COVID-19 app for NHS staff launches as restrictions lift
A new app has launched today to support UK hospital staff who have been redeployed to care for COVID-19 patients.
The Acute COVID app has been co-developed by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and its charity CW+, along with health tech company Imagineear Health.
It provides information to healthcare staff via a step-by-step guide, aimed at both doctors and nurses. This includes the different stages of COVID-19 so they have guidance around triage at A&E, hospital admission, in-hospital treatments, and advanced care management.
The app also provides training on non-invasive ventilation. In the first wave of the pandemic the numbers of patients needing this type of ventilation led to staff who would not normally administer this to patients having to do so.
Additionally the app signposts staff to where they can access mental and physical wellbeing support, acknowledging the levels of staff burnout, particularly among frontline staff, the pandemic has created.
The launch of the app comes on the same day England lifts its COVID-19 restrictions, labelled "freedom day" by some. However infection rates have soared in recent weeks and the move has been fiercely opposed by scientists and doctors, both in the UK and abroad.
In a letter published in medical journal The Lancet backed by 1,200 international scientists, experts called the unlocking "a threat to the world", as allowing infection rates to rise enables the virus to mutate and potentially become resistant to the vaccination.
At the weekend the newly appointed health secretary Sajid Javid announced he had tested positive for coronavirus, and both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the chancellor Rishi Sunak are self-isolating.
Meanwhile in the first week of July more than 500,000 alerts were issued by the NHS Covid-19 app telling people they had been exposed to the virus. As a result businesses are considering cutting their opening hours while staff are self-isolating at home. The government has issued guidance saying that fully vaccinated frontline NHS staff in England will be allowed to carry on working even if they've come into contact with someone with COVID-19.
Messaging tools important for vaccine take-up, study finds
Messaging tools like texts and push notifications are vital to successfully rolling out COVID-19 vaccination programmes, a new survey has found.
Research by OneSignal, app developers who specialise in customer engagement, found that out of the people they surveyed 65% successfully booked an appointment thanks to prompts from messaging tools and alerts from their chosen healthcare resource.
OneSignal spoke to 1,000 people over the age of 18 and living in the United States for this study. Participants were asked about their experience scheduling a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, including whether they had opted-in to receive digital notifications about eligibility, availability, reminders and follow-ups. Key findings of the survey include:
⦁ 74% of people opted-in/signed up to receive notifications, messages, or alerts, such as via email, website browser alerts, or SMS messages for vaccine eligibility and/or available appointments
⦁ 67% found these tools useful in reminding them to get vaccinated or finding a vaccine site
⦁ 54% signed up or opted in to receive alerts and notifications from public health or government agencies, the most popular source for information on details for getting a vaccine appointment. Other top resources are pharmacy websites or apps, and local mass vaccination sites
⦁ 54% said text message alerts were their preferred messaging channel for updates about COVID, vaccines, and other related information, followed by email and push notifications
“The results of this study demonstrate the important role messaging technology, such as push notifications, text messages and email, can play in keeping the public safe during global crises, as well as the public’s receptiveness to leveraging digital tools to stay informed” George Deglin, CEO of OneSignal commented.
"It’s clear that private healthcare companies, government agencies, and other emergency organisations that develop applications in response to emergency situations need to quickly reach a large number of people across geographical regions to keep them informed. Messaging tools and digital-first alert systems have proven to be an effective and trusted method for these organisations to broaden their reach in an impactful way.”
The survey also showed how messaging tools act as an important conduit for public education. Of the people participating in the study, 60% signed up to receive texts or other notifications to follow up on a vaccine experience, such as services offered by the vaccine site.
If a booster shot is needed in the future, 51% of people would prefer to receive information about this via text message alerts, followed by email and push notifications.