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Canterbury extends roll-out of secure messaging app

Monday, 16 April 2018  
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eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth


PICTURE: Christchurch Hospital consultant plastic surgeon Jeremy Simcock using the Celo messaging app.


The cloud-based app enables secure communication of images such as burn or wound injuries to speed up diagnostic and treatment decision making. 


A secure messaging app is being extended to all Canterbury health-service providers following a successful pilot in Christchurch Hospital.


Celo allows medical professionals to communicate with each other, send documents and photographs, and safely share patient details within a secure, encrypted digital network.


Christchurch Hospital’s Department of Plastic Surgery started piloting and testing the app in 2015 and it is now being used across Canterbury DHB as well as at Nurse Maude and is being piloted at some GP practices and Pacific Radiology.


Christchurch Hospital consultant plastic surgeon Jeremy Simcock says that while medical images are part of the medical record, there is another group of images that are taken on a more ad hoc basis to assist decision making in an acute environment.


For example, registrars in the plastics department often take pictures of injuries such as burns or wounds to share with a consultant for advice.


Previously, while doctors had phones to take the images, they had no secure network to send them on.


“The CDHB recognised that it was useful to patients to have those images being communicated, but it needed to be secure. That’s why Celo developed the app, and we piloted it and showed it practically worked and was easy to use, as that was the key thing to get right,” Simcock tells


“It effectively means registrars have an on-call consultant closer to them because they can get more information to them straight away. For patients, the decisions being made about their acute care are being made with better information and more rapidly.”


Celo has been rolled out across Christchurch Hospital, meaning Simcock can communicate securely and in real time with staff from other departments who are on the network.


For example, a dermatologist who does surgery on a Tuesday sends images to Simcock to prepare for his reconstruction surgery on the same patient the following day.


Staff can also see what an injury looked like a number of days beforehand, and Celo is being used for handover among doctors, he adds.


Information is tagged with a patient’s National Health Identifier, the name of the person who took the image and the time it was taken.


Celo is cloud-based, so no information is stored on the doctor’s device. Work is underway to link the images from Celo into the patient’s clinical record and is expected to be completed this year.


“It’s a very effective way of transferring visual information and it’s secure,” Simcock says, adding that the user experience is very good and similar to other familiar messaging apps.


Celo chief executive Stephen Vlok says discussions are underway with DHBs around the country about using Celo.


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