Apps, News

Acute COVID app to train redeployed NHS staff now available across the UK

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its official charity CW+ have launched the Acute COVID app, which supports NHS staff who have been redeployed to work with COVID-19 patients.

Co-developed with Imagineear Health, the app was originally created as a tool to help staff across the trust’s two hospitals – Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and West Middlesex University Hospital. However, the tool has now been made widely available in app stores as a free download for iOS and Android devices across the UK.

In the app’s welcome note, on behalf of the Acute COVID app team, Dr Ryan Dhunnookchand says: “It has been a hard journey to this point but what is clear is that we need the support of all disciplines of healthcare personnel to manage the high burden of COVID patients.

“Thank you for your hard work and dedication, congratulations for wishing to learn yet another skill to add to your excellent clinical repertoire, COVID Non-invasive Ventilation (NIV).”

Designed to act as an “easily-accessible, one-stop information resource” and a confidence-boosting “learning tool” for staff, the app includes a ‘step-by-step guide’ for doctors and nurses. As well as defining the different the stages of COVID-19, it provides information on A&E triage, hospital admission, in-hospital treatments, and advanced care management. The tech also signposts staff to mental and physical wellbeing support.

One of the app’s most important features is a video session of training on non-invasive ventilation, which the trust says it initiated during the first wave of the pandemic. The large number of patients needing treatment meant that non-invasive ventilation interventions such as “continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)” was being delivered by staff who would “not routinely use these techniques”. Yet, when appropriately implemented, this method “may reduce bed days and can prevent the need for invasive mechanical ventilation”, says the trust.

The instructional video sees Dr Dhunnookchand guide staff through the various steps, from tubing set up all the way through to a conclusion with further tips and advice, and app users are able to rewatch each step by using the video bookmarks.

Dr Dhunnookchand, Respiratory Registrar and Medical Education Fellow at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said of the app: “During the first wave of COVID-19 in early 2020, we quickly realised that there were not enough staff with the specialist skills required to care for COVID-19 patients, and we had to rapidly train and redeploy many staff members across our hospitals.

“The goal was to develop a smartphone application that increased staff confidence in caring for COVID-19 patients, including setting up CPAP circuits, and provided an aid to troubleshooting problems that might arise, particularly when skilled staff may not be readily available to assist and thereby to improve patient safety.

“Working with Imagineear, and supported by a generous grant from Pfizer, we are pleased to be able to make this innovative and educational resource freely available to help all NHS trusts and healthcare providers.”

Niamh Woolven, Respiratory Nurse Specialist at the trust, added: “The Acute COVID app was designed by staff for staff. The information on caring for patients with CPAP, and definitions of COVID, have been instrumental for nurses who have been redeployed during the pandemic – it’s great to see our work become available via the app for nurses across the country who are looking to learn about non-invasive ventilation.”

The app is part of the CW Innovation programme – an initiative from the trust and its charity which “identifies, tests and scales high-impact innovations” to improve patient care and experience. Other apps that have been rolled-out in the trust over the past 12 months include a way-finder to help patients navigate around the hospital, a diabetes self-management tool and an app for HIV patients.