Dr Caroline Redhead, partner in our Corporate team, reports on how the NHS is working with tech firms to help care home residents and patients connect with loved ones.
The Government has announced thousands of isolated residents and patients will be able to connect with their family and friends with video call devices.
NHSX, an organisation that brings together teams from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement to drive digital transformation and lead policy, implementation and change, is working with technology firms to help some of society’s most at-risk and isolated people access vital emotional support and companionship during COVID-19.
As part of this work, Facebook will provide up to 2,050 of its Portal Video calling devices free of charge to hospitals, care homes and other settings including hospices, in-patient learning disability and autism units. 50 of the devices have already been deployed to pilot sites in Surrey, with Manchester, Newcastle and London and other areas to follow, with support from Accenture.
The care homes and care settings involved in the pilot will be able to keep the devices free of charge, and use as they see fit, following the pilot phase. Specific care settings will be selected on the basis of their wifi connectivity and ability to run devices in residents’ rooms or other private locations.
NHSX is actively exploring connectivity options for care homes without wifi, including the use of 4G hotspots or data-enabled tablets. NHSX will support and advise care settings on device setup, infection control and data protection, including how to complete a factory reset before passing the device to a new user. This will help protect the personal data of different users and staff.
Additional solutions include enabling health and care staff to work remotely when they may be advised to work at home, improving communication between clinical and care teams, shifting hospital outpatients to virtual appointments, and accelerating the use of online and video consultations within GP and primary care services.
NHSX website is here .
Press release from the Department of Health and Social Care is here .