The government has announced Facebook will provide thousands of video calling devices, as part of a programme to help care home residents and patients keep in touch with loved ones.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the social media giant will provide up to 2,050 of its Portal video calling devices for free to hospitals, care homes and other settings including hospices, in-patient learning disability and autism units.
The Whitehall department said 50 of the devices have already been deployed to pilot sites in Surrey, with Manchester, Newcastle and London and other areas to follow, with support from Accenture.
All the care homes and care settings involved in the pilot will be able to keep the devices free of charge, and use as they see fit after the pilot phase is completed.
The Department that added that its digital transformation section NHSX is working with a range of technology companies to support the NHS and social care system.
Additional ideas being developed include enabling health and care staff to work remotely when they may be advised to work at home, improving communication between clinical and care teams, shifting hospital outpatients to virtual appointments, and accelerating the use of online and video consultations within GP and primary care services.
‘Technology companies big and small continue to pledge their resources and expertise to support our NHS and social care system in these unprecedented times,’ said NHSX digital transformation director, Iain O’Neil.
‘We are working hard to find and develop services that meet people’s equally unprecedented needs. Technology has never been so important to providing one of life’s most essential things – the ability to communicate with the people we love regardless of where they are.’
Facebook’s head of health technology, Freddy Abnousi added: ‘We designed Portal to give people an easy way to connect and be more present with their loved ones. With the global pandemic and social distancing measures, the ability to stay connected is more important than ever.
‘That’s why we are piloting a programme with NHSX to provide Portal devices in hospitals and other care settings to support patients and help reduce social isolation.’
Photo Credit – Nastya Gepp (Pixabay)