NHSX working with tech firms to help connect people during Covid-19


Tech firms are working with NHSX to help care home residents and patients connected with their loved ones during coronavirus.

As part of this work, Facebook will provide up to 2,050 of its Portal video calling devices for free to hospitals, care homes and other settings including hospices, in-patient learning disability and autism units.

Fifty 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.

Iain O’Neil, NHSX’s digital transformation director, said: “Technology companies big and small continue to pledge their resources and expertise to support our NHS and social care system in these unprecedented times.

“We are working hard to find and develop services that meet people’s equally unprecedented needs. Technology has never been so important to providing one of life’s most essential things – the ability to communicate with the people we love regardless of where they are.”

As well as providing solutions to reducing social isolation among residents and patients, NHSX is working with a range of technology companies to support the NHS and social care system in these unprecedented times.

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.

Freddy Abnousi, head of health technology at Facebook, added: “We designed Portal to give people an easy way to connect and be more present with their loved ones. With the global pandemic and social distancing measures, the ability to stay connected is more important than ever.

“That’s why we are piloting a program with NHSX to provide Portal devices in hospitals and other care settings to support patients  and help reduce social isolation.”

This follows the news that Microsoft Teams was rolled out across the entire NHS to support remote working during the coronavirus outbreak. All users of NHSmail in England and Scotland have been given access to Teams, the Microsoft workplace collaboration platform that forms part of the Office365 suite.

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