Introducing the NHS COVID-19 Text Messaging Service

March 25, 2020

A fast-track digital health service is allowing the NHS to understand the impact of COVID-19 on patients and its progression and spread across the UK. Valtech have helped to develop the NHS COVID-19 text messaging service.

In just 10 days, Valtech worked tirelessly with NHS Digital, NHS Business Services Authority, NHS 111 and NHS X to develop and stand up the NHS COVID-19 text messaging service. This service is simple in its ambition but complex in its multi-agency execution, and provides powerful data to help drive both operational and clinical decisions. In only a few days, over 13,000 people signed up to use the service.

nhsThe service provides both clinical and operational benefits. Clinically, it serves two key roles.

Firstly, it acts at a population level to nudge daily those who have self-diagnosed to remain self-isolated and reduce the spread of the infection.

Secondly, the service will soon steer people towards the appropriate urgent and emergency care they need while keeping those who don’t need urgent care reassured, but away from front line services.

Striking this balance is key to efficient use of the NHS’s front line. The more efficient this use can be, the more lives will be saved.

From the perspective of technologies, it is the pace at which government technology platforms can be composed that stands out. GOV.UK Notify is being rightly lauded  for its central role in responding to this crisis, and the investment both NHS Digital and NHS BSA have made in Cloud platforms paid dividends in the rapid delivery of this auto-scaling, serverless technology. In testing, the service scaled seamlessly and automatically to cope with volumes of over 1.3 million messages sent per day.

This was only possible because both organisations have invested not just in technology, but in their own digital transformation. Not only were best-of-breed Cloud services available, there was an expert set of teams working alongside Valtech able to deliver this joined-up service quickly and in a truly multi-disciplinary way.

As we look to a post-COVID 19 future, we can hope that the innovation driven by the crisis has a lasting and positive legacy for the pace and quality of digital delivery.

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