PicSafe Medi launches free version for secure clinical images
The developers behind the PicSafe Medi secure mobile medical image system have released a free version to encourage wider use of the app, which allows clinicians to take, transmit and store clinical photos that are then automatically removed from the mobile device.
PicSafe Medi was launched in March 2013 to allow doctors and medical students to safely take and share clinical images on their mobile devices while still complying with legal and privacy regulations relating to the identification of patients in clinical images and to make it easier to gain and record patient consent.
The concept was developed by plastic surgeon David Hunter-Smith, burns specialist Heather Cleland and dermatologist Ted Carner in association with technology firm ProjectProject, with the first model released in 2013 and extra functionality such as an encrypted offline mode, a built-in barcode reader and a notification function for urgent cases added last year.
Now, the company has decided to release both a free and a 'pro' version aimed at getting it used more widely. The decision was also prompted by the release of guidelines last November on clinical images and the use of personal mobile devices, developed by the Australian Medical Association (AMA) in association with the Medical Indemnity Industry Association of Australia.
Those guidelines warn doctors and medical students that clinical images are considered the same as other health information and must be treated with the same privacy and confidentiality. The guidelines also outline the requirements for storing and sharing clinical images, which should be deleted from mobile devices after saving them to the medical record.
Hospitals and health services around the country have strict rules on the storage and sharing of clinical images, with privately practitioners also required under privacy and ethical guidelines to safely store them.
PicSafe Medi Pro allows users to take an image which is then sent to and stored securely in the cloud. Users can then send a message to authorised colleagues containing a dynamically generated, time-limited link to the photo.
The images are also linked to the patient's medical record in the hospital setting and can be integrated into clinical software in private practice. They are also archived for the required amount of time – seven years for adults and 25 years for minors.
Patient consent for a photo to be taken and shared can also be captured through the app, both written and oral.
PicSafe Medi product development manager Kerri-Anne Hall said that while the Pro version, which costs $5 per user per month or $50 per user per year, had added extras such as an archiving function not available for the free version, the idea was to get as many clinicians using the system as possible.
“We want it to be a useable tool for clinicians and we know it is, but primarily the main reason is to get it out there and being used,” Ms Hall said.
The system has been trialled or is undergoing trials in a number of major hospitals in Victoria and Queensland as well as in diabetic foot and wound management clinics, but as with all public health services, there is a long procurement time.
Ms Hall said the company wanted both hospital-based and private practitioners to begin using the system now.
“Clinicians like Dr Carner and Dr Hunter-Smith pretty much have to assume responsibility for their residents and registrars,” she said. “That makes them nervous that people are still using their mobile phones and iPads to capture images.
“With the AMA guidelines, people are starting to call us in panic saying they've got to get something in place. We've also got a lot of people who want to put the free version in place and trial that for some time and get feedback from clinicians.”
The free version of the app has the same functionality as the Pro version but the photos will be automatically deleted from the PicSafe Medi server after seven days, meaning there will be no search or archiving capability. However, users will receive a PDF report via email for every photo taken.
Ms Hall said one health service was proposing to allow photos to be emailed to the hospital's health information services to be printed out and scanned in to the medical record. The image will be removed immediately from the device and from the server after seven days.
With the Pro version, the photos can be tagged and stored indefinitely, meaning they are searchable for research purposes.
“Then you can search and bring up any photos taken by a particular doctor or any patients from a particular postcode or with a particular condition,” she said.
The PicSafe Medi app is available for iOS and Android and the free version will be available from next week. The AMA's Clinical images and the use of personal mobile devices guidelines are available from the AMA website.
Posted in Australian eHealth