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NHS Highland backs coronavirus app for care homes


NHS Highland has backed plans to test a mobile app using mesh technology to fight the spread of Covid-19 and other viruses.

The Scottish health board’s collaboration partner, Highland Health Ventures (HHVL), has signed an agreement with Cambridge based technology company Wyld Networks to test the use of the app in Scottish care homes.

A spokesperson foe Wyld said they plan to run the first implementation within the next few weeks, and if successful it could be more widely applied.

The solution relies on all staff and visitors downloading the app on their phones and inputting Covid-19 test results and details of any symptoms, which are fed into a diagnostic algorithm to create a risk profile. Residents without a smartphone could be given a wearable devices such as an electronic wristband.

Data hops

The mesh technology makes connections through cellular or Wi-Fi networks, making it possible for data to ‘hop’ between phones to deliver notifications, alerts and other content, while also measuring social distancing.

This makes it possible to create virtual ‘geozones’ around a care homes, maintaining the two-metre distance between people using the app and helping to quarantine specific areas. Anyone approaching a geozone will be sent a message instantly to let them them know if they are allowed to enter.

Care home managers will also be able to use real time data from the analytics platform to contact and advise anyone who has been in close contact with someone has tested positive or shown symptoms of Covid-19.

The technology was originally created to deliver location-aware information in situations such as as major sporting events, music festivals and in retail centres.

Innovation factor

“Supporting innovation across the healthcare system is more important than ever and will be central to securing transformation and improved care,” said Frances Hines, research, development and innovation manager in NHS Highland.

“Creating the conditions for more collaborative approaches to innovation and enabling the adoption of cost-effective new technologies will be key, and we are pleased to be working together with Wyld and HHVL to deliver innovative potential solutions for care homes.”

Statistics from the National Records of Scotland show that more than half of the recorded coronavirus deaths in Scotland over recent weeks were in care homes. Data from the Office of National Statistics also reports that 12,526 care home residents have died due to coronavirus in England and Wales during the four months to May.

Image by Andri Koolme, CC BY 2.0

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