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Norfolk software tool could be used in fight against coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 12:01 16 March 2020 | UPDATED: 16:36 16 March 2020

Michael Wong, chief operating officer at North Walsham-based Engage Health Systems. Picture: Engage Health

Michael Wong, chief operating officer at North Walsham-based Engage Health Systems. Picture: Engage Health

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A online tool developed by a Norfolk tech firm could soon be used in the fight against coronavirus.

North Walsham-based Engage Health Systems, has developed an application called Engage Consult, which allows patients and carers to connect with their GP practice and access services online from a PC, tablet or smartphone. Picture: Engage HealthNorth Walsham-based Engage Health Systems, has developed an application called Engage Consult, which allows patients and carers to connect with their GP practice and access services online from a PC, tablet or smartphone. Picture: Engage Health

North Walsham-based Engage Health Systems is has released an internet-based consultation system called Engage Consult, which is already being used across 300 practices across the country.

Michael Wong, the firm’s chief operating officer, said: “We have a database of approximately 80,000 questions covering over 6,000 clinical conditions.

“With regards to Covid-19, there’s still pressure being put on the system, and people are still getting ill with a bad back, diabetes, arthritis and so on.

“This provides an opportunity to give information to your practice.

Michael Wong, chief operating officer at North Walsham-based Engage Health Systems. Picture: Engage HealthMichael Wong, chief operating officer at North Walsham-based Engage Health Systems. Picture: Engage Health

“It’s also an opportunity to bring in patients quicker should that be necessary or it may mean they can be told they don’t have to come in at all.”

Mr Wong, 44, said funding for the tool was announced in 2018, so it could potentially be used at each of the 7,500+ surgeries in England.

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Mr Wong said that while computer-based diagnosis tools were not new - “Asking the right questions in the right fashion might be new.”

He said the system, which will shortly include a video consultation tool, could ease the strain on GPs’ surgeries at a time when they were coming under unprecedented pressure because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Wong said the system could also be used to identify underlying issues such as mental health, which may be affecting a patient’s physical health. It can also field simple administration questions, which would free up medical professionals’ time.

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Mr Wong said: “For example, if I wanted to take my daughter scuba diving and I’m not sure if I need a doctor’s note, I might normally call my practice, speak to a receptionist, who may need to check with a doctor and so on.”

With Engage Consult, such queries could easily be answered with just few clicks. Patients can also use the tool to things like book appointments and order repeat prescriptions.

Engage Health Systems employs about 35 people, most of whom are based at its headquarters in St Nicholas Court in North Walsham.

The firm started off as Wiggly-Amps, which was bought by Boots in 2018. It developed tools including the panic alarm software Little Green Button.

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