Case Study

Inside Scotland’s fight against COVID-19

How a contact tracing app helped the country re-open while keeping its people safe

When it comes to saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, every moment counts.

For doctors and nurses, that means making split-second decisions about treating desperately ill patients.

For our political leaders, it means striking the right balance between lifting lockdown restrictions to reopen economies and containing and controlling the virus.

All that requires reliable data and robust, resilient technology, developed in partnership with trustworthy partners. ServiceNow is working with the National Health Service (NHS) across the UK to ensure frontline workers and policymakers have easy access to the information they need.

For instance, Scotland launched new test and trace systems at the end of May. These systems are critical to the success of any lockdown relaxation. They help ensure that any new outbreaks of the virus are contained. The ability to test and trace also makes it possible for any re-impositions of restrictions to be highly localised, allowing the majority of the country and the economy to operate more normally.

[Read also: Reinvent government, one workflow at a time]

ServiceNow has been at the forefront of these efforts, working with NHS Scotland to develop its contact-tracing application. We’ve worked with NHS National Services Scotland for three years, and the strength of our relationship has been invaluable during COVID-19. As NHS National Services Scotland director of Digital and Security, Deryck Mitchelson explains:

“Around critical issues such as PPE, ServiceNow has both enabled health boards to swiftly order the items and quantity they need and empowered new supply partners to be able to provide support.

“Our collaboration with ServiceNow has expanded NSS’s strategic capability to support the health service in Scotland. Our investment in ServiceNow has allowed us to maximise value for NSS while building out a platform that can provide economy of scale and enable rapid deployment across a vast range of use scenarios.

“We continue to work together to develop and optimise custom applications and business-driven workflow. By doing so we have been able to take legacy manual processes and automate them to improve employee experience and save time and effort.

“The benefit of our collaboration has been felt profoundly during the COVID-19 pandemic. It has allowed us to more effectively deliver our critical services to the NHS in Scotland under the most challenging circumstances.”

Contact tracing poses considerable challenges

When someone reports possible symptoms, tracers have to capture the details about that individual, distribute a testing kit, and then begin the often laborious process of making contact with anyone who might have interacted with the sick person.

Ensuring that all of this information is recorded and that cases are managed efficiently is a significant task—even more so given the speed with which everything has had to be created.

For NHS Scotland, the priority has been streamlining the development and implementation of the contact tracing app to ensure seamless integration with its test and trace contact centre.

Given the scale of the challenge of creating, managing, and maintaining the contact tracing system, complex software issues are the last thing anyone wants to be concerned with. Technology should enable a process and not hinder it. The platform must be efficient and easy to administer, rather than a potential source of additional headaches.

This is where ServiceNow comes in. Our digital workflow solutions manage the flow of information, minimizing distractions for the contact tracing team and allowing them to get on with their important work.

NHS Scotland leveraged technology designed to deliver digital workflows that simplify complexity. This allowed them to massively accelerate development of their test and trace application. In fact, the service delivery layer was developed and delivered in only a month.

This example serves to highlight that, even in the most extreme circumstances, government doesn’t have to build solutions from scratch with custom code. Quite the opposite.

Technology should enable a process and not hinder it.

When it comes to software solutions, so much of the hard work has already been done. By capitalising on plug-and-play technologies, public services can accelerate time to value and focus on the important work of delivering services, rather than getting bogged down in software development.

Dealing with the COVID-19 crisis continues to be an extreme challenge for governments and citizens alike. But as our test and trace application example for NHS Scotland shows, trusted technology partners can help governments respond to difficult situations quicker than ever before.

In the short-term, enterprise-ready technology is allowing citizens to move on and carry on with their lives while we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the longer term, closer collaboration between government and enterprise tech providers offers a model for simplifying the delivery of government services. This model that can help make the world of work, work better, not just for the NHS, but for every public service delivery worldwide.

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