A new clinical tool developed in Scotland has given frontline staff confidence to confront the new coronavirus in patients.

The tool has been piloted at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde at the Linwood Community Assessment Centre where nurses, advanced nurse practitioners and GPs have used it to help treat suspected COVID-19 patients.

The app has been rapidly developed from conception to pilot stage within a month. This was made possible through collaboration between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Education for Scotland, Daysix, a design agency, and the Digital Health and Care Institute – a collaboration between the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde.

Where previously staff would record patient information in free text, the app provides a structured format for NHS staff to assess patients in a standardised way. The app prompts clinicians to record specific symptoms, patient details and clinical decisions through a mobile or desktop app.

Not only does it help clinicians identify suspected COVID-19, it also ensure signs of other illnesses or diseases are picked up too.

Professor George Crooks OBE, Chief Executive Officer for the Digital Health & Care Institute, said: “This collaboration clearly demonstrates how digital solutions can be quickly developed and deployed in partnership to support frontline staff and deliver safe and effective services for patients.”

Stuart Sutton, Clinical Director of Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “This tool has given our staff greater confidence when dealing with this new disease through a structured approach when assessing people attending our assessment centres. Using the app ensures key symptoms and signs of COVID-19 are identified and highlighted to clinicians.”

The information collected is saved onto a patient’s medical file and is also shared with national partners to allow for further analysis to improve our understanding of the virus in the long term.

The next stage of the pilot will see the app expanded for use in all of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Community Assessment Centres and the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital’s Emergency Department.

It was designed using World Health Organization COVID-19 guidelines with input from Scottish clinicians.

William Edwards, Director of e-Health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “It’s never been more important to capitalise on the use of technology in the NHS. We’ve worked extremely hard to make sure our patients and staff have access to the latest technology and tools during these challenging times. I’m proud to see the developments that will help our frontline colleagues manage COVID-19.”

Stewart Irvine, Chief Executive of NHS Education for Scotland said: “The new Covid 19 Clinical Assessment tool is an example of a successful national collaboration to help frontline services deal with Covid-19. NHS Education for Scotland is extremely proud to have played a part in producing something with tangible benefits to health and care staff and we would like to thank our partners for coming together to make a real difference to people in Scotland. Until now, we haven’t had a standardised process for staff to clinically assess people with symptoms of Covid 19. This tool will undoubtedly make lives easier for frontline staff, thereby helping them to concentrate on what’s important – making sure patients in Scotland get the best care possible.”

David Lowe, Emergency Medicine Consultant and West of Scotland Innovation Hub clinical lead, said: “We developed this tool to support clinical staff looking after COVID-19 patients, both in the community and on daily ward rounds. It aims to improve patient safety, provide insight into COVID-19 and aid in clinical decision making.”