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
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
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.