Guy and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust has signed a two-year contract with DocCom, a provider of a cloud-based social networking platform for healthcare organisations.

The deal will deliver DocCom’s secure communication and collaboration platform and Alert application, which aims to improve the delivery of critical safety information to doctors.

Speaking to eHealth Insider, Dr Jonathan Bloor, co-founder and medical director of the company and a surgeon at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, said the system aimed to tackle the “core and fundamental communication problem” that exists in the NHS.

“Unfortunately we (Dr Bloor and co-founder Dr Jonathon Shaw) have seen in our clinical lives patients come to significant harm due to a breakdown in communication,” he said.

“We have come to the realisation that we are using archaic technology that is not conducive to effective and safe team working.

“Whichever sector you are involved in, be it primary or secondary care, whatever angle you are looking from, effective communications are fundamental to the delivery of the service.”

The system works in a “walled-garden” networking platform to make sure it complies with security and information governance requirements, and has functionality to enable staff to find, communicate and share with other people in the network.

DocCom Alert allows healthcare organisations to fast-track patient safety updates and operational alerts to frontline staff, which are then transmitted to the doctors via their chosen method of communication, be it web, email or SMS messaging.

“It’s a mechanism essentially driven by marketing principles,” said Dr Bloor. “It’s about how rapidly you can get the information out to an individual and how you can track what has happened to that information.

“If you don’t have that insight, then it’s very difficult to know where the starting point is and where to improve the process.”

The platform was first piloted with the National Patient Safety Agency in 2010, which analysed the organisation’s approach to “disseminating critical information” to frontline clinicians.

Dr Bloor said that originally only 5% of critical rapid alerts ever reached clinicians, which increased to 50% engagement during the pilot.

He said that the company is to release a version of the platform for mobile phone users in six weeks. This will initially be available to users of Apple’s iOS platform, before a full version is released, and then extended to Android.

“We have a big vision, which is to provide the communication platform for healthcare and to revolutionise the way we, in the UK, co-ordinate in healthcare.

"It is around applying the technology that is available in other sectors and in our personal lives and applying that in a very healthcare specific setting.”

DocCom is already in use at University Hospitals Bristol and is currently being implemented at NHS Lothian. Implementation at Guys and St Thomas’ is set to commence shortly.

“It’s one of the UK’s leading trusts and it is in the same position as every other trust in the UK in looking at how it can make the organisation even safer and looking at what’s out there to help them enable that,” Dr Bloor added.