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News & Views

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  • 20 May 2020
  • Rory Powrie

Collaboration Between the Private and Public Sector has been Long Overdue

One of the positives that’s emerges in the last few months has been seeing tech brands stepping up to offer their support in the fight against COVID-19 – especially when it comes to healthcare. The NHS is turning to some of the world’s biggest tech companies in order to tackle the pandemic and deliver efficient medical care in the face of enormous pressure.

Tech giants, such as Amazon and Microsoft, are working with the NHS and delivering software that provides health officials with a holistic view of medical resources and personnel. The NHS is using these companies to ensure accurate allocations of staffing and resources are delivered across the network of NHS trusts across the country.

Amazon and Microsoft have done this by helping the NHS create a centralised source of data and a series of dashboards that will guide its medical response and identify which practices are running out of medical supplies. The dashboard system will also help make decisions on how to redistribute ventilators, intensive care unit (ICU) beds and other critical equipment.

We’ve also seen the NHS engage with numerous other tech brands in the private sector to make its COVID-19 response as efficient as possible. Palantir Technologies and London-based artificial intelligence firm Faculty are both helping the NHS to build a centralised data platform and enhance its data analytics capabilities. It’s been reported that Palantir is charging the NHS just £1 for its work despite committing nearly 10% of its UK workforce to the project. The company is providing software that powers the front-end data platform and enables data to be integrated, cleaned, and harmonised to develop the single source of truth that will support decision-making.

This entire data platform project is being managed by NHSX, which is a new public healthcare unit created in April to ‘drive the digital transformation of care’. Crisis breeds innovation and given this new body has engaged with multiple different tech brands, it appears the NHS is trying to transform its digital capabilities by working with tech companies in the private sector.

When it comes to technology, collaboration between the private and public sector has been long overdue. Over the last few months we’ve seen an unprecedented level of collaboration unfold and a real national effort to stop the impact of the virus, whether that’s car manufacturers building ventilators, private hospitals aiding the NHS, or tech companies helping healthcare professional harness and analyse crucial patient data.

The current crisis has sparked a new era of co-operation between the private and public sector, which as we move forward, must become the norm. Tech companies must realise their roles in aiding public sector initiatives and work with governments to develop a digital future. By offering their services to the public sector, tech companies will not only contribute to a smarter society and help those most in need, but they will also see an increase in trust and integrity within their own brands.