My first published iPad app is now available on the App Store for free.

Almost a year ago, I met with Dr Grant Franklin of Raigmore Hospital in Inverness. We’d worked together before on a tablet PC program many moons ago. That project never got further than the pilot stage, but Dr Franklin was impressed enough with my work to ask me to collaborate on a new idea. His idea was to create a program which supported clinicians in diagnosing sepsis, then allow them to track the six steps taken to address the condition. At the time, I hadn’t heard of the concept of the Sepsis Six, but since then it has received considerable publicity, including a national BBC news broadcast (and website item). To quote Dr Franklin’s  guidance notes, “If we give 4 patients with septic shock antibiotics on arrival in hospital rather than 4 hours later, we will save at least one life”.

Using Dr Franklin’s diagrams and documentation as a guide, I put together an early version which showed some promise, so Dr Franklin sought and obtained some funding from NES. There then followed many months of redesign and refinement as Dr Franklin guided me through all the details of how the app should work. Here’s an outline of what it does:

  • Record some basic clerking information, such as the patient’s name and when they first started showing symptoms.
  • Calculate the SEWS and SIRS scores from observations and lab results. These scores help the clinician decide whether a patient has sepsis or not.
  • A full-screen countdown timer which counts down from 60 minutes, with a “race-track” displaying when the sepsis actions were taken. The idea is that this countdown timer can be displayed on the “sepsis trolley” on the ward. (The trolley holds all the equipment required to carry out the Sepsis Six.)

We agreed right from the outset that the app should be free, and so it is. I’m really proud of the quality of my work on this app. It’s my great hope that it also proves useful to clinicians.

Hundreds of hours of work went into creating the app over the past 11 months. I’m grateful to my wife for her encouragement, design ideas and especially her tolerance of the many weekends listening to me curse and tear out my hair in front of the computer. I also owe thanks to the following people for their help: NES for the funding which has allowed us to make it a free resource; Andy Walker for working out the trigonometry for me; Sue Cousins for the many hours of testing she put in; George Rendall for pointing out the deficiencies in the documentation and helping with the testing; my colleagues Tom and Derek at NHS Orkney for putting up with the frequent, over-enthusiastic demonstrations of new features; and my colleagues in NHS Highland who helped Dr Franklin get the beta versions of the app installed on his iPad; Dr Mulholland of NHS Lanarkshire for pushing me to find a better way of delivering beta test versions. (If you’re embarking on a beta test of your own, I highly recommend using Testflight from the start because it will save you a lot of grief.)

As with any software, this app is a work in progress. Please let us know how we can improve.

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