The digital health collaboration protecting health staff from COVID-19

The digital health collaboration protecting health staff from COVID-19
© iStock/tadamichi

Europe is making a collaborative effort in the fight against COVID-19 and now, a new digital health collaboration with EIT Health, an Irish startup, and more than 600 healthcare providers is furthering the effort.

As part of the collaboration, an Irish startup, supported by EIT Health, has launched an online digital health portal that allows GPs and healthcare providers to treat people remotely, reducing their risk of catching COVID-19.

The patient communication portal, Wellola, is delivering integrated healthcare at scale and is now being utilised in the fight against COVID-19 in order to help keep healthcare providers safe by ensuring remote care can be delivered in a secure, digitalised system.

A digital collaboration

The GDPR-compliant, patient-facing platform offers, among other functions, online booking, video consultations, document sharing and the opportunity for patients to complete forms and assessments – all while recognising the importance of a personal touch. 

Sonia Neary, Wellola CEO, said: “Our tool is designed for your own GP or healthcare provider to connect with you, because that relationship is so important.”

Built on the foundations of integrated care, the Dublin-based company were chosen to collaborate with Ireland’s public health and social care provider, the HSE – a remote online care solution for citizens suffering from COVID-19 – as the impact of COVID-19 grew. Wellola has since collaborated with Health Innovation Hub and the Irish Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists to make their portal available to mental health care providers in Ireland also.

Wellola’s collaboration with the HSE is helping to mitigate risk during the pandemic by triaging patients before they attend a GP practice or hospital. The portal also offers remote care provisions for patients who are self-isolating, as well as supporting GPs who may need flexible working options.  

“While there are some products similar to ours on the market, Wellola can be tailored and white-labelled with relative ease; in this case, specifically for the Irish market, for the Irish public sector,” explains Neary, talking about the bespoke platform. Several primary care centres, mental health centres and hospitals, are using Wellola to care for the different needs of patients.

Maintaining care pathways

The agile nature of the care-enabling technology has attracted the interest of healthcare providers from across Europe. In mid-April, Wellola partnered with a UK-based social prescribing platform, Elemental, to enable link workers and their communities to connect through video consultations.

Neary commented: “Initially the platform was for GPs who were on the front line, but we started receiving inquiries from outpatient departments who wanted to maintain their care pathways, albeit remotely. Where possible, they’re trying to find other ways to care for their patient caseload rather than onsite.

“And even allied health care providers, mental health care providers in particular, still need a way to connect and know that the environment in which they’re engaging in is still professional and secure.”

The team is also working with sole-trading mental health care providers in the UK-Ireland region, as well as exploring collaborations in Portugal.

“We have been in touch with several acute hospitals in Portugal. New markets have presented themselves and we are delighted to be working with them,” Neary added.

“We have received a lot of feedback and it has really helped us enhance the system. We didn’t have a waiting room function but in the next release that will be available so that the hospitals can still work in the way they’re used to when using our system.”

While the digitalisation of integrated healthcare has long been discussed; the award-winning platform is demonstrating its vitalness for healthcare providers who want to deliver high quality care in every setting.

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