Special Issue Article
Joshua Filer and Daniel Gheorg
Objective: To assess the uptake and use of the trial contact tracing app developed by NHSX by healthcare workers. Design: Cross-sectional study using survey questionnaire. Setting: Healthcare industry: St Mary’s Hospital, a small NHS district hospital on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom. Participants: NHS staff members employed by the Isle of Wight NHS Trust. Results: Of 3100 eligible staff members, 462 (~15%) responded to the survey. Of the respondents, 90% were aged between 31 and 65, and half had direct patient contact through their job role. Almost three quarters (73%) used social media apps on their smartphones. 421 out of 460 respondents had no trouble downloading and installing the NHSX COVID app on their smartphones. 20% of respondents were left confused by instructions to turn off Bluetooth when wearing PPE. Only 35 people either had to report symptoms or received an alert of contact with a suspected COVID case. Of these over 20%were not clear what to do in such a situation. Conclusions: The trial app has been embraced and adopted well. Many have experienced no problems with it. However, some healthcare workers have been unable to download or install the app due to compatibility issues and some have been left confused by having to turn off Bluetooth whilst wearing PPE. This raises questions as to the effectiveness of the app for its intended purpose in contact tracing efforts. Recommendations: We recommend that the wording of alerts and guidance provided by the app be made clearer and more accessible. We also recommend developments to the app to facilitate use by healthcare workers in a clinical setting. We also propose that ‘app instructors’ be made available in hospitals to ensure that patients and staff can access help and advice on use of the app.