Tuesday, 14 April 2020 12:56

COVID 19: Microsoft, Velrada roll out ‘self isolator’ platform for Red Cross Featured


Australian Red Cross has rolled out a self-isolator outreach platform to provide psychological first aid support during the Covid-19 pandemic in less than a week using Microsoft technology.

Working with Microsoft partner Velrada and using Dynamics 365 and Power BI, Australian Red Cross has implemented a system that allows 15,000 of its specifically trained volunteers to call people who are in home isolation and check on their wellbeing via phone, each day.

The solution also allows Red Cross to identify where it might be necessary to refer people for additional support to help with issues such as mental health care and access to food.

Each day Red Cross receives from the Governments it is working with, a list of people who are now in self-isolation, and it assigns trained volunteers to engage with people on the list.

The Queensland State Government was the first to engage with Red Cross and Microsoft says that, initially, volunteers were juggling 50 spreadsheets at a time to be able to contact the person who was self-isolating, ask them questions and collect their responses.

“It was a slow, cumbersome and potentially error-prone approach that has now been replaced with a purpose-built streamlined solution,” Microsoft says.

Microsoft says that while Red Cross has had a client case management system in place for many years that has allowed it to connect to vulnerable people, what it was lacking was a system that could connect a particular volunteer to a particular task – "whether that was making a call, driving someone to a medical appointment or taking them on a social outing".

Australian Red Cross signed the agreement early this year with Velrada to develop a case management system using Dynamics 365 for Field Services, with the platform integrated with Red Cross’s telephony system so that users have to navigate only one interface.

Holly Brown, Red Cross national lead for systems and process improvement, says that although each State and Territory has different requirements in terms of the questions asked and data collected during the daily call – one of the most critical outcomes is that in each case a social connection is forged and some of the psychological barriers of isolation are broken.

According to Brown, “Velrada have been absolutely amazing and turned this around for us in six days so we can be up and running with live calls”.

Dominic Nolan executive director and general manager solutions at Velrada said: “The team is all emotionally bought in to what we’re trying to do here. It’s not just delivering a software solution, they understand the social need here.”

Microsoft says the system’s technical foundations come from Dynamics 365 field service while Power BI will be used to track call volumes and responses and display those on dashboards - with Velrada using Forms Pro to create and configure the question and answer screens that volunteers use to collect responses.

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