Case Studies, Content, News

Feature Part Two: How tech is supporting the COVID-19 crisis

As part of our continued coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak, in this part two feature we take a look at some of the innovative health tech companies that are supporting the NHS, patients and staff alike in the current crisis.

In this feature series supported by Highland Marketing, we hear from companies from across health and care to understand how the industry has rallied together over the last few weeks in adapting to an everchanging and demanding situation.

HTN spoke with leaders from across the industry to hear about new software, changing pathways, new features and initiatives to support the health and care system.

The System C & Graphnet Care Alliance steps up for round the clock continuity support and delivers deployments in days 

Markus Bolton, joint CEO said to HTNFor the past month we have been preparing our own organisation and 750 staff to provide round the clock business continuity cover.”

“Already we have doubled down on some of our deployments which were already underway.  North Bristol NHS Trust went live in just 5 days with our e-observations software over this last weekend, for example – e-observations being an essential digital tool for the identification of deterioration and giving whole hospital visibility of patient acuity.”

“Kettering General Hospital is now using CareFlow Connect for clinical messaging and care coordination for all doctors, nurses and AHPs. This provides key team-based clinical workflows that are designed to track cohorts of patients, ensure safe handovers of care and coordinate care.  It includes handover, photo sharing and task management and will provide the organisation with the ability to rapidly support new workflows.”

“At Graphnet, in the last few weeks, we have been supporting a number of ‘in-flight’ shared record projects which have accelerated their deployments in order to help the local health system cope.  Some customers are also accelerating the deployment of planning and analytics tools – these have already been used for the rapid identification of vulnerable patients.”

“On the social care side, we have been working with the 89 councils who use our Liquidlogic software, helping them record and report on Covid-19 cases. It means they can see the number of social care cases with coronavirus, track them, case manage them and report on them.”

Visionable supports doctor to doctor and doctor to patient consultations

Alan Lowe, co-founder and chief executive of Visionable, said to HTN “Visionable is a video collaboration platform designed for healthcare. It’s not one-to-one conferencing and it’s not a triage or consultation service delivered over third-party technology.”

“It’s a large-scale single platform created by NHS managers and with clinicians to respond to clinical needs. It enables multiple users to share real-time audio and video feeds – that could be anything from a CT scan to a camera in someone’s ear or throat – from any device.”

“When it comes to digital working, there is a need for careful service design and clinical engagement. That can’t be done right now, of course, but once the crisis abates, we will need to go back and do it. Barriers to remote working are coming down quickly, they are not going to go back up again.”

“The solutions that are being put in place at the moment may be going in quickly, and we may need to go back and do more strategic work, but digital healthcare is here to stay, and Visionable is investing to support it.”

Cerner sets up global response strategy

Deirdre Stewart, senior director and nursing executive at Cerner said to HTN “We have a great group of clients and employees spread across different regions, and some of the ideas they are coming up with are absolutely great and can be leveraged worldwide – so, we’re acting as a hub for clients and partners, pulling together all these ideas and helping them help each other.”

“On Tuesday, a new alert was implemented at West Suffolk Hospital and Milton Keynes University Hospitals. The alert prompts clinicians with relevant information of patients that have either tested positive for COVID-19 or are awaiting test results.”

Matt Pickett, senior director for global marketing and corporate affairs at Cerner said “Another example was the launch of access to primary care records from Milton Keynes University Hospital’s EHR, via Cerner’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) solution.”

“If we could highlight one thing from this whole situation, is that we’re seeing some initiatives progress much quicker and technology being adopted faster for the benefit of patients and clinicians – and that is really encouraging.”

“The ‘moral right to data’ is another interesting point being extensively discussed these days.”

“While we agree that flexibility around the sharing of data has a game-changing role to play in situations like this, we also need to be sure we do not breach any information sharing agreements or information governance processes in place. Understandably, the minds of healthcare clinical and operational leaders are elsewhere at the moment, but that’s not an excuse to bypass the legal rights around data control and protection.”

“Too much haste could have a negative impact in future sharing initiatives,” he said.

Cerner is also supporting the frontline with its clinical and nursing specialists.

“We have been asked if we would release some of these experts back to frontline care, and the answer is yes – but we also need to carefully consider where they can provide the most value, whether that is remaining at the centre and providing support through their clinical expertise on the technology frontline or actually going back to the healthcare frontline.”

EMIS Health rolls-out free video consultations and extends resources on Patients Access

EMIS is offering free video consultation software to its GP practices and is encouraging its customers to adopt existing tools such as to digitally triage coronavirus enquiries.

The resources on the Patient Access app and website have been extended to include a new clinically authored coronavirus symptom checker – aligned with NHS 111 guidance.

The organisation is also working with NHS Digital on new coronavirus insights, including a new, automated search tool that will give GPs a list of all patients potentially at high risk from COVID-19.

Suzy Foster, CEO of EMIS Health, said to HTN “Digital health services have a critical role to play in helping the NHS and patients to navigate through these unprecedented challenges.”

“We have acted swiftly to make new resources available so that clinicians and healthcare professionals can continue to support their patients. We’re also working hard to help reduce demand on frontline NHS services by signposting patients to trusted information and advice.”

Doctify has supported 500+ doctors and healthcare specialists with video consultation tools

Stephanie Eltz, Co-founder, Doctify said to HTN “In the past week, Doctify has provided 500+ doctors and healthcare specialists with video consultation tools and will continue to rollout the service to ensure continuation of care during these unprecedented times.”

“The service is available on the Doctify website and features hundreds of clinicians that can take video calls and initiate a consultation online taking all the risk of visiting a GP’s surgery.”

IMMJ Systems supports trusts run virtual outpatients

Jamie Hall Head of Sales at IMMJ Systems “We have seen a steep rise in trusts looking to expedite their MediViewer EDMS deployments to support their heavily impacted services during this COVID-19 crisis.”

“A number of trusts have contacted us that wanted to know how quickly we could deploy our solution to provide Virtual Clinics. By enabling Virtual Clinic activity this will provide clinicians with the ability to access patient medical records anywhere via any device and remove the need for patients to be physically present during the appointment.”

“We are working with two major London trusts that have been hit incredibly hard by the global pandemic, not only to get up and running quickly, but to also define at speed the proposed scanning strategy that supports an EDMS implementation. This has provided a mechanism to profile the clinics and services that can be operated remotely enabling trusts to consider which services can be run remotely and which patient activity needs to be assessed in person. The results include a reduction in case note movement which can in itself lessen the spread of the virus to other parts of a hospital.”

“A little-known fact outside of our specialist area is that a physical medical record is usually handled anywhere between 15-20 times before, during and after a consultation, so this is also about isolating the records library and reducing a route for infection within a Hospital.

“As this is not the “norm” we have also created a bespoke support and training programme so training needs can be delivered remotely.”

Allscripts supports quick e-obs deployment

Richard Strong, managing director, EMEA, told HTN “One NHS trust took the brave decision to continue their digital maturity journey last week and to go-live with e-observations functionality that automatically calculates the NEWS2 score that enables clinicians to escalate treatment for patients at risk of deterioration.”

“That was not an easy undertaking, but an important one all the same. This trust has also added icons to its patient tracking board to enable it to identify all the patients with COVID-19 and those waiting for the results of a test.”

“A second trust has enabled tagging for patients, using coded terms, so they can follow-up with positive patients. A third trust has created specific documentation and order sets for managing COVID-19 patients and a fourth trust has both rolled out new documentation and collated specific reports that it is planning to link directly to the Public Health England reporting portal.”

“We have created the Allscripts Go-Live Virtual office to enable trust staff members to get help whenever they need it during functionality activation, via voice and video capability, screen sharing, and other tools.”

“The office is connecting to floorwalkers using an app, so our team can be aware of issues in clinics and on wards before they have been logged through the help desk system.”

Alcidion launches new assessment tool

Lynette Ousby, general manager at Alcidion, said “An entirely new coronavirus assessment tool is already live in the NHS, built into our Patientrack early warning system. This is helping nurses carry out crucial assessments designed to allow hospitals to identify coronavirus patients sooner. The development is now available to any hospital using Patientrack, entirely free of charge.”

“It will mean that nurses on the ward can digitally record crucial information for all respiratory patients, that will be used to alert hospital professionals if a patient shows potential signs of coronavirus, and if they need to be tested.”

“In the UK and around the world we are also working quickly to adapt our full range of technologies to respond to the needs of frontline staff at this difficult time. This includes important work in patient flow, where we are working with hospitals to give them crucial insights into the status of coronavirus patients around the hospital.”

“Technology has helped the NHS to tackle many other issues, and it can play an important role to help to make life that bit easier for our remarkable NHS staff as they respond to the ongoing crisis.”

Now Healthcare sees increase in online medication ordering.

Patients have turned to the app as an alternative to heading out to their local pharmacy.

Lee Dentith, CEO and Founder of Now Healthcare Group said to HTN: “This is a very concerning time for so many people, especially those living with underlying health conditions and now is the time that people can start to understand the huge benefit of technology and put their trust first-hand in using app-based services like Now Patient. Many of our patients must go into a period of social-distancing so heading out to their local Pharmacy to collect the numerous medications is not an option – particularly when the Pharmacies can be a breeding ground for germs. We are proud to play a small role in helping to keep people safe and contain spread of the virus in the best way possible way”.

Celsium innovates temperature tech

Andy Mahoney, CEO of Celsium, said “Measuring people’s core temperature is key to helping to understand the spread of coronavirus, but the world is still reliant on a limited 300-year-old technology, with thermometers being the means to check your temperate occasionally. Since the onset of the coronavirus, Celsium has been having conversations that could change that. We are now ready to scale up production of an entirely new wearable that measures the wearer’s core temperature every four seconds – that’s 900 times an hour, delivering medical grade readings more times in one hour than most people have had in their lifetime.”

“If the temperature rises above a set level, for example 38.2 degrees C, Celsium can alert the wearer on their mobile phone. During the current coronavirus outbreak, this could help people take action to protect their families, and it could become an important part of personal protective equipment worn by hospital staff, to keep them safe. People can be alerted to their rise in temperature before they even feel it. And the alert is far more reliable than a digital thermometer that can be influenced by the ambient room temperature. With necessary consent, data can also be shared with healthcare planners and public health teams at this crucial time, informing them of potential geographical areas where there may be a spike in rising temperatures for the population. This could allow targeted decisions around allocation of resources and support.”

Better supports assessments and reporting – offering clinical data models for free

Tomaž Gornik. Owner and CEO of Better, and co-chair of the openEHR foundation, said to HTN “Open data models and standardised approaches to collecting data are already proving important in understanding COVID-19, as countries across the world respond to the coronavirus pandemic.”

“Three to four weeks ago the openEHR community from different countries got together and started to build clinical data models to support developers in the COVID-19 application space – supporting everything from assessments, to reporting on coronavirus tests, to reporting to the World Health Organisation registry of COVID-19 cases.”

“The models are free to use by any application developer, and throughout the world this is happening now.”

“Better has been using these models to help our customers, including the NHS, where we have been working free of charge to help solve problems relating to the ongoing outbreak.”

“One trust has used these models to build tools to help staff carry out COVID-19 critical care daily assessments for patients and reporting.”

“Slovenia has used the same openEHR platform to create a dashboard that shows the spread of coronavirus across the country. And this can apply to any country. It works directly off the data in the platform, which has been collected using internationally developed data models.”

“And we have made our offers to support the Cabinet Office as part of a UK wide offer of industry support.”

“In order for this to work, as coronavirus guidelines are changing daily, healthcare systems need to find ways to push updates into patient facing and clinician facing applications. It’s not only the data entry that is important, but the questions being asked and the rules of the assessments that are part of the screening process. This is a big benefit from having standard data models – so that rules can be enforced to allow data comparisons and an agile response to the challenges now being faced.”

CommonTime supports with compliant instant messaging

Matthew Gauler, CEO, CommonTime, said “Our conversations with NHS organisations to implement compliant messaging have quickly accelerated since the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective communication in emergency care throughout critical people, roles and teams is now more vital than ever. In response we have re-engineered our deployment approach to make sure we can get our technology in place as rapidly as the NHS needs it, with the ability to deploy quickly and remotely.’

“Most importantly, in these unprecedented times, we have done everything we can to shift any burdens away from the trusts. We can perform tasks such as loading rotas and authentication into our managed service in our secure cloud.  At a time of crisis, this is about alleviating pressure wherever possible on our NHS partners.”

“National decisions have also been made to allow staff to use WhatsApp to share patient identifiable data, however, evidence suggests this may not solve the problem for busy staff. In these times where teams will be redeployed, and when temporary and returning staff play an important role, everyone needs fast and reliable ways to communicate with each other. But consumer applications, such as WhatsApp, often require users to already have phone numbers for the people they need to reach.”

Katrina Percy, healthcare advisor, CommonTime, said “Communication must now be kept relevant and simple. Sending alerts to a critical role or team is much easier than trying to work out who should be contacted and whether they are available. So, we have been enabling our NHS partners to communicate efficiently – connecting entire organisations of thousands of people securely and safely.”

“A busy A&E nurse may need to quickly see which consultant is online and immediately send a secure message. And management teams need to be able quickly message their entire workforce when needed – for example if a ward needs to be quarantined.”

“Staff also need to take important downtime to rest during this crisis, without being messaged in the middle of the night when they are not on call. Enabling staff to keep their personal and professional communication separate is crucial at this time.”

InfoFlex supports data collection and reporting

Marc Warburton, Chief Executive “Since the outbreak of Covid-19, a number of our customers have approached us to see how InfoFlex can be used to support data collection and reporting to help with management of the Covid-19 outbreak. We are more than happy to support through the capabilities our solution offers and will be doing so at no extra cost.”

“The InfoFlex system can enable Trusts to configure data capture, gain access to in-depth reporting and enable an alerting tool as needed.”

Chronomics sets up free and simple online risk calculator

Dr. Tom Stubbs said to HTN “At Chronomics we have developed the world’s first epigenetic saliva test that reveals how the largest risk factors for chronic conditions are impacting our health and wellbeing at a DNA level. The insight from these results gives each of us the knowledge to take control of our health and prevent through action.”

“The importance of the information that Chronomics provides is highlighted by the current COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the globe. Age, heart disease, type-II diabetes and respiratory diseases are responsible for increasing our chances of becoming very sick from COVID-19 infection. These diseases are largely the result of long-term mismanagement of health and are preventable. Chronomics provides personalised insights that shine a light on the largest risk factors for these diseases and supports people to prevent through action – reducing the chances of becoming very sick from COVID-19 infection and avoiding heart disease, type-II diabetes and respiratory diseases in the process.“

“In direct response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the team has set up a free and simple online risk calculator ( so people can understand their current risk and support loved ones in understanding their risk. We would encourage everyone to fill out this risk calculator.”

Servelec quickly supports with new solutions 

Steve Wightman, Managing Director of Healthcare, Servelec said to HTN “One of our customers, an acute hospital urgently needed its Tracking Lists redesigned to help prepare its Emergency Department, and we were able to create and implement a new solution within 48 hours to support the hospital in its moment of need. This prompted senior directors from the hospital to thank us for ‘the flexibility, dedication, understanding and responsiveness from Servelec which has been nothing short of outstanding.’

“There will be a spotlight on new technology at this point, but it’s important that we keep existing systems working as efficiently as possible and adapt them for the challenges ahead in the coming days, weeks and months.”

X-on delivers for primary care

Paul Bensley, Managing Director of cloud communications specialists X-on said “GP practices are being swamped with calls, and not all their phone systems can manage. The shift to delivering care remotely is also causing issues. We are working with hundreds of practices to ensure their telephony is a central part of their response to the coronavirus pandemic, as they switch to the ‘phone-first’ approach being advocated by central health policy makers, and look to address the issues that affect some legacy phone systems.”

“We have rapidly developed technology so GPs can work remotely and provide telephone triage and consultation services to patients from home. This is alongside providing video functionality, which enables doctors to switch from a phone call to a video call with a single click, which is helping them deal with greater volumes of patient enquiries.”

“X-on is also providing free teleconferencing to help teams at CCG and PCN level who are coordinating the local and regional response.”