Rapid Response to COVID 19 Crisis: Decision Support Mobile App for St John’s Hospital

16 April 2020

The Demand

At 2.30 in the morning on Sunday 22nd March, a Consultant Anaesthetist in St John’s Hospital in NHS Lothian sent an urgent email to DHI’s Right Decision Service. He stated a major concern about problems in sharing and accessing local and national COVID 19 guidance and protocols –

 “There is no structure and people are trying to access these resources through Whatsapp threads. They can’t find the information they need, and they are wasting valuable time searching.”

He had looked at examples of mobile apps delivered by the Right Decision Service –  DHI’s national platform for decision support, and  saw that a mobile app providing a single Go-To Place for COVID-19 guidance for St John’s would make “a massive impact to their ability to respond in this challenging time.”

He asked the Right Decision Service team if they could get an app for St John’s Hospital up and running in a very short timeframe.

The Response

DHI’s Programme Manager for Knowledge and Decision Support, and Tactuum, the software company DHI has commissioned to support the national decision support programme, responded immediately. By Wednesday 25th March, the COVID-19 website and Android app for St John’s Hospital were live, and the Apple version of the app followed by the end of the week. 

This achievement was made possible by using the mobile app and web builder toolkit provided by the Right Decision Service.  The dedicated technical and knowledge management team supporting the Right Decision Service worked hand in hand with NHS Lothian clinicians to collate content, apply a knowledge structure, carry out the content editing and proof reading.  They provided a simple online training session to equip a senior NHS Lothian clinician to update content using the RDS builder toolkit.

What was delivered

The resulting decision support solution is available as a web resource  and downloadable app at https://clinicaltoolkit.scot.nhs.uk/

It includes:

  • Local acute guidance and standard operating procedures for COVID-19
  • Training resources
  • Daily updates
  • Resources to support staff wellbeing
  • National guidance
  • Staff rotas

A notification service alerts staff automatically to updates to local guidance.


The app has been enthusiastically welcomed by clinicians who see it as invaluable in providing guidance at point of care in frontline delivery:

“…this is amazing and just what we need!!! I think this could be one of the most important interventions made in this situation!!!”

The app is in constant use. In the 3 weeks since going live, just in one hospital site,  it has had 24,816 views and 1200 users – 712 using the downloadable app, 488 using the web resource. Usage is still rising steadily.

The most popular areas are the local guidance and daily updates, with the staff wellbeing resource also being well used. Staff feedback indicates that they particularly value the notification service.

The success of the St John’s Hospital development has paved the way for deploying the Right Decision Service to provide similar solutions to NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, NHS Lanarkshire, Healthcare Improvement Scotland, and other parts of NHS Lothian. 

Recent posts