Clinicians at University Hospital Southampton (UHS) NHS Foundation Trust are now able to receive instant alerts to inform them if a patient has tested positive for flu and which strain they have.

The IT team at the trust developed a ‘bot’ which uses the Medxnote messaging app to send flu alerts along with a downloadable PDF of the results in detail.

This means staff are able to ensure prompt isolation and management of those affected to speed up access to appropriate treatment and reduce the spread of the virus to other patients.

Medxnote is designed to the replace the traditional bleep system and, during a pilot at UHS within two surgical teams last year, 400 messages were sent each day which saved clinicians 26 hours of time in the first week of use.

Prior to the app, infection specialists testing patient samples in the laboratory at UHS would spend up to an hour calling wards to provide results.

Helen Harrison, Medxnote project manager at UHS, said: “We needed to provide modern and versatile ways for staff to communicate quickly and securely across increasingly complex working patterns.

“Medxnote has already transformed communication in the trust and, with advances such as our custom-made flu alert, it could prove to be the start of a revolution in communication across the wider NHS.”

Once a clinician is signed in to Medxnote on their own smartphone, they are able to securely contact colleagues with questions about individual patients and share confidential information and images.

They then log out at the end of their shift and no data is saved or stored on their device.

Dr Ben Marshall, a consultant in respiratory medicine at UHS, added: The introduction of the flu alert and the level of detail it provides instantaneously is a significant development which has the potential to vastly improve the management of patients with influenza in hospital.

“Prompt management and, where necessary, isolation of patients suffering from flu and an understanding of the type of virus is essential in ensuring both their own safety and that of others, so any development that speeds up the process is much-needed.”

UHS is one of 16 trusts named as part of the NHS England’s Global Digital Exemplar (GDE) programme, which aims to create a group of reference sites for NHS digitisation.

In October 2018, the trust gave an update of the technologies that have been introduced across the organisation as part of the programme to Rafael Sorribas, clinical lead for NHS Digital.