Uptake of secure messaging systems increases as staff battle to stay connected during COVID-19 outbreak
Thousands of NHS staff are embracing new technology to help them cope during the coronavirus outbreak.
Pando Health, which was built by NHS doctors and enables clinicians to rapidly and securely contact their colleagues via an app, saw a 700% increase in daily downloads during March, compared to the previous month.
It is now seeing more than 75,000 messages exchanged via the network every day after NHS staff turn to tech to pool resources and co-ordinate their COVID-19 response.
With over 1,000 healthcare workers signing up each day, apps like Pando are ensuring clinicians have the tools they need to deal with the current levels of demand.
Innovation, ingenuity and sheer resilience are going to pull us through this crisis. And the NHS is brilliant at stepping up to all three
And this connectivity may prove invaluable in the fight against coronavirus as clinical teams across the UK work together to locate equipment across the network, share expertise between wards, and make decisions remotely if and when clinicians are required to self-isolate.
Pando means the cumbersome process of bleeps, switchboards and pagers - or the insecurities of Whatsapp - can be avoided - rapidly speeding up the exchange of information.
It’s also completely secure, so NHS staff and health professionals can share sensitive patient information safely.
Dr Barney Gilbert, an NHS doctor and co-chief executive of Pando, said: “Innovation, ingenuity and sheer resilience are going to pull us through this crisis. And the NHS is brilliant at stepping up to all three.
“The speed at which individuals and teams have embraced technology such as Pando to cope with this unprecedented demand is incredibly encouraging and we’re humbled to be playing a role in helping strengthen our clinical defences.
“Not only are we removing administrative burdens for those on the frontline, but we’re also enabling the remote communications needed to keep as many clinicians safe from exposure as possible.
More than 75,000 healthcare staff are now using the app to keep in touch with colleagues
“For example, we’re seeing a major spike in use from dermatology teams. Clinicians on the ward can securely send a photo and description to dermatologists off-site and instantly seek their expertise.
“It’s an incredibly tough time for doctors, nurses and carers on the frontline. And anything we can do to ease the burden and reduce inefficiencies is vital.
“The new technologies currently defining our coronavirus response will completely transform how the health service functions for years to come; and only for the better.”
The app is also being used to offer continuity of primary and community care.
One mental health occupational therapist said: “Thanks to Pando, we have been able to continue running a support network for our vulnerable patients with mental health difficulties, despite all now working remotely due to coronavirus.
“Through the app we have been able to co-ordinate our workflow, discuss confidential information, and avoid time lost ringing around for updates.”
Another communications platform, Beekeeper, has also reported a surge in users, with healthcare organisations increasing usage by 48% since the start of the pandemic.
Not only are we removing administrative burdens for those on the frontline, but we’re also enabling the remote communications needed to keep as many clinicians safe from exposure as possible
Cristian Grossmann, chief executive, said: “Our evaluation shows that companies all over the world understand the value of digital employee communications platforms, as they need to quickly share information and provide reliable communication channels for their workforce.
“Logistics, hospitals and governments are under particular pressure to ensure that supply chains, the healthcare system, and administration continue to function under these exceptional circumstances.
“And our solution plays a major role in overcoming the current crisis communication challenges.”
And NHSmail, the secure internal email network for the NHS, recently added Egress Protect technology to offer enhanced protection as more messages are sent.
The move improves healthcare practitioners’ experience by enabling them to use NHSmail to send encrypted emails to unsecure domains, including patients and other areas of the health and care system, as well as offering automatic decryption for inbound email.
Modern and efficient healthcare requires an accessible and secure communication network built on the best data security and IT architecture available
Tony Pepper, chief executive of Egress, added: “Modern and efficient healthcare requires an accessible and secure communication network built on the best data security and IT architecture available.
“At Egress, we deliver innovative email security solutions that make it easy for users to protect data and meet compliance requirements, and then, quite simply, get on with their day-to-day work.
“We look forward to an ongoing relationship with NHS Digital, supporting them in the delivery of this critical communication network.”