HTN Now Awards 2021 feature: the rapid response to COVID-19

There couldn’t be a HTN Now Awards 2021 without a category for ‘Rapid Response to COVID-19’, to recognise all of the amazing work that has been done in this area across the last 12 months.

Of course, many of our other sections automatically overlap with this one, due to the pandemic being a main focus for many and often demanding the most urgent health tech solutions. But NHS trusts, teams and suppliers across the country really took to the challenge.

This award was by far our busiest in regard to entries and we have 11 incredible finalist submissions to showcase in this feature, spanning a vast range of solutions.

We hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we did.

S12 Solutions quick to address electronic MHA forms

For its rapid response to COVID-19, S12 Solutions developed electronic statutory MHA (Mental Health Act 1983) forms, with the intention to ‘improve patient care and reduce the administrative burden for mental health professionals’.

The redeployment or shielding of doctors had made assessments difficult to organise and after talking to trusts, local authorities and CCGs (clinical commissioning groups), the company had found that electronic statutory MHA health forms was the ‘most common request’ for assistance. Usually paper forms, S12 solutions said they were ‘notoriously cumbersome, time-consuming and susceptible to error’.

So, after NHS England announced in March 2020 that statutory forms could be ‘temporarily completed and communicated electronically’, S12 Solutions responded with swift action.

By April 2020, the company had assembled a ‘working group with users, stakeholders and a Mental Health Law Coordination Lead’, who supported its in-house team to develop forms that could be integrated with current platform workflows and accessed with the same logins.

And by September, online training sessions were delivered to the first area to use this feature, with forms going live in October and offered free of charge until January 2021.

Royal Papworth and DXC link up for EPR

We’ve mentioned Cambridge’s Royal Papworth NHS Foundation Trust in a few of our categories already, as the trust continues to be at the forefront of digital healthcare adoption.

It ‘accelerated’ its efforts during the course of the pandemic with examples including the advent of video consultations and a VPN (Virtual Private Network) that enables radiographers to work and receive images remotely.

However, the Royal Papworth tells us that at the heart of its digital transformation strategy and quick application is its EPR (electronic patient record) system, Lorenzo – an application within the DXC Care Suite from DXC Technology.

Working with DXC Technology, it was implemented within a year, enabling staff to ‘use devices, such as tablets, to see all information they need on a patient in one place’. This includes clinics visited, medicines prescribed, procedures undergone and images of X-rays.

The use of APIs (application programming interfaces) also means the system is able to exchange information safely with other EPR systems in nearby hospitals, speeding up the sharing and access process and enabling lab results from neighbouring hospitals in real-time.

Royal Papworth and Idox Software track PPE

We’re back at the Royal Papworth NHS Trust for its second rapid COVID response entry, but this time alongside Idox Software Ltd.

To ensure staff got ‘rapid access’ to PPE during the pandemic, the Trust collaborated with Idox and its iAssets software to use RFID scanners and barcode technology to help locate stock. By tagging assets, such as reusable masks and ventilators, important items could be tracked via a ‘breadcrumb trail’ and pinpointed. This minimised disruption and reordering, saved time and kept both staff and patients ‘safer’ by ensuring the right equipment was available when needed.

By using the technology for ward audits, the Trust told us it could save as much as half a day’s worth of time.

NHS Arden & GEM provide patient notifications

Another trust helping to lead the charge in digital transformation is NHS Arden and GEM CSU, who had representatives recently deliver a talk for our January HTN Now series.

In an early response to the pandemic, the Trust built a system for health providers to record COVID-19 patient notifications. It told us this was to help organisations ‘to rapidly understand the number and spread of COVID-19 related deaths’ and to ‘make informed plans and decisions’.

In just five days, after working closely with key stakeholders, Arden & GEM’s Data and Systems team managed to develop and deploy the CPNS, a central system to record COVID-19 patient notifications.

As well as being a ‘definitive source’ for daily reporting of COVID-19-related deaths, it reduces the reporting burden on providers, delivers a live reporting stream to help national organisations with decision-making and helps regional organisations to plan.

The system has now reportedly been rolled out to over 1,600 users from 675 organisations.

Bleepa boosts remote imaging comms at Pennine Acute

Feedback plc’s Bleepa messaging app was already in use at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, as it sought to ‘streamline the patient referral pathway’.

But the imaging-based communication platform, which allows for secure, remote communications between clinicians and their teams, was adaptable enough to be adopted as ‘key patient management tool’ in the Trust’s COVID-19 response in June 2020.

Accoridng to Feedback, Bleepa offered a ‘secure solution to register and identify patients suitable for the RECOVERY trial, a national randomised study looking at novel COVID treatments’, as well as tracking patients from team to team, and supporting ‘multi-speciality clinical decision making’.

Bleepa, which allows ‘instant and remote access to clinical grade medical images’, was rapidly adopted by research nurses and clinician specialists, reducing the necessity for face-to-face meetings and helping with team-to-team referrals of COVID-19 cases to ‘ensure rapid clinical assessment’.

GHX creates expansive resource centre

GHX mobilised swiftly during the pandemic to build a resource centre that could provide a reliable and timely source information for NHS trusts and staff.

The company set up a ‘number of key initiatives’ that were shared via the Information Centre, including:

  • Sourcing alternative supplies – during the struggle to secure PPE and essential medical supplies early on in the pandemic, GHX’s Solution Delivery team created ‘bespoke video tutorials’ that showed staff how to search for items using the cloud-based NEXUS repository and catalogue management system.
  • Updating catalogues – the team also created two guides for supplier customers explaining how to quickly and easily create and update NEXUS and HealthNEXUS catalogues.
  • Additional licences for remote working – it also offered free additional licences to hospital and pharmacy procurement teams using GHX PowerGate Pharmacy and Procurement solutions, with employees from over 40 NHS trusts benefitting.
  • Seven key strategies to help build a resilient supply chain – GHX created a whitepaper focusing on ‘seven key strategies to help healthcare providers plan their response in the event of future pandemics’.
  • The company also hosted a free webinar covering real-life lessons from the frontline.

Living With focuses on ‘long-COVID’

 Living With Ltd created the ‘The Living With Covid Recovery Programme’ to provide remote-supported NHS rehabilitation for patients with long-term symptoms post-COVID-19 infection.

Referred patients can use ‘guided treatment programmes’ via a smartphone and tablet suitable app.

The app allows clinicians to tailor patient bespoke care plans to individuals, communicate with patients remotely and monitor people’s recoveries via a dashboard.

Living With’s software was developed while working in partnership with University College London, Barts Health NHS Trust and Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, plus clinicians, academics and patients.

Already in use at multiple trusts in London, it will soon go live with Hampshire and Isle of Wight integrated care system too.

Whittington Health NHS Trust addresses group consultations

Another forward-thinking trust, Whittington Health’s submission in the rapid response section highlights its Nutrition and Dietetics team.

According to the Trust, COVID-19 had given it ‘a problem’ in that they could ‘no longer host their face-to-face weight management group’, stopping a crucial part of the patient journey ‘abruptly’ in March 2020.

The team turned to a digital solution, embracing virtual sessions quickly by offering group consultations via Microsoft Teams. This allowed for a clearing of backlogged referrals, up to 80% clinician time efficiency gains and shorter waiting times, as well as continued support and safe virtual social contact.

Participation and patient feedback were keenly incorporated, according to the team, so that ‘each consultation is patient-centred and tailored to their specific needs’. The team is now sharing its learning across the Trust, ‘directly supporting the start of virtual group consultations’ in other services.

Musculoskeletal services supported at Whittington too

In its second entry to this category, Whittington Health shines a light on the response of its Musculoskeletal Services (MSK) team.

It informs us that the pandemic ‘caused the team to completely change the way they work’, quickly launching a ‘digital alternative to face-to-face appointments’.

Early on in the pandemic all non-essential Musculoskeletal Services appointments had been cancelled so staff could be redeployed to other services. But they then returned to an approximate 10,000 patient-backlog, including patients that could require urgent referrals to spinal services or re-direction to A&E or GPs.

They immediately offered telephone appointments but also adopted video appointments ‘at pace’ by using Attend Anywhere consultations. Initiatives included ‘test appointments’ for patients nervous about using the new systems and a video for patients and GPs that are reluctant to attend or refer. While the team also managed to successfully address its backlog by October, too.

Health Navigator Ltd helps shielding service

After vulnerable patients were told to shield in spring 2020, East-Kent and South-West Staffordshire CCGs and Health Navigator (HN) worked together to rapidly develop a ‘remote shielding service’ within eight weeks.

The jointly developed ‘Remote High-Risk Patient Service’ supported 1,132 shielded patients in their homes, from the period of May to September 2020, and aimed to prevent hospitalisation.

Among its objectives were:

  • Keep patient safe at home and ensure all necessary support is coordinated around the patient’s needs.
  • To relieve pressure on hospital and GP care through provision of necessary information.
  • Support effective self-care of both underlying chronic conditions and possibly coronavirus-related symptoms.
  • Avoid unnecessary critical care admissions, hospital admission, A&E attendances and ambulance conveyances.
  • Reduction in patients receiving corridor care within ED and reduction in bed occupancy rates.

The service recruited patients through GP referrals and triaged them into different tiers for monitoring and support.

 Vantage Health’s advice platform

Vantage Health partnered with several CCGs and trusts, including in Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon and North West London to provide its AI-powered Rego platform.

In the face of unprecedented demand for hospital services, the company collaborated with GPs, hospital consultants and managers, allowing patient information to be ‘sent from a GP, directly to an appropriate hospital consultant, with no paper or manual intervention’.

The platform also allowed consultants to offer advice and guidance directly to GPs, ultimately connecting over 200 practices with around 400 consultant specialists.

Vantage Health tells us that the hospitals and first CCG were live within six weeks, delivering a ‘fast, secure roll out of an advanced cloud-based service’, as well as the production of videos and guides to aid over 1,000 users.

Results included 70% of patients receiving appropriate advice and being treated in their homes or at their local surgeries, 20,831miles of patient travel saved during the first three months and GPs receiving advice, or a referral, from a specialist within 1.6 days of a request.

Tekihealth Solutions’ virtual care home software

You’ll already find Tekihealth Solutions’ “Tekihub” submission in our virtual consultation software feature.

But the remote diagnostic consultation solution for care homes, which enabled ‘remote physical examinations of the heart, lung, skin, ears, nose and throat of residents’, was also used as part of a fast-moving response to COVID-19.

Placed in care homes across the UK, the hand-held mobile device, which utilises 5G technology, aims to reduce unplanned hospital and GP visits.

Comprising of a high-resolution video and still camera, no-touch infrared basal thermometer and other digital medial ‘attachments’ it enables the monitoring of various vital signs.


Find out more about our finalists and winners on 22 January, via our HTN Awards 2021 page or Twitter account.