Cape Town e-health startup secures contract from UK’s NHS

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South African e-health startup Healthcent, which is behind the Signapps messaging platform, has won a contract with the United Kingdom’s National Health Services (NHS) to provide its software as a service (SaaS) communication platform for the management of clinical communication to NHS Trusts.

Healthcare providers use Signapps to confidentially communicate and share clinical updates on patients, enabling appropriate responses by practitioners in real-time as well as facilitating more generalised communication relating to logistical and administrative matters between teams. 

The advantage of Signapps, particularly in the treatment of patients with COVID-19, is that only essential workers need to be physically present with the patient, allowing other members of the care team to collaborate in real time remotely.

Since its launch three years ago, the messaging platform has built a strong local track record, having been established in numerous areas, including the Chris Hani Baragwanath Paediatric Burns Unit, stroke units within the Life Hospital group, and sub-acute care. Having recently, on a pro-bono basis, worked within state hospitals to keep healthcare workers safe, it has now secured a significant international deal with the NHS.

A tender published on June 19 by the UK government said the COVID-19 pandemic had “accelerated the need to urgently deliver on Britain’s Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s long-standing plan to phase out pagers by the end of 2021”.  The target date has been brought forward significantly because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK, with the tender awarded to Signapps six weeks after being published.

NHS Trusts will be able to procure Signapps’ services through a framework agreement which has a list value of GBP3 million (US$4 million) and will run for a period of two years with a potential extension for 12 months.

“The contract with the NHS is a major coup for us, as a South African company, proving that our product engineering teams can create products to compete with the very best internationally,” said Andrew Davies, chief executive officer (CEO) of Signapps.

He said because most of the development involved in fulfilling the NHS contract will be done in South Africa, the contract will provide work opportunities for those with software engineering and development skills.

“There was an excellent fit between the requirements of the NHS tender and the Signapps messaging platform, including GDPR compliant platform features and points of integration to NHS active directory and Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems. Said features and integrations enable staff to share clinical information quickly and securely with the minimum of friction,” Davies said.

“The award shows that our platform, already proven to be effective in South Africa, can stand up to international scrutiny and be selected for use in one of the world’s biggest national health systems. I am proud of everyone, both inside and outside our company, who has played a role in developing Signapps to this point.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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