App built by NHS surgeon ensures patient access to specialist care during lockdown

Published: 6-May-2020

Cinapsis digital triage platform helps assess patients remotely, relieving pressure on hospitals

A health tech platform is reducing pressure on hospital services by enabling GPs and paramedics to screen COVID-19 patients in collaboration with specialists via an app.

Cinapsis, a digital triage platform founded by NHS surgeon, Owain Rhys Hughes, enables patients to be assessed by specialists as part of their GP appointment or 999 call response, enabling clinicians to pool their expertise and work together to support patients remotely.

The platform connects primary care clinicians such as GPs and community lead nurses with consultants from local NHS trusts who can provide advice about a patient’s management in real time, including using images.

This enables assessments to be made in situ, reducing unnecessary person-to-person contact and patient trips to hospital.

With health professionals keen to stress that anyone with health worries should still seek help, the app means patients can continue to access consultant advice as part of their GP appointment.

In Gloucestershire, for example, Cinapsis is being used across the One Gloucestershire Integrated Care System (ICS) which includes Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Gloucestershire Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group and all of its 73 GP practices.

Thanks to this, some 32% of patients with suspected COVID-19 whose GPs or paramedics were able to offer alternatives to hospital care were instead managed at home, relieving pressure on the NHS at this critical time.

The platform is playing a key part in Gloucestershire’s COVID-19 response strategy by ensuring that patients in most need get the best advice quickly and appropriately.

Dr Hughes explains: “At this critical time, Cinapsis is making it easier for GPs and emergency healthcare workers to quickly identify the best course of action for any patient exhibiting symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, whether that’s sending them to hospital or ensuring they receive the care they need within their community.

“Local specialists can respond to questions from their colleagues in seconds and ensure decisions are made quickly, seamlessly and in the patient’s best interests.”

Dr Malcolm Gerald, lead GP on the Cinapsis project in Gloucestershire, adds: “Not only are we helping to reassure and better manage our patients by giving them the benefit of specialist advice, we are also reducing demand on busy hospitals by making properly-informed decisions.

“Our data shows that following discussion with a specialist around a third of COVID-19 patients whose referring clinician had significant concerns about them did not need to be admitted to hospital.

“This has reduced unnecessary patient, family and staff exposure to the virus, while keeping important bed space free for those most in need.”

Cinapsis is a smart referral system which uses a mobile or desktop app to seamlessly put primary care clinicians in direct contact with the right specialist via their mobile phone or a landline. It can also allow messages, images and video to be used – and all in a data-secure environment.

The referrer can make a single call, receive the best-available advice, forward summary documents to the specialist, and arrange transport if needed.

And specialists can manage their rotas with ease, respond to calls quickly from wherever they are and then forward relevant information to the receiving department, sharing work across their team and prioritising cases.

All advice is recorded and an electronic letter summarising the consultation is sent to the patient’s GP practice.

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