The iPhone X was chosen for the ICU as it is waterproof for cleaning, has a loud speaker and sensitive microphone. Once the requestor connects with the responder, the app provides a link to switch from the message board to FaceTime or a phone call if required. The app could be rolled out to all NHS hospitals nationwide.
Sarah Wilkinson, NHS Digital's CEO, says that the organisation has had to scale up its NHS 111 service, as it was receiving almost 100 time as much use as before the pandemic.
In addition, NHS Digital has worked with a team at Cambridge University that has built machine learning models to predict the upcoming demand for ICU beds and for ventilators.
This is being extended to estimate how long patients will stay in hospital and eventually, Ms Wilkinson hopes, it could help to simulate the best environments and treatment decisions for patients. These models have been deployed across many NHS trusts already.
The pandemic has also accelerated a number of projects which had been on many NHS trusts' agendas for a very long time.
"The clamour for virtual smart cards instead of physical cards increased as we moved into PPE environments, where putting in the physical card was very difficult," Ms Wilkinson said, explaining that the NHS has rolled out virtual cards as a result.