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  • Connect

    Issue 16

  • A doctor’s life


    WhatsApp doc?

    Dr Vikram Balakrishnan

    Dr Vikram Balakrishnan

    MBBS, BMedSc, Dip. Surgical Anat, FRACS, CSSANZ

    Colorectal and general surgeon



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    For all the fantastic technology advances in medicine, the pager is still a mainstay tool for doctors. Along with the use of faxes, the pager had a few advantages that were not being superseded by newer technologies – but this is changing.

    The advent of social media brought a multitude of new communication applications, each with their own features that made them suitable for a variety of interactions. WhatsApp is one that provided solutions to annoying issues that complicated provision of good patient care in hospitals. Clinical teams could now readily contact each other as distinct groups using their personal ubiquitous smartphones.

    Although not officially endorsed by hospitals, the use of private messaging apps has been allowed to continue without too much question. In fact, research shows over 95% of doctors currently use such platforms to coordinate care1.  

    Privacy a key concern

    Changes to WhatsApp’s privacy settings earlier this year, with a link to parent company Facebook threatening transfer of data, made users think twice about its continued use.

    Other tools such as Signal and Telegram were flagged as alternatives, offering better security but ultimately similar functionality. These platforms masked the greater challenge for doctors, which was to have an application to support their daily workflow. Secure messaging is just one part of the overall puzzle, but what about all the other problems? Accurate live rostering, knowing who is on-call for each hospital, department and specialty, taking and sending secure clinical photos and managing day-to-day tasks are just some of the prevalent problems a smartphone solution needed to address.

    More than messaging

    Doctors want practical solutions to enhance how they work.

    I saw the challenges doctors were facing and worked with technology entrepreneurs to bring it to life. Together, we developed myBeepr. In addition to being able to securely communicate with an individual or entire care team simultaneously, we provided doctors with a raft of customised features that created value over and above what they had previously been used to.

    On myBeepr, every healthcare professional in your hospital is in your contact list with a verified healthcare professionals’ profile. It is therefore simple to find other healthcare workers in your organisation based on the hospital site, specialty or role. We added a live on-call roster so users can instantly see who is available for every specialty. Each user controls their own status from their own device, so they can let other team members know whether they’re available, busy or away.

    Secure clinical photography was a highly requested feature, so we allow doctors to take photos using myBeepr, tag them with the relevant patient details, clinical information and informed consent, and share them with other doctors in their organisation. The photo card is encrypted and not accessible via the phone gallery, protecting the doctor against unauthorised access.

    We have been using myBeepr at St George Hospital in Sydney and Western Health in Victoria. Both organisations have seen an uptake of over 90% among doctors, with more than 100,000 messages being read and several hundred photos being shared weekly. I’m so pleased Avant has backed this doctor-driven initiative. We really are seeing it improving the communication between healthcare professionals and the level of patient care.

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    MyBeepr is a communication tool for modern medical teams, developed in partnership with Avant.
    Find out more: myBeeper.com



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