He’s an accidental tech entrepreneur who has just overseen the roll-out of his pager-busting platform in a third hospital, but when Dr Andrew Yap graduated from medical school seven years ago he imagined a career as an emergency and intensive care clinician.
It was his frustration with the way patient care was coordinated in hospitals that lead him to launch technology company Medtasker in April 2017 and it is now poised to change the way staff communicate.
Last month, Medtasker completed the implementation of its mobile communication and task management platform at the 150-bed Broadmeadows Hospital in Victoria where it has been deployed to improve information sharing, hospital efficiency and patient safety.
Yap said the idea of Medtasker came to him during a hospital night shift.
“I received a pager message that said bed 23 had low blood pressure but the problem with pagers is they often don’t cover important details such as who the patient is, where they’re located in the hospital, what is wrong, or how to get further information,” he said.
“The meaning of low blood pressure is very different for a 19-year-old female and a 90-year-old man. Not having the right information is incredibly dangerous and can inadvertently cause harm to a patient.”
Yap said his frustrations were widespread among doctors, nursing staff, the hospital switchboard and even the IT department.
“As I worked in other hospitals, I could see that pagers were just the tip of the iceberg – there were so many interconnected communication and coordination issues amongst clinical staff that were being handled incredibly poorly,” he said.
“Whiteboard messages, post-it notes, paper task lists and unhelpfully incomplete pager messages still bounce around between doctors, nurses and other clinical staff. That’s why doctors are often resorting to WhatsApp.”
In 2014, Andrew partnered with Bernard Duchesne, a 20-year enterprise IT veteran. Together with a team of designers and developers they spent more than two years building, testing and trialling the Medtasker platform.
“We built Medtasker with a focus on security and privacy given the integration with core clinical IT systems. But the driving force was always to create a tool that hospital staff needed and actually wanted to use.”
Yap, who is now CEO of the technology company, also continues to perform shifts as a registrar a few days a month and has worked in 25 hospitals in different states. Maintaining his connection to clinical settings has provided him with insights he has taken back to Medtasker, which has also been implemented in the 400-bed Northern Hospital in Melbourne and Brisbane’s 150-bed Redland Hospital.
Since adopting Medtasker, one hospital reported a 27 per cent improvement in timely after-hours clinical reviews, meaning patients were seen faster. Now 30 hospitals nationwide are in talks with the company about implementing the system.
Medtasker is also exploring complementary sales partnerships and may take additional investment to allow it to reach hospitals faster.
“The hospital sector is generally risk averse and for good reason,” Yap said.
“They want to prevent harm to patients. However, accepting the status quo may be doing more harm than good.
“Our mission is to make Medtasker the de facto standard for modern hospital communication and care coordination. We know it is a critical step forward towards a world where the best care is provided to all patients, all of the time.”
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