Innovative medical technologies are set to play a key role in the nation’s COVID-19 response. Dr Kit Latham, CEO of London-based medical HR specialists Credentially, explains why.

COVID-19 is the greatest public health challenge the UK has faced in a generation. In order to tackle the pandemic head-on, it’s vital that we mobilise an expanded force of healthcare workers and volunteers as quickly as possible. It has been heartening to see so many people step up to the plate over the last few weeks, but there are still major challenges to overcome in this respect – obstacles that can only be surmounted by harnessing the power of technology.

Unfortunately, the way we traditionally hire healthcare workers could act as a major stumbling block to adequately combatting the virus. The NHS’s hiring process usually takes between three and six months, and for every 10 clinicians that apply for a job in healthcare – not just within the NHS – only five will ever work a shift. Sadly, up to 50% become frustrated and give up on the process.

In the current circumstances, it’s more important than ever to train, on-board and validate staff as swiftly and safely as is practicably possible. These are the hurdles we sought to overcome when we established Credentially. Our signature software makes clinical HR and compliance processes quicker and easier for healthcare workers and their employers, so they can get to the frontline of the COVID-19 response ASAP. The software also reduces the manual work involved in getting a health worker on the shop floor by up to 90%, and – most helpfully in this age of social distancing – it eliminates the need for face-to-face interaction.

I believe we will see apps, robotics and telecare medicine play an increasingly important role in the weeks to come. Apps in particular can serve millions of individuals with no marginal cost per patient treated. They can be downloaded by tens of thousands of people each day, whereas a doctor can only see a limited number of patients in that time. While software can never replace the role of a care giver, it can certainly aid in diagnosis and help with the management and treatment of patients.

Robotics, meanwhile, have the potential to increase both the manufacturing capacity of medical consumables and pharmaceuticals and can even deliver care, including highly technical surgical interventions.

Telemedicine has already shown its value during the COVID-19 crisis. When paired with remote patient monitoring technology it can provide care to patients in the comfort and safety of their own homes, whilst radically reducing the potential for infection.

One company that is already doing this to great effect is Careology – a fantastic start-up that produces remote monitoring technology to measure vital signs and other indicators of clinical condition from patients’ homes. When allied with automated validation technology and telemedicine, this allows patients to be safely managed without putting them or clinical staff at risk of COVID-19 infection. It also helps to take the pressure off acute care services at a time when they are likely to be overwhelmed.

At Credentially we are proud to work with leading UK providers of telemedicine such as Doctor Care Anywhere, GPDQ and Teladoc, and indeed, we’ve recently seen a huge increase in demand for telemedicine services. It is clear to me that innovative medical technologies will play a major part in managing the COVID-19 crisis, and I fully expect their popularity to endure long after the pandemic has been successfully dealt with.