It's a good day to be in the South African app development business! Headlines across the country are celebrating the success of local tech company, Healthcent. And the approximate R60 million tender secured by its health application, Signapps. The contract was awarded by the UK in the hopes of rolling out the application throughout the country's vast National Health Service (NHS). Here's everything we know about the deal so far...
SA health app to service Britain's NHS
What is the nature of the contract?
Health application Signapps functions as a messaging platform that helps streamline communication within hospitals and clinics. Within the NHS, the app will be used for the management of clinical communication to NHS Trusts. The new communication system is set to replace the use of pagers in UK hospitals, as the government announced a plan to phase out pagers by the end of 2021. COVID-19 also helped speed up this decision, leading to the contract being awarded now rather than next year.
The tender with Signapps will run for two years, and has the option to be extended by a further 12 months after that. This has certainly helped put SA tech companies and applications on the map.
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What is the app about?
The app was developed to be used in healthcare systems and was originally launched at the SA state hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital. Despite initial funding by the SA government in the early stages of Signapp's app development, the application hasn't been implemented at many other local hospitals.
Signapps operates as a secure messaging platform where doctors and patients can communicate more efficiently. It was designed to improve systems like feedback and referral processes, as well as facilitate engagement between doctors about their patients. Doctor to patient communication is also made easier through the application.
Who is the founder of the app?
The man at the helm of this venture is Signapps co-founder and CEO Andrew Davies. He's previously worked as the Chief Operating Officer of popular messaging system Mxit. He has extensive experience in the technology and application industries and serves as a director at several tech companies. These include domestic service booking app, Sweepsouth, and tech impact business Mobenzi. Davies is based in Cape Town.
What does this mean for SA?
Apart from the fact that this presents very welcome good news for South Africa, the contract between Signapps and the NHS may have a bigger impact on our country than we thought. While the app will be rolled out in the UK, most of the development work that still needs to be completed will be done on South African soil. That means there are likely to be employment opportunities for local software developers and engineers whose skills will be needed in order to fulfil the requirements of the contract.
In an earlier interview, Davies had this to say about the success of the tender: "The contract with the NHS is a major coup for us, as a South African company, proving that our product engineering teams can create products to compete with the very best internationally".
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