- Responding to a call from Sonia Patel, joint CIO of two London Trusts, Made Tech delivered the alpha of the custom-NHS app in 48 hours
- NHS Book a virtual visit is now in public beta and being deployed in 66 wards across London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust
- The service was also made available at Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trust last week
- The solution connects patients with loved ones and clinicians to family members via video call
- Reducing the emotional stress on patients and families and pressure on ward nurses keeping families updated
- Virtual visit is also being utilised by COVID-19 positive parents separated from their babies on neonatal wards
Dozens of NHS trusts have approached Made Tech to roll this out nationally so that more patients can use the service.
On 18th May, Made Tech announced that it has successfully built and deployed a virtual visit solution to London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust to facilitate the booking and management organising of video calls between patients and loved ones. This allows them to remain connected at a time when they are unable to be together physically due to restrictions on visitors and personal devices within wards.
NHS Book a virtual visit is currently in beta testing across 66 wards in the trust on both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 wards to facilitate video calls. The solution will also go live at Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trusts this week. It was designed and delivered in response to a social media post from joint CIO, Sonia Patel requesting help from SME technology companies to build an app in 24-48 hours.
Working in collaboration with Sonia and her team, Made Tech created the simple to use digital service that allows ward staff to easily and quickly schedule calls between a patient and the loved one, with minimal data needed to support the call. Hosted in the cloud and created within the principles of open source and to GDS and NHS Digital standards, the secure and OS agnostic solution does not require users to install any third-party applications, can be accessed via any website browser, and works across all devices.
Ward staff input the loved ones’ details into the service which automatically sends an SMS to them, stating when their virtual visit is booked for. The loved one will then receive a unique link to join the call when the ward is ready. If the call has to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances, the scheduling system can easily rebook visits and send notifications. Ward staff can also book recurring calls, allowing them to spend more time caring for patients and less time administering virtual visits.
The non-COVID-19 wards include a neonatal ward where the decision has been made that COVID-19 positive parents should be separated from their babies due to infection risk. While a virtual visit cannot replace parent-baby bonding through physical contact, it does provide the opportunity for parents to see their babies, providing a level of comfort they would not have previously had.
The chaplaincy service can also utilise the NHS Book a virtual visit app to provide spiritual and pastoral support to patients, while working within the guidance on physical distancing and infection control. It is expected that social care will also be able to benefit from the solution as it scales.
Sonia Patel, joint CIO of London North West Healthcare NHS Trust and The Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trust said: “Connecting loved ones with virtual visits at this time is incredibly important. I want our patients to have access to the support they need, and for our ward staff to have a solution that is intuitive to use and allows them to spend more time caring for their patients, in extremely challenging circumstances. Thank you Made Tech for standing up an alpha app within 48 hours.”
Luke Morton, CTO at Made Tech said: “We hope to begin scaling out the solution to more trusts as soon as possible. We’ve been contacted by many other trusts and we have been speaking with NHSX and NHS Digital to ensure this service can have as wide and as positive impact as possible. We hope that this service can continue to provide value in the future too with personal device restrictions on wards. We’d like to thank Sonia and especially her staff who are enabling us to move so fast and deploy this much needed service.”