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COVID-19; Digital Health response for the UK and Australia

During the current outbreak of COVID-19, adherence to official national guidance1 is a primary determinant of the effectiveness of any precautionary steps that members of the public take.  There is currently a wealth of advice shared from various sources, including the NHS and Government around self-isolation, social distancing and other preventative measures. 

However, people may be overwhelmed with the deluge of official information and updates, and confused by misinformation spread via word of mouth and social media.  This is a particular problem for vulnerable groups and serves to exacerbate anxiety.

While concerns about COVID-19 are raised globally, for at risk groups (e.g. the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions such as respiratory or heart diseases), the outbreak is even more concerning as the consequences of contracting the virus are more severe. 

At the time of writing, Simple Shared Healthcare are collaborating with NHS organisations on pathways to help patients self-isolating and social-distancing at home.  The collaboration has created a bank of advice messages and structured protocols based on official NHS and Government guidance that can be integrated into pathways with Flo, covering all manner of topics from symptom tracking, hygiene, loneliness and isolation, to advice for parents.

Flo’s gentle prompts are also designed to encourage subtle behaviour-change over time.  This is particularly crucial for those self-isolating or social-distancing to ensure guidelines are followed to reduce the likelihood of contracting or further spreading COVID-19.

Building on Flo’s considerable capability, her ‘Next- Gen’ cousins Clara and Nellie, who’ve been working for over 2 years in Australia, USA and UK, offer a service specifically designed for a rapid public health response.  The foresight of NHS Stoke-on-Trent inspired us to add a layer of functionality to Clara we called self- subscribe.
This enables healthcare workers to ‘prescribe’ Clara for a patient.  The healthcare worker simply advises the patient to text a keyword to a specific mobile number and that’s it!

In the case of COVID-19, this may be as simple as a general self/household isolation protocol which provides a trusted source of information and advice; thus reducing anxiety, increasing adherence and directing patients on the appropriate use of NHS resources at any particular time during self-isolation or just helping vulnerable patients to manage pre-existing conditions.  Clara engages patients with a rich dialogue and updates to guidance provided to patients can be done on the fly, hot off the press.

Most importantly for patients using either Flo or Clara, they feel that they have a ‘human’ connection to their healthcare provider, making them feel that they are not facing this alone, helping to mitigate the mental health issues that self-isolation may cause in many patients.

If you would like to discuss how Flo could potentially support patients during this testing time or are interested in self-subscribe with Clara, please contact us via our website and a member of the team will get back to you.

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