App just what doctor ordered for Bara paediatric burn unit

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
Image: Katherine Muick © Sunday Times.

An app designed to improve communication between hospital staff has been hailed as a success by doctors at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital paediatric burn unit.

Signapps Serve is a mobile application that allows doctors, nurses and physiotherapists to create profiles of patients and the care they receive under their watch.

The app, which was created by Healthcent, is now free to use in the public health sector.

Paediatric burn unit head Dr Ronnell Parkhurst said medical staff had been using the app since 2018.

“The app has allowed us to have fluid communication between the medical team.

“Because each person on the team is able to upload information on the patient we don’t have to sift through information,” she said.

Parkhurst said before the app, doctors would communicate via WhatsApp, which was not the most efficient way of operating.

“This method was also not very secure. Pictures and information could have possibly landed in the wrong hands,” she said.

The doctor said her unit received 600 patients a year under the age of 10 with burns that were bigger than 10% of their body.

“Most of the patients we admit are burnt by hot water, followed by flames and then we see cases like electrical burns,” Parkhurst said.

She said the hospital served a big population and she had noticed a close correlation between burn injuries and socioeconomic status.

Through the app, patients’ information is readily available in digital format, which relieves pressure on medical staff.

“Another thing is that even when a doctor or a nurse is not at the hospital, they can comment on the app to help those who are at the hospital with a difficult case,” Parkhurst said.

“Regardless of hierarchy, you can get opinions and keep doctors aware of what is happening with their patient in real time.”

Parkhurst said she hoped all hospitals and units would make use of the app, especially to improve hospital record-keeping.

Since the official launch of the app a number of hospitals, including the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, have shown interest.

“The overwhelming response from the public sector to the launch of this package has meant that we are having to prioritise implementation,” Healthcent CEO Andrew Davies said.