The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn is the first in the UK to begin using a new tailor-made app designed with intensive care staff wearing full personal protective equipment in mind.
The simple app means that staff can now get equipment and clinical advice to where it’s needed faster than ever before across hospital sites.
Dr Peter Young, Consultant in Anaesthesia and Critical Care at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital is one of the international team behind the Call-4-Help app. He said: “The added pressure on staff and resources brought by COVID-19 was the inspiration behind the app that was developed, and in use, in just a matter of weeks.
“Particularly in ICU working fast and efficiently is crucial for saving lives. With Covid-19 we were quickly seeing staff working outside their normal roles and locations so we needed to provide a simple solution to get the right knowledge, equipment and support to where it was needed, even in unfamiliar environments. We were fortunate to be able to build on work that we already had under way on a similar app so we took some of our initial work and created a bespoke app that could be used immediately.
“Essentially it’s a messaging app specifically made for NHS staff. It’s free to use and works on any smartphone so it’s always to hand. The app allows a request to be posted which is then seen instantly by the right person or team. Once actioned the message disappears so everyone can see what needs there are at any moment in an uncluttered way. For example cleaning and preparing a bed space took a number of calls in the past, but using the app just one message goes out, which is then picked up and actioned by the appropriate team.”
Through the app, staff can request help through a real-time message board. Senior doctors and nurses can monitor and assign tasks through the app, which has been built with PPE in mind – easy to read through visors, and the on-screen buttons are sensitive enough to work with gloved fingers.
“Feedback from staff taking part in the trial so far has been very good. Nursing staff have told me they can get fast and reliable access to junior and senior medical staff. Meanwhile medical staff have told me it is easy for them to see exactly what needs doing before I enter the ICU and so can sort everything out in one go – this saves having to change out of valuable PPE, much of which can only be used once.
“We’re already working on some improvements, such as adding groups, to make it even easier to use.
“It is early days but it’s excellent that the app has already proven its worth in a Covid-19 intensive care ward – such a testing environment. I’m certain this will be useful across all hospital departments in the future and I’m looking forward to colleagues across the UK being able to benefit from the work we’ve done here in King’s Lynn.”
The IT experts who put aside commercial work to develop the app are from four companies; 4-Roads, Kulestar, Concept Softworks, and CK Alpha.
The project was made possible through collaboration between an international team. Working alongside Dr Young were NHS Clinical Entrepreneurs, software engineering teams in Silicon valley and AI specialists in New York.