Southern HSCT releases new COVID-19 comms app for employees

  • Photo: Denise Mulholland, ward assistant at Craigavon Area Hospital

    A new communications app has been developed within four weeks for healthcare employees to share real-time information during the Covid-19 pandemic.

    The Southern Health & Social Care Trust (SHSCT) is working with global software firm, Civica to provide its workers with the new SHSCT Connect app.

    It will keep the trust’s employees informed of the latest coronavirus updates and act as a central hub for issuing alerts and data.

    SHSCT provides health and social care services across five council areas in Northern Ireland and employs more than 13,000 people.

    Civica had previously been working with the trust to support delivery of care using its patient administration and document management systems.

    The trust commissioned Civica to help build its Connect app following its collaboration with the Northern Ireland Department of Health to develop the COVID-19 NI mobile app.

    It was developed in a month following a virtual design workshop with Civica, SHSCT and UX design company, Big Motive, within the Civica North Star lab.

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    The app also includes podcasts and newsletters, and a chatbot functionality to enable employees to have questions answered.

    It then provides a daily breakdown of questions being asked so the trust’s communications team can refine the content and resources within the app accordingly.

    The trust can also send out push notifications for important announcements, such as notifying employees of a new PPE delivery.

    Vivienne Toal, director of human resources at the trust said: “Together with Civica and Big Motive, we have been working extremely hard over the past month to find a way to ensure all our employees, including those who do not have easy access to a computer, can access information regarding news, benefits and health and wellbeing on a regular basis.

    “Engaging with and listening to our staff is fundamental to helping us create a great place to work. One of the key areas we identified for improvement following our 2019 staff survey was communication and engagement, so we are thrilled that this app will enable us to connect and engage with everyone across the organisation quickly and effectively.

    "This roll-out is just the first phase and we are very excited about how the app will develop over time.”

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    Steve Brain, executive director of health and care at Civica added: “Technology and software are key enablers to improving communications and driving efficiencies across the NHS.

    “While Covid-19 drove the creation of the app, it has also been designed as part of the trust’s wider digital transformation plan and will continue to function as a key HR and communications platform post-pandemic. The trust is also looking at using the app to provide online and virtual training as well as clinical guidance for medical workers in the future.”

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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