AN innovative free medical app that helps to improve patient care has proved a surprise internet hit after recording more than 100,000 downloads.
The SIGN (Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network) guideline app provides at-a-glance advice to doctors and clinicians on what kind of care patients should expect when they are being treated for particular medical conditions, such as on hospital wards and at GP surgeries.
SIGN, part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland, writes guidelines which give advice to healthcare professionals and patients about the best available treatments, based on the most up-to-date evidence gathered.
Three years ago SIGN chair, Professor John Kinsella, consultant for Intensive Care at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, recognised the potential of an app as a way of using the SIGN guidelines to promote better patient care in Scotland.
The app has proven to be hugely popular having been downloaded in excess of 101,000 times – and although Scotland accounts for the largest number of users, several thousand downloads have also been made by healthcare professionals across the world.
Professor Kinsella said: “The original idea was to move away from using paper-based guidelines or having to log into a website, giving doctors and clinicians much wider and less time-consuming access to important information while they are with a patient.
“In healthcare, time is precious. So it’s been vital to embrace technology and the ever-developing digital world to optimise that time.
“It’s fantastic to hear so many healthcare professionals – and their patients – are now benefitting from the app.
“It is also very encouraging to see Scottish innovation in patient care being so widely supported by healthcare professionals from around the world who have also downloaded the app.”
Since it launched the app – which is available for iPhone, iPad, iPad Touch and Android phones and tablets – has been regularly enhanced to offer information on more conditions, while also making it more intuitive and user-friendly.
The app also now contains quick reference guides covering cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke, child health, mental health, surgery and sexually transmitted diseases.
Although SIGN’s work is targeted at healthcare professionals, SIGN also creates patients versions of the guidelines and there has been around 15,000 downloads of the three patient apps developed so far.
Professor Kinsella, who is also Head of Section of Anaesthesia, Pain & Critical Care Medicine at University Of Glasgow, added: “One big advantage of the SIGN app is that these guidelines are easy to access by members of the public. If you have a certain condition, it’s obviously very useful to be able to look up what care you should expect.
“This can empower patients and makes for more informed discussions between doctors and patients.”
About SIGN and Healthcare Improvement Scotland
SIGN was set up in 1993 to develop evidence-based guidelines for the NHS in Scotland across a wide range of clinical fields. The guidelines have played a crucial role in promoting changes and advancements in healthcare knowledge and treatment that have helped to improve patients’ lives in NHS facilities across Scotland.
Healthcare Improvement Scotland is a health body created by the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 with the key responsibility to help NHSScotland and independent healthcare providers deliver high quality, evidence based, safe, effective and person-centred care; and to scrutinise services to provide public assurance about the quality and safety of that care.
To read the full guideline, go to: www.sign.ac.uk.
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