ questions. You can get help with your internal communication campaign from resources such as NHS Flu Fighter and get ideas such as videos that you can put on your website from the 2016 flu fighter award winners.
If you would like some help on promoting your flu campaigns on your website, please contact the team at Silicon Practice.

Low-down on Logos

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Low-down on Logos

At Silicon Practice we’re often asked about logo design, so we have put together some tips to help you come up with a logo which looks as good on your signage and stationery as it does on your website and social media.

 

Our hints and tips

  1. Be clear on why you need a logo 
    Most organisations and businesses use a logo to communicate instantly what their business stands for and to differentiate themselves from the competition.In an NHS environment, where most patients go to their designated GP, competition with other practices isn’t normally the issue. In this setting, a logo’s purpose is usually to create a good first impression and deliver the message that you are a professional and trusted organisation. As a first step, talk to your team about the purpose of the logo. This will provide valuable information that will help drive the design process.
  2. Select your design
    Logo designs come in many forms. Most modern logos use merely the name of their organisation in a special font with no graphic.  Just think of Coca-Cola, NHS, Sainsbury’s, eBay, YouTube and Skype.  Nike does have a graphic, its famous swoosh, but this is so memorable and simple that even when you see it without the wording you know what it represents.
  3. Keep it simple
    The example of Nike brings us to the next point about the importance of simplicity. If you do intend to use a graphic, don’t try to tell a story in your logo.  Remember your logo needs to work on all mediums so it’s best to keep the number of shapes, lines and other design elements to a minimum to make the logo as distinct and clear as possible.
  4. Size
    Keeping your logo simple will help ensure it is scalable. For example, a logo should work on something the size of a postage stamp and on something as large as exterior signage.In this day and age more people are likely to see your logo online rather than on signage and correspondence.  This means that it needs to shrink to perhaps no more than 100 pixels high. This is why major brands stick to their name as their logo, using a special font, to ensure it is digital media-friendly.
  5. Shape
    If you layer your Practice’s name on top or around the icon in your logo, then your Practice’s name can be harder to read. And if you have text such as a strapline within the icon, it will be harder to see the icon, much less grasp what it means. Separating these two elements from one another will make them both easier to read and understand.
  6. Does that come in red?
    Colour is important. Use a colour that will evoke the right feelings and mood among those who see it. If a logo requires colour or special effects to make it a strong logo, then the chances are it’s not up to scratch.Modern designs tend to use simple colour palettes with one or maybe two colours. This is because the simple colour palettes actually create the sense of “more” colour. This reductionist method of design gives each individual colour the space to shine. Think of Asda, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose.View your chosen design in black and white first and add colour later. This allows you to focus on the shape and concept rather than the special effects. Avoid using shading on a logo. It looks dated and it doesn’t photocopy well.

We hope our hints and tips give you some useful ideas to start your logo design process.

To summarise you’ll find that you can spend a lot of time designing a graphic when in fact a good logo is often represented by special font.

And just one more mention of that iconic Nike swoosh. It was designed in 1971 by a student, who was paid $35. Founder Phil Knight said “I don’t love it, but it will grow on me”!

To chat further about logo design, or website design in general, please get in touch with the team atSilicon Practice.

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