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Guest blog: How the pandemic has been a personal and a professional challenge

Written by: Chloe Irwin Whitney - 29th July 2020

Chloe Irwin Whitney, Client Solutions Lead at digital innovators DrDoctor, writes about how the spring and early summer months have been some of the most challenging times of her life – professionally and personally.

The crisis that has been COVID-19 has hit all of us in ways I think we could not have anticipated. Many have found a new appreciation for teachers, others have found new hobbies, we have found gems in our local neighbourhoods and many have tragically lost loved ones along the way.

For me, the pandemic has turned life plans upside down and it has created amazing new opportunities for our business. I work for DrDoctor, a UK company which has been supporting the NHS over the last eight years to deliver remote care and improve communication with patients.

When we heard the news of the crisis in China, we knew things were serious. Then it started appearing in Europe, and we saw the huge challenge which Italy faced and began to realise this was on our doorstep and we needed to prepare. Then it arrived in the UK, and that’s when things really accelerated.

At DrDoctor, we re-organised and refocused to deploy a number of COVID-19 specific solutions. Our product team were working shifts to get these into production, and our implementation team were working with Trusts on roll out and communication strategies.

We’ve seen 830,000 appointments cancelled, and our Trusts have sent out more than 1.2 million messages to keep their patients updated along the way.

Now we’re in a second phase and supporting the NHS with their recovery. The cancellation of services and reduction in referrals has created a significant backlog, and teams are having to rethink how they manage their space so that they can bring outpatients back safely. This will mean developing substantial triage processes, moving to telephone and video consultations where appropriate, and continuing to make sure we keep patients well informed along the way.

On April 15th, I was meant to be moving home to be closer to my family in New Zealand, a country which has been applauded for its handling of the situation. This resulted in three weeks in early March of flip-flopping daily on our decision to stay or go, as we saw international travel shut down and the New Zealand Government sending out messages to Kiwis living overseas that if they wanted to return home they should do so immediately.

In the end I’m pleased we stayed. It has meant I’ve witnessed incredible resilience, I’ve seen teams rally together, and I’ve been inspired by the drive to deliver the change required for our country to respond.

Plus, it was 30 degrees and blue skies here at times rather than 15 degrees and torrential rain in Wellington!

Visit DrDoctor’s website to find out more about their COVID-19 response toolkit

Find out more about the work Yorkshire & Humber AHSN has been doing with with DrDoctor