'WhatsApp-style' flu alert at Southampton trust

Clinicians at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust can now receive instant alerts to inform them if a patient has tested positive for flu and which strain they have via a new ‘WhatsApp-style’ messaging app.

Previously, infection specialists testing patient samples in the laboratory the trust would spend up to an hour calling wards to provide results. But now, a ‘bot’ which uses the Medxnote messaging app can send flu alerts along with a downloadable PDF of the results in detail to staff across Southampton’s teaching hospitals.

This means that 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.

Ben Marshall, a consultant in respiratory medicine at UHS, said: “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.”

Across England, flu and the complications associated with it cause an average of 8,000 deaths a year, with approximately 6,000 of those people with heart and lung disease.

Medxnote is designed to the replace the traditional bleep system and, during a pilot at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust 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.