Hospital patients receive digital lifeline to loved ones

Made Tech builds and deploys NHS Book a virtual visit app at London hospital trust

The NHS Book a virtual visit app is helping patients to stay in contact with loved ones during the COVID-19 lockdown

Made Tech has announced it has successfully built and deployed a virtual visiting solution for the London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust to facilitate the booking and management of video calls between patients and their loved ones.

The software enabless 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 amid the outbreak of coronavirus.

NHS Book a virtual visit is currently in beta testing across 66 COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 wards to facilitate video calls.

The solution will also go live at Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation Trusts later this week.

It was designed and delivered in response to a social media post from the trust’s joint chief information officer, Sonia Patel, requesting help from SME technology companies to build an app in 24-48 hours.

Connecting loved ones with virtual visits at this time is incredibly important

Working in collaboration with 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 their 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 family member will then receive a unique link to join the call when the ward is ready.

And, if the call has to be postponed due to unforeseen circumstances, the scheduling system can 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.

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

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.

Patel 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.”

Luke Morton, chief technology officer at Made Tech, added: “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 an impact as possible.

“We hope that this service can continue to provide value in the future too with personal device restrictions on wards.”

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