NHS launches messenger service, and researchers develop robots for isolation ward care


Latest news and insight on how the technology sector is reacting to Covid-19.

NHS launches messaging service for people with suspected Covid-19 symptoms

The UK National Health Service (NHS) has launched a messaging service to provide regular check-ins for people staying at home with suspected coronavirus symptoms. The service will send daily texts to new patients who register their symptoms of Covid-19 and contact details with the 111 online service.

According to the NHS the messages are intended to be reassuring, will check how people are, and make sure that those who require it are getting help through their isolation period.

Citizens who do not want to receive text messages can opt out from the service any time, said the NHS. Commissioned by NHSX, the new text messaging service has been built by NHS Digital and the NHS Business Services Authority. The text messages are sent from NHS Covid-19.

NHS Digital chief medical officer Jonathan Benger said: “Across the country, people are playing their part in the battle to save lives and stop the spread of coronavirus by doing the right thing and staying home if they have got symptoms. However, we know that for many this will be difficult. This new service will help people to get the encouragement, advice and support that they need.”

UK government commissions Covid-19 dashboard for live view of metrics

The government has commissioned NHS England, NHS Improvement, and NHSX to develop a platform delivering timely and reliable data to the national organisations coordinating the response to the virus.

Data will come from across the NHS, including its partner organisations and across the social care network. It will then be integrated and harmonised into one platform, presented as a dashboard with live metrics. NHS England and NHS Improvement will retain control over this data; once the health emergency has ended, data will be either destroyed or returned.

A beta form of the dashboard will be shared with government decision-makers this week, the government has said. The intention is to develop a separate dashboard “to support public understanding”, making the code and data open source wherever possible.

Metrics to be displayed include occupancy levels in hospitals, divided by general beds and critical care beds; current capacity at A&E departments and wait times; and statistics about the length of stay for Covid-19 patients. The project is also being supported by Microsoft, Palantir Technologies UK, Amazon Web Services, Faculty, and Google.

Cambridge University creates logistics centre for PPE equipment donated by its labs

Cambridge University has established a logistics centre with its spin-out company RedBite, which processes donations of personal protective equipment such as face masks, gloves, and visors developed by Cambridge labs. The equipment is being made readily available to NHS medics.

RedBite’s ‘itemit’ object-tracking technology is being used for logging vital information regarding the donated equipment. Only items approved by the NHS are forwarded on, while allowing a wide variety of local services to check what is available in real-time and order what they require.

According to the University, the operation to co-ordinate personal protective equipment (PPE) donations is part of its response to the coronavirus crisis, alongside its researchers’ work to help understand and control the spread of the novel infection.

Cambridge University enterprise and business relations pro-vice-chancellor Andy Neely, who is leading the operation, said: “The response to this emergency by the University community has been incredible. When the seriousness of the situation became clear, staff in labs across the University began collecting up all available protective equipment so it could be used by NHS clinicians treating Covid-19 patients”.

IIT researchers developing robots to work in Covid-19 isolation wards

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) are developing robots to work in Covid-19 isolation wards. The hope is that the robots will deliver food and medicine, thereby reducing the level of necessary human intervention in the wards.

The research team is developing two types of robot – one for delivery, and the other to collect toxic and contagious waste from the wards. The team expects a prototype to be ready for a test run in two weeks’ time.

The Institute is also in the process of setting up an advanced research centre and laboratory for Covid-19 analysis, which would help the entire Northeast region to test for Covid-19.

"Our idea is to make this a state-of-the-art facility for the entire Northeast region. This centre in future would help to develop highly competent manpower for diagnosis of different infectious diseases in the early stage of infection and thus its prevention too," said IIT Guwahati Director, Professor Sitharam.


UK Government

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