Pandemic provides catalyst for Irish healthcare sector to adopt secure digital communications tool

  • Irish take-up of specialist healthcare messaging app Siilo outstrips global average by 83% in past 12 months
  • There are now more than 10,000 Siilo users across Ireland’s healthcare sector, with an average of 32 new users per day
  • 396% increase in messages sent in past 12 months alone

The global pandemic has provided a catalyst for the rapid adoption of specialist digital communications tool, Siilo, among healthcare professionals in Ireland, according to statistics revealed today by the Dutch company. In the last 12 months, Ireland’s hospitals have seen an 83% growth in registrations for Europe’s largest medical messenger service as the urgent need for secure information sharing and faster decision-making surged in response to Covid-19.

The unique situation caused by a novel pandemic created huge demand for healthcare professionals to collaborate on treatments and learn best practices from each other. Siilo was quickly accepted as a valuable tool for enabling medical practitioners to bridge the information gap, because unlike general messaging apps, it complies with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for healthcare compliance.

Joost Bruggeman, CEO and co-founder of Siilo, believes the trajectory of growth for digital tools which support communication and collaboration will continue beyond the pandemic now that eyes have been opened to their potential. “When Covid-19 emerged, there were so many unknowns and healthcare professionals needed a secure and agile communication tool. We were pleased to be able to step in and support healthcare professionals at such a critical time.” 

Created specifically for the healthcare industry, Siilo is a messaging application that facilitates the sharing of medical information about individual patients without compromising sensitive data, which remains secure in the platform.

There are now more than 10,000 Siilo users across Ireland’s healthcare sector, with an average of 32 new users per day downloading the platform. The resulting increase in messages sent by users (396%) paints an even stronger picture of the impact the app has had over the past 12 months. This compares to an increase of 161% globally, and 253% in the UK.

Siilo Connect, the company’s offering for hospitals, associations, and other healthcare facilities, has been adopted for secure departmental collaboration by leading institutions such as Dublin’s Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, the Irish General Practice Nurses Education Association, St James’ Hospital Dublin, and Portiuncula University Hospital in Galway.

Bruggeman adds: “We believe there is a massive opportunity to drive further collaboration within the healthcare sector. We started by connecting professionals treating individual patients, but during the acute phase of the pandemic, we’ve also been able to play a critical role in connecting different levels of healthcare to facilitate faster decision-making and information-sharing. Frontline care workers, public health officials, and everyone in between are able to practice medicine together. We’re only just starting to uncover the different ways technology can facilitate collaboration and simplify workflows.”

While messenger apps are not new, the ways in which they have been used during the last 12 months, in particular, have highlighted the importance of data protection and patient confidentiality. A recent survey by the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) revealed that 88.3% of its members regularly use instant messaging apps for sharing clinical information with medical colleagues, yet 29.3% of respondents admitted they were unaware of EU data protection regulations when sharing clinical data. A further 46.7% of respondents indicated there are no regulations in place at their institution regarding the sharing clinical data via instant messaging.

Unique to Siilo is how it provides the security standards and needs specific to the industry:

  • All data is encrypted end-to-end and is not stored on servers.
  • Photos and personal data can be made unrecognizable with a special editing tool and stored in a separate app container so that they are not accidentally synchronized with cloud services.
  • Access to a fully verified medical directory is PIN-code protected.

Keith Synnott, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon in the Spinal Injuries Department at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, recognised the urgent need for a flexible and iterative messaging tool in the early days of the pandemic. As a clinical lead for trauma, he is an avid user of Siilo and during the pandemic found it useful at a national level.

“The tools we’ve used historically are rigid and don’t allow for flexibility,” he says. “During Covid there were obviously huge challenges and our needs were constantly changing. We needed a streamlined process to ensure the very best and most efficient patient care in very transient circumstances. Siilo enabled entire teams to communicate on each individual patient case, no matter where they were – from the emergency department referring doctors, referring nurses and the orthopaedic team, to theatre staff, physiotherapists and even geriatricians, and indeed between hospitals and other facilities. This enabled more effective and efficient treatment to be provided.

“If someone posts a case, they include the patient’s name, their hospital record number, photos of any relevant x-rays, and some brief clinical notes. People reply within that group and can be reassured that sensitive medical data is secured and will not fall into the wrong hands.”

The Siilo Messenger app is free for individuals and teams to coordinate patient care, expand their professional network, and significantly reduce time-to-decision by exchanging best practices. Siilo Connect is the company’s service for hospitals, care organisations, and medical associations where administrators can facilitate staff-wide collaboration on patient cases, discuss internal policies, and consult with external specialists, all while maintaining organisational compliance.


Join our audience of healthcare industry professionals

Join our audience of healthcare industry professionals