PicSafe Medi adds offline, barcode and notification functions

The team behind the PicSafe Medi patient-consented clinical image capture system has added new functionality to the software, including a safe offline mode, an in-built barcode reader and generator and a notification function for urgent cases.

PicSafe Medi was launched in March last year as a way to overcome legal and privacy issues while at the same time making it easier for clinicians to take and share medical images. It consists of an app for iOS and Android that allows a photo to be taken and sent to a secure cloud repository, where authorised users can view the photos for a limited time, as well as the ability to record written and spoken consent from the patient.

Photos are automatically removed from the device and can be attached to the patient's record within the hospital setting through the UR number. It is secured by iWebGate, which offers a virtual network “demilitarised zone” between the user and the public internet.

While the product is also aimed at private practitioners, the PicSafe Medi team has been doing a lot of research and development for the institutional market. Chris Gillard, CEO and creative director of brand communications and technology development firm ProjectProject and a developer of PicSafe Medi, said the company had been conducting trials with several hospitals and consequently added new functionality for the sector.

One is an offline mode that is aimed at overcoming connectivity problems for medics out in the field. Normally the photo is immediately sent to the PicSafe Medi servers and removed from the phone, but if the user is unable to connect wirelessly, the new function will encrypt the photo and keep it on the device until connectivity is restored.

“For example, if you are in a helicopter and you've taken a photo of a burn, and you try to send it to someone at hospital but you are offline, then the individual images are encrypted on the phone,” Mr Gillard said.

“The image is on the phone because it can't go anywhere but it is encrypted so that it is totally secure. What the system does then is it keeps searching for connectivity regularly, so every few minutes it will ping to see if it will hit the server.

“If that happens then you get an alert that basically says 'we are back online, should I send the image now?' You can elect to keep that image encrypted on the phone or you can send it immediately.”

The offline mode is also useful for institutional settings with patchy wireless and other blackspot problems, he said.

There is also a new notification function that lets users know when the recipient of the photo has viewed it. If it is an urgent case, this allows the user to send it to an alternative contact if the intended recipient is not available.

“If you have sent the photo but they haven't looked at it, you get a notification back saying the recipient hasn't view the image,” Mr Gillard said. “If you really need a fast response you can elect to send it to someone else. You also get a notification that it has been viewed.”

The app also now comes with a zoom function, so users can take both wide shots and close detail, although the capability of this function depends on the quality of the camera phone.

PicSafe Medi now also comes with a built-in barcode reader, so institutional users can scan the barcode to bring up the patient's details and they no longer need to type in the UR number. For private practices, there is also a barcode generator now built in, meaning administration staff can pre-generate barcodes for that day's patients and the system can scan the barcode if and when each patient 's surgical site or area of concern is photographed.

Mr Gillard said PicSafe Medi was also working on building an admin dashboard for institutions that will function as a centralised archive management system. Whenever a clinician within the hospital takes a clinical photo, it is sent to PicSafe Medi and then centrally archived in that institution's account.

Nominated people can receive an alert each time a new image is added to the archive, and PicSafe Medi also offers an individual domain name for each institution archive.

Since PicSafe Medi's release last year there have been a number of clinical photo capture apps released on the market, but Mr Gillard believes PicSafe Medi’s strong patient consent capability, which is the patented feature, is the largest and most valuable differentiator.

“The good thing about PicSafe Medi is that the functionality crosses all of the markets without adding to the complexity and the interface,” he said. “A lot of it is back-end smarts but that doesn't make it hard to use. It's very quick and easy to use and takes less than 30 seconds or fewer if you have the barcode reader going as well.

“But while it is very fast to use I think that central to it is consent. If you've got a system that doesn't handle adequately the consent issue, then you are potentially hanging yourself out to dry. There is going to be trouble if you do not consent people properly. It can't be implied – it has to be specific. It has to be written or audio or a combination of both, which PicSafe Medi allows.

“Then it has to be legally auditable and the whole thing has to be incredibly secure as well, which is where iWebGate comes in.”

In addition to allowing institutions and private practices to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), Mr Gillard said PicSafe Medi can also save institutions money through eliminating unnecessary dressing changes and analgesics as one example of many potential savings. The company is investigating the potential to contract a research firm to study the economic benefits of the product.

“Over 12 months and 400,000 patients across your network of hospitals, those little things all add up,” he said. “We are going to uncover a lot of dormant value in something this simple.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

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