The use of Siilo, the secure messaging service for healthcare providers, has increased significantly in recent weeks. Different groups of medical specialists use the platform to exchange information related to the outbreak of COVID-19.
A group of approximately 150 infectious disease specialists, a group of 150 pulmonologists, and “hundreds” of groups of general practitioners also use the app. “We are now growing five times faster than normal, which was already fast. There were already 150,000 Dutch healthcare providers on the platform, but two thousand per day are now being added,” says co-founder Joost Bruggeman.
“In these times, all doctors need to be able to share and request information quickly. We have email, telephone, and fax, of course, but it is difficult to make calls between doctors, especially now. It is very busy. In addition, some doctors, such as GGD doctors (public healthcare doctors), often have to repeat themselves to other doctors. Now they can share information to everyone at once. The latest insights, scientific research, logistics questions; everything is shared quickly.”
Internist and infectious disease specialist Willemijn Kortmann (Noordwest Hospital Group) has been a Siilo member since the start of the Corona outbreak in the Netherlands. “It helps enormously that infectious disease specialists in the Netherlands share as much useful information as possible about recent publications, clinical experiences, logistics, and so on. We are able to ask colleagues who are already ahead of us on the treatment path. It is about scaling up, stopping elective care, establishing a testing policy for employees — and also about patients with COVID-19, all of whom can, of course, be anonymised on the app. Siilo is valuable because everything is moving so fast now. ”
Siilo was co-founded four years ago by Joost Bruggeman, who was a surgery resident. The messaging service is a safer alternative to the widely-used WhatsApp and has been used in recent years by many healthcare providers, especially larger groups of general practitioners. But a real breakthrough was delayed, says Bruggeman, because the middle management of hospitals was less convinced of the added value of instant messaging. “And now hospital managers also see the point. They knock on our door: ‘I want it now for my people. Healthcare is coming online.’”
The groups vary in size; some have three to four hundred doctors. These are often regional groups (GPs, GGD doctors and internists), but a few GP groups are also of that size, says Bruggeman. More groups have around one hundred to two hundred participants, which are “horizontal networks” of the same specialty, such as infectious disease specialists, intensivists, pulmonologists, and virologists. The largest groups are “internal networks” within a hospital or a COVID-19 task force from a home care organisation. There are many examples and more coming online every day.
Siilo now offers the service free of charge. There was already a free version for individual medical professionals, but the paid version with additional functionalities for institutions is now also free. “Everyone in healthcare should now be well informed.” The medical messenger is now also being used by healthcare providers in Belgium, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom.