NHSX launches self-isolation tech challenge

Written by Peter Walker
24/03/20

NHSX has launched a programme for the rapid development of digital tools to support people self-isolating during the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Techforce 19 initiative, in collaboration with GovTech venture capital firm Public, is making up to £25,000 per company available for a test phase of solutions that could be available within a few weeks.

Four streams have been identified: providing remote social care; optimising the work of the volunteer sector; improving mental health support; and any other solutions to ease pressures on people and services.

Initially, companies and charities with proposals will be asked to complete an expression of interest document and take part in an interview. Those selected will receive funds to support testing. NHSX and its partners will then consider the best route for further development.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “If people cannot leave the house, we need to quickly find ways to bring support to them and today I am calling on the strength of our innovative technology sector to take on this challenge.

“Techforce19 will mobilise the UK’s incredible reservoir of talent to develop simple, accessible tools that can be rolled out quickly and help tackle the effect of social isolation.”

Matthew Gould, chief executive of NHSX, added: “This competition is focused on the problems created by isolation, which lend themselves to digital solutions.

“It will allow NHSX to accelerate the development of those solutions, so within weeks they can help those in isolation suffering from loneliness, mental health issues and other problems.”

The programme team emphasised that the competition is not aimed at providing solutions that are trying to solve clinical problems or require integration with NHS systems.