Alex Osborne

Empowering the NHS in the battle against coronavirus

Empowering the NHS in the battle against coronavirus
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The UK is facing unprecedented challenges. Self-isolation, social distancing, shielding and ‘lockdown’ have left an indelible mark on the nation’s collective consciousness.

Nowhere has the crisis been felt more acutely than in the NHS. Acting as the tip of the spear in the battle against Covid-19, our National Health Service is being stretched in ways previously thought unimaginable.

London’s new NHS Nightingale Hospital, a 4,000 bed, temporary facility housed within the ExCel convention centre, has been brought into operation in record time.

According to the hospital’s COO, Natalie Forrest, it will become one of the largest medical centres worldwide, split into more than 80 wards. That this massive project is coming to fruition in such a condensed timescale is testament to the gravity of the situation we’re facing.

However, finding space for the necessary amount of beds to help ease the pressure on existing hospitals is just one piece of a much larger puzzle in the NHS’s battle against coronavirus.

Those working on the front lines – doctors, nurses and emergency services staff – all require personal protection equipment (PPE) in order to reduce the risk of infection. This PPE includes visors, gowns, gloves and masks, all offering varying levels of protection.

This is vital, not only for public safety, but to safeguard our key workers, who form the backbone of our nation’s crisis response effort.

Getting PPE where it needs to be can be the difference between life and death in these extraordinary circumstances. But managing the entire procurement lifecycle of PPE – from ordering to prioritisation to distribution – represents a huge logistical challenge.

Orders need to be rapidly scaled up, and legacy systems are simply no longer fit for purpose as we attempt to tackle this unparalleled situation.

ServiceNow is working closely with NHS England during the crisis to enable the streamlined tracking, escalation, management and resolution of procuring and distributing PPE.

And digital workflows will have a significant role to play in shaping the NHS’s response to Covid-19. Timescales must be vastly accelerated from business-as-usual.

The NHS’s ability to respond to Covid-19 has been pushed to its limits. Normally focusing on short, sharp engagements, its emergency response teams have never had to deal with a problem of this

wide-ranging scope before.

Using email and spreadsheets to co-ordinate such a complex, fast-moving environment is no longer adequate. We’ve assisted NHS England in building out its back-end systems, in order to mobilise teams efficiently and effectively – getting aid to where it’s needed most.

Additionally, with a large number of citizens and medical staff having to self-isolate, face-to-face consultations are proving increasingly difficult. Especially when you consider that people with non-coronavirus related health issues need to avoid GP practices and hospitals at this sensitive time.

Online consultations, through video calls, will be increasingly important. Clinicians will operate using a standardised platform, but with patients trying to log on using different devices, operating systems and software, major interoperability issues lie ahead.

At ServiceNow, we’re helping the NHS get an interoperability service desk up and running as fast as possible – which will guide the public through troubleshooting steps and allow these crucial consultations to take place as normal.

Undoubtedly, the NHS needs every tool at its disposal in the fight against Covid-19 – both physical and digital. We’re proud to play a part in equipping those at the front lines to help the people who need it most.

Together, we can flatten the curve, ease the burden on the NHS, and start getting the nation back on its feet again.

Alex Osborne, Senior Director at ServiceNow