Helping the NHS at a time of need – a good news story in challenging times
The team at AdEPT Technology deliver solutions that impact more than 2.1m patients, thousands of health sector staff, hundreds of GP practices and many care homes nationwide.
All of which have had to rapidly adapt to the changing world caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Relevance for investors
Striking the right balance between public and private sector clients has always been important to AdEPT, with our turnover being roughly 45 per cent public sector – across the NHS, education and government – and 55 per cent commercial, of which there are thousands of customers.
This balance gives AdEPT access to multiple types of client, creating a resilience as one sector waxes, whilst the other wanes. This dynamic has never been more important than at this extreme time for the UK economy.
AdEPT operating in the health arena
AdEPT has a long-standing presence within the Health Sector. Over recent years the AdEPT presence in Health has accelerated as, working with our partner, Convergence Group, we have deployed a secure and performant digital network across Kent, as part of the UK wide Health and Social Care Network (HSCN) deployment.
These AdEPT provisioned data networks are supporting over 30 NHS Trusts and and many large private hospitals such as Great Ormond Street (GOSH).
These challenging times have led to the NHS and the private sector working ever more closely – for example AdEPT customer, HCA, the Health Corporation of America operate approximately 70% of the private hospitals in London,, is now providing extensive services, beds and expertise to the NHS to relieve the pressure on existing NHS facilities.
Whilst the challenge of remote working and increases in patient numbers has also brought about massive changes to the front-line staff in Doctor’s surgeries. Aworld well known to AdEPT given it services over 400 Doctor’s surgeries across the UK, who, in turn look after over 500,000 patients.
A new word for challenging times – unprecedented. These are indeed unprecedented times. Daily podium appearances by the Cabinet, charts and graphs depicting infection rates and deaths, instructions to stay home and Government advertisements imploring people to socially distance.
We are learning new phrases like ‘furlough’, lockdown’, ‘social distancing’ and ‘key worker’ – with AdEPT employees classified as key workers to help keep the UK moving. It’s clear that Information Technology, telephony and networking have never been more critical to the functioning of the UK. It’s no wonder that services AdEPT provide are being called the ‘4th utility’.
Rising to the challenge
Immediately AdEPT saw a massive rise in requests for help, with AdEPT service desks experiencing in some cases a 10-fold increase in support calls, with many originating from Primary Care and Doctors surgeries – in a three week period AdEPT fielded over 1500 support requests from NHS sites.
The calls varied – some surgeries requested help to update messages to inform the public on the best medical advicea lot of further changes. These became frequent as the advice constantly changed. In a gesture, just like many other businesses, AdEPT provided this service to the NHS free of charge.
Working practices changed overnight. Many surgeries now decided to triage every request for an appointment. This increases the burden on the front-line teams and their communication facilities – but with the benefit of a reduced burden on the doctors themselves.
Addressing this surge in demand would sometimes be achieved remotely with a simple remote change, but with older systems a visit to the practice was required. Again, AdEPT chose to provide our engineering resources at no cost to deliver this service.
Sales Director, Tracy Jackson, based at AdEPT’s Doncaster office, deals with many of these GP surgeries. Tracy commented “our engineers feel proud to do what they can to support the NHS, and many are working additional hours to complete this work without any financial recognition.”
The Virtual Surgery
The world we live in has changed significantly over the past few weeks and the way Doctors provide primary care has also changed. We are conditioned to expect all primary care needs to be supplied at a central location – the Surgery.
With long standing roles; receptionists taking the calls and booking appointments, doctors and nurses sitting in consulting rooms, with waiting rooms full of patients waiting to see the clinicians.
Surgeries, and their technology partners, have suddenly been challenged to find solutions that will support administration teams and receptionists working from home. With a substantial increase the volume of incoming calls and a sudden change to the process – with triage on all calls.
Analogue in a Digital World
The infrastructure of many Doctor’s surgeries is typically set up onsite with no, or very little, remote working requirement. The idea of a virtual surgery just wasn’t a design goal.
This challenge is slowly being addressed, with better bandwidth and a better understanding of how to build security and remotely accessible solutions.
Some exemplars leading the way
Care Plus Group are providers of community health and care services in the North East Lincs region. Care Plus are an example of the art of the possible, having fully embraced the convergence of voice and data. Within the Care Plus technical architecture the voice solution is a fully embedded application supported by their IT team with back up from AdEPT.
Immediately after the government announcement of lock-down the AdEPT team had a call from Care Plus asking – “how can we support this new world of remote working?” Their mission, to ensure care services would be maintained during the Covid-19 outbreak.
Fortunately, as leaders not laggards, their converged network made the solution simple. Their telephony architecture – Avaya IP Office Server Edition – supported the softphone solution for both administrators and contact centre staff. AdEPT simply applied the correct license and they were up and running within 24 hours.
Sadly, not so easy for some
This was not as simple for surgeries without converged networks and with poor bandwidth. For these AdEPT had to find a solution that;
a) Did not require any Clinical Commissioning Group IT expertise – as these teams were stretched due to the crisis, and
b) Did not put any further demands on the limited bandwidth available in the NHS N3/HSCN networks.
Rising to the challenge
To solve this problem AdEPT combined the strong call routing capabilities of the telephone system held on-site at the surgery and the flexibility of the AdEPT Nebula Cloud Hosted voice platform. In essence, AdEPT routed the on-premise solution to the cloud hosted solution – to provide the virtual surgery capability.
The solution enabled administration and reception staff to work from home, fielding high volumes of calls due to the increased demands on primary care.
It delivered calls straight to their mobiles, with the calls still fully recorded and secure, whilst maintaining the high service levels their patients expect. For example, explaining to patients where they were in a queue and routing calls to the right Doctor’s teams.
The solution provided Doctors with the ability to make calls from their mobiles while at home. Calls that are secure, fully recorded and appear to be coming from the surgery.
Neither the ‘diverted on-premise’ solution nor the ‘hosted cloud’ solution required any increased number of lines or expensive software licenses. They were provided within hours of the request arriving, are provided on a monthly basis and can be turned off without penalty when this crisis ends.
Impacting the lives of many
This is a solution that has now been provided to 150 surgeries – with many more being deployed daily. Surgeries serving thousands of patients across the region.
“F4 IT (wholly owned subsidiary of Care Plus Group) have worked with AdEPT for over 15 years and, with their help, we have implemented a fully converged voice and data network, with resilience, security and flexibility at the core of the design.
This enabled F4 IT to immediately respond to the demands caused by the Covid 19 outbreak, mobilising over 75% of our health care clients inside 24 hours with full data and voice access.
The AdEPT team responded instantly to the many challenges we set, caused by the Covid-19 situation. Working with AdEPT, F4 IT and its clients were able to seamlessly transition to their emergency response operation – allowing critical front-line services to operate with a full complement of voice and data facilities.
Kind regards, Darren McKay – Director of F4 IT”
Hospitals present a further challenge
As soon as the scale of the pandemic became apparent the data flowing across hospital networks increased substantially. This data is crucial to the effective operation of a hospital as well as the battle to defeat this virus.
NHS calls have been prioritised, whilst critical resources within AdEPT partners Openreach (a Division of BT) and Virgin Media Business are focussed on the most critical project activities.
During this time AdEPT, working with partner Convergence Group, have completed a number of network upgrades Free Of Charge for Kent NHS locations. These locations were targeted as, firstly, network monitoring revealed that they had high bandwidth utilisation, running close to the maximum capacity – and, secondly, there was an available option to upgrade the bandwidth to support the Health Trust.
This pro-active upgrade initiative has already benefited four sites in Kent – providing additional bandwidth to the sites to ensure their computer networks are not struggling under the additional strain.
AdEPT has also been working with partner, AIMES, easing pressure and providing network capability to various health locations across the UK in response to the pandemic.
NHS Digital have been playing their part. Co-ordinating expertise from all HSCN suppliers – chairing a weekly working group session to review issues and identify solutions. This involves a vast cross section of individuals across all size of supplier assisting NHS Digital – all with the aim of addressing the massively increased demand on services and the Health & Social Care Network.
[NHS Digital are the national information and technology partner to the health and social care system. They are using digital technology to transform the NHS and social care, with a mission to harness the power of information and technology to improve health and care.]
AdEPT is also fast tracking the deployment of new high-speed links to carry over 20GB of data into the local hospitals of Tunbridge Wells and Maidstone. A deployment that again is being undertaken at a reduced cost in partnership with AdEPT partner Convergence Group.
Both of these hospitals operate A&E departments and are hosting Covid-19 pods to deal with the pandemic. This tenfold increase in connectivity will greatly boost the capacity of their networks.
Finally, within the social Care arena
The Care Home sector has really hit the headlines in recent days, as they are a yvulnerable sector within the Covid-19 pandemic. With over 400,000 elderly residents living in nursing and care home settings, this is a significantly important sector of the UK economy.
AdEPT supports more than 20 care home providers and none more so than Rusthall Lodge Care Home, close to AdEPT’s Head Office in Tunbridge Wells. AdEPT were only recently been selected as the Care Home’s IT, Voice and Data partner.
Given the vulnerability of Residents to Covid-19, the Home’s Senior Management Team (SMT) needed to create an on-site/off-site staffing system that supported the 24×7 care obligations and nursing of residents, whilst minimising the risk and exposure of both staff and Residents to the Covid-19 virus.
In response AdEPT delivered a new secure firewall and remote working service to support and aide the Home’s business continuity plan. A small example of the sort of challenges AdEPT have been delivering across the health & care arena.
All in all, a positive story arising from times of massive challenge.
This announcement has been released by Ben Rogers, Head of Marketing, on behalf of the Company.
About AdEPT Technology Group plc:
AdEPT Technology Group plc is one of the UK’s leading independent providers of managed services for IT, unified communications, connectivity and voice solutions. AdEPT’s tailored services are used by thousands of customers across the UK and are brought together through the strategic relationships with tier-1 suppliers such as Openreach, BT Wholesale, Virgin Media, Avaya, Microsoft, Dell and Apple.
AdEPT is quoted on AIM, operated by the London Stock Exchange (Ticker: ADT). For further information please visit: www.adept.co.uk
About Convergence Group:
Working with channel partners Convergence Group supply fully managed Local Area Networks (LAN), fully managed Wide Area Networks (WAN) and private internet solutions, that enable businesses to stay connected, whether its transporting voice or data or accessing cloud applications, Convergence Group provides secure and reliable connectivity powering businesses to get on with what’s important to them.
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