In just four weeks, CDS CIC has established a whole IT infrastructure to support patient triage and consultation by phone or video, hand-in-hand with mobilising remote working for many of its almost 500 strong workforce in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
At present, face to face dental treatment is being reserved for only the most urgent cases through a network of Urgent Dental Care Centres, with most patients being given advice on self-care, pain relief and prescriptions where necessary.
A secure video conferencing facility has been quickly put in place to enable dentists to see and talk to their patients. CDS requested and was granted access to an NHS Digital approved solution and is one of only handful of external partners allowed to use the technology, to ensure secure management of patient data.
Unable to see patients in-person, Dentists have had to rely on phone and video calls to diagnose and treat dental problems remotely while maintaining patient confidentiality and security around patient data over home or clinic Wi-Fi.
In some clinics, a lack of Wi-Fi has been a problem, so 4G enabled iPads with built in Wi-Fi have been rolled out. To enable secure, shared access, CDS has worked directly with Apple to develop a business solution similar to that used in classroom applications – the first time this application has been used in a UK business environment. A special app was also installed to ensure users could continue to monitor connection strength and status.
Ensuing the high degree of connectivity and confidentiality to provide dental care digitally, has required a high degree of testing and roll out across CDS multi-site estate and employees’ domestic IT environment, with much of the workforce now working from home, alongside close liaison with clinical colleagues to develop protocols for providing patient care by phone and video.
Tracy Balachandran, Finance and Commercial Director for CDS said: ‘The scale of what we have had to put in place in such a short time has been remarkable given we have faced the challenges of ensuring connectivity and secure access over a range of locations, networks and devices. Its been really exciting tackling these issues and finding some completely new ways of doing things, such as working with Apple to develop their new solution to secure access for multiple users on one ipad.”