On a Tuesday night, in March 2020 at 9pm, TEKenable received a call for help from the Health Service Executive (HSE) via Microsoft. The HSE asked if we could muster a multi-disciplinary IT team to support the Emergency Response Team in the delivery of COVID-19 related systems. The call went out to many reputable IT providers as the HSE realised that the unique situation could not be managed using existing IT systems and business processes.
TEKenable provided seven full-time staff into the HSE by 9 am, the day after the 9 pm request was received, some on-site with the Response team in Dr Steeven’s Hospital in Dublin and some working remotely. Over the coming days KPMG, EY and PwC also responded with small teams or individuals.
What was required of us was not known at this time.
The immediate need was to design, build and deploy a Contact Tracing System. The system was to be designed, developed, delivered and live in a week and a half. It was to be delivered to circa 1200 users spread over multiple locations who were drawn from different disciplines. The first team to use the system would be the Irish Army, who were busy turning the ground floor of the hospital into a contact tracing centre.
Working long hours and weekends, TEKenable collaborated on the design with the HSE and the Army, built the Contact Tracing Application, deployed it to the call centre and clinicians using a Low Code platform, and went live within the one and a half weeks deadline.
The system receives laboratory test results from COVID testing centres, triggers the initial call to positive patients, gathers details of who they have been in contact with, contacts them, does a basic medical assessment of their condition, deals with special cases such as healthcare workers and other persons with a large number of potential contacts as well as family and friends contacts. The system is a key tool in the reduction of the rate of spread of the viral outbreak.
Contact Tracing is not the only project that we have delivered in this emergency. Others include data collection via mobile applications and portal interfaces that capture data points that are critical for effective crisis management and that are not captured in any current IT systems. We are currently in the process of delivering a temporary hospital management system that addresses bed allocation, patient tracking, equipment assignment and also working on building software that is optimising the testing of potential COVID patients in temporary test centres.
As can be seen from the image below, we have also been responsible for the delivery of many other projects.
The projects include:
- National Ambulance Service Capacity Monitoring;
- Fatality Tracking;
- Hospital Bloodstock Level Management;
- Offers of Assistance;
- Lab Data Collection;
- Mortuary Remains Tracking;
- Data Governance Access Management and
- Temporary Staff Recruitment.
Additionally, we have collaborated with other service providers in creating a Data Lake for information gathering and using data visualisation tools to deliver key data and trends to the crisis management team in near real-time.
We will remain engaged with the HSE as long as the requirement persists and we continue to bring value.
We have recently integrated the highly publicised Mobile App as a data source for the Contact Tracing system and at the time of writing (August 2020) have just been awarded a contract to implement a National PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) ordering and stock management system for the HSE. This will also be delivered using the Power Platform.
The outcome is two words – Lives Saved.
We played a small, but key, part in helping to keep people who were exposed to the virus, but unaware of that, away from others, in enabling the Emergency Response Team to have the data that they need to make informed decisions and in ensuring the effective use of finite resources. We did all this in weeks compared to a “normal project” of this scope that would have required many months, if not years to deliver, and we did so while remaining compliant with GDPR and IT security considerations.
The author of this document has 35 years of bespoke software delivery experience ranging from safety-critical systems, financial services and healthcare and I have literally never seen systems designed and developed so fast and so successfully in the context of an evolving situation, in a very stressful environment and with many dispersed stakeholders. This can become a model of software delivery for the future.