Learning from a crisis - building resilience by virtualising care

Tony Bowden, Chief Executive Officer at Helicon Health—a new member of techUK—on recent lessons learned for the organisation in helping the healthcare sector provide treatment during COVID-19. These are purely Tony's personal observations and interpretation of situations he was closely involved with. 


Helicon Health is a UK SME – a spin out from University College London – working in collaboration with InTouch Health. Helicon Health runs clinical trials and delivers programmes in IoT and Virtualisation.  


In the first week of March 2020 a visit was arranged for a leader in the use of virtualisation technologies for remote consultation by a prominent neo natal consultant from a renowned health system to visit Neonatal Intensivists and Surgeons at Alder Hey as a part of the Global Digital Exemplar programme. 

What happened next?

Over the course of the period starting 16 March a number of consultants at Alder Hey and Liverpool Women’s Hospitals needed to be shielded at home as a result of potential exposure to COVID-19. This meant they would not be able to do their ward rounds unless a solution could be found. Having recently learned from an expert practitioner, a call for a loan of virtualisation technology went out through the GDE group and Salford Royal with Pennine offered to loan some advanced virtualisation technologies.

Time was of the essence and arrangements were made for loan equipment under the terms of a special offer to cover six months of the COVID emergency to be put in vans and cars and set up remotely. The technology worked immediately, and the shielded Consultants continued their ward rounds as usual minimizing disruption and delay and risk.  

Some lessons learned – during the COVID emergency – and the implications for the post-COVID world

 The clinical team at Alder Hey and Liverpool Women’s Hospital were already aware of the practical difficulties of staff working between two sites across the city. The COVID crisis made this very much worse and with risks of cross infection the need was to minimise physical visits, to save time and enable consultants to work from home.  

Lessons from COVID: Care Pathway changes on the fly! 

The experience showed that such technologies can in extremis be put into action to enable radical transformation of working practices such that the location of a consultant is no longer of primary importance and work can be conducted with quality from home and at a distance. 

What we learnt is when the stars align and the right people are thinking about and planning for technology enabled change, we can collectively support frontline staff in the NHS and in Care Homes and at home. This has huge potential for patients and staff and for Government, business and communities.  We are now working on many projects delivering healthcare at a distance across a spectrum of use cases including: 

  • To Care Homes 
  • Direct to homes 
  • And on the move in ambulances 

Thanks to Tony at Helicon Health - you can connect with the company on LinkedIn, and read a further insight from April 2020: How health tech companies are responding to COVID-19


To read more from #procuring4growth Campaign Week visit our landing page by clicking here.

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