Dr Afif EL-Khuffash, consultant neonatologist in the Rotunda Hospital and his colleague Professor Patrick McNamara from the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada were finalists at the recent Healthcare Innovation Awards, which were held in the Clyde Court Hotel on May 10th 2013. Dr EL-Khuffash and Professor McNamara developed a mobile device application (App) to act as a teaching aid for neonatologists who are receiving formal training in echocardiography.
Echocardiography in the neonatal setting refers to the use of ultrasound techniques to assess the function of the heart. The use of targeted neonatal echocardiography (TnECHO) for the evaluation of the cardiovascular wellbeing is becoming the standard of care across many NICUs. The purpose of TnECHO is to provide physiological information in real time, in order to support clinical decision making.
TnECHO is a new subspecialty in neonatology. During his fellowship training, and working as a consultant in Toronto, Dr EL-Khuffash became an integral part of the service at the Hospital for Sick Children. The service is now available in the Rotunda Hospital and is integrated with the excellent service provided by Dr Orla Franklin, consultant paediatric cardiologist.
The app is of unique design, simple to use and contains comprehensive image, text and video material designed to aid in the learning experience. This is the first educational app on a mobile platform that serves as a mobile teaching aid to neonatologist and neonatal trainees all over the world. This initiative is precedent setting in neonatal medicine and aligns with our leadership role in the field globally.
As mobile devices are portable, learners have firsthand access to information while they are practicing the skill of echocardiography. Prior to this there were limited resources available for individuals who were undergoing TnECHO training. The only resources available, outside of structured training courses, were educational DVDs that are very cost prohibitive and website based educational programs.
The app was released in May 2012 free of charge in the Apple App Store under the Sickkids name and has been very positively received. It was featured last year on CBC news and has received a very positive response from neonatologists across the world with over 2,500 downloads in fifty countries worldwide over a 12 month period.