Over the course of an extraordinary weekend in March 2020, accuRx – a digital healthcare start-up supported by Innovate UK – developed and rolled out video consultation software that enabled UK healthcare providers to communicate remotely with their patients – minimising infection risk from seeing patients with COVID-19.
Within a couple of months, the software was used to conduct over one million video consultations and was in use in 6,700 GP practices. It protected NHS workers and patients and increased NHS efficiency, saving each user around 40 minutes per day.
This achievement was in response to an NHS call for all GPs to start video consulting and pre-appointment screening for COVID-19.
Video consultation for GP surgeries
accuRx co-founder, Jacob Haddad, said:
Although we hadn’t scheduled video consultation into our product plan, it’s what frontline NHS staff needed immediately. Most GPs lacked the tools to do this and we knew we had the capability to develop it.
We worked round the clock over that weekend. By Monday we had released video consulting software and text-message-based pre-appointment screening for COVID-19 to 3,500 practices already using our core SMS messaging software – around 50% of UK practices.
Two weeks later, 75% of practices were using our technology, with over 35,000 consultations taking place daily.
Software for COVID-19
The team was just getting started. Within weeks they had successfully launched a version of video consultation for use by care teams in hospitals and other care staff in the community, which all NHS staff could access and use immediately.
accuRx co-founder, Laurence Bargery, said:
Our story shows that when software is well designed, built around the needs of users and easy to access, it spreads fast.
accuRx was founded in 2016 and, with the help of UKRI funding, was able to spend time with frontline NHS staff to understand their problems and the pinch points that existed in primary care software.
With support from Innovate UK through the Digital Health Technology Catalyst, over nine million NHS patients have been messaged using accuRx software, and more than 75,000 healthcare professionals are using the technology each week.
Communication in healthcare
Spending a lot of time with our users has always been at the core of how we operate. In the early days, we spent three months in a GP practice to see how they operated and where the problems were.
What we learned is that healthcare, which used to be a knowledge industry, due to the complexity of the system, has become a communications industry. Everything we have built since is intended to help healthcare professionals to communicate better, both with each other and with their patients.
The verdict from GPs
Feedback from healthcare professionals across the country has been overwhelmingly positive. Andy Jones, a GP from Wales, said:
What accuRx has done to upscale video contact and texting during the COVID-19 crisis has been nothing short of outstanding.
Richard Berkley, a Bristol-based GP, was equally impressed. He says:
Using accuRx’s technology has been one of the biggest transformations in my 25 years as a GP.
Collective support for the company led to a Twitter campaign that saw many GPs retweeting: ‘The accuRx team deserve an award for their responsiveness during COVID-19, they have transformed primary care’s ability to deliver remote consultations’.
Last updated: 28 October 2020