As part of our five-point plan to help counter the impact of COVID-19, Vodafone continues to offer vital support for healthcare services, helping them to cope with the surge in demand and assisting people as they seek healthcare information. We have prioritised emergency calls and, where appropriate, have offered free access to government health services. In recent weeks, Vodafone has actively supported or announced initiatives for our health services in all of our markets.
Joakim Reiter, Vodafone Group External Affairs Director said: "Across the world, health services and many thousands of dedicated health professionals are working tirelessly to tackle Coronavirus. We have gladly offered our support – be that helping to set up communications rapidly for temporary hospitals, using our technology to help with diagnosis and keeping both health workers and patients connected to their loved ones when they need it most.
Vodafone will continue to assist our health services and healthcare professionals during the COVID-19 epidemic and we remain grateful for the important work they are carrying out under difficult circumstances."
Providing vital connectivity and services for health services
Vodafone is already delivering additional network capacity and services for hospitals and ambulance services across Europe, including rapidly connecting new or temporary healthcare facilities and increasing capacity for emergency services hotlines.
In Italy, for example, Vodafone has provisioned vital connectivity for new hospitals in Cuasso, Varese and the new Fiera Milano hospital in Milan. Vodafone UK has provided emergency coverage for temporary new hospitals including the 4,000 bed Nightingale Hospital at London’s Excel Centre and similar facilities in Manchester, Cardiff and Glasgow. Vodafone Romania has installed new mobile sites for temporary military hospitals built from scratch in Bucharest and Constanta.
Vodafone Portugal has donated surveillance cameras to enable doctors and nurses to monitor patients in 122 hospital rooms. In Greece, Vodafone is working to donate equipment and hands-free accessories to healthcare personnel in Coronavirus clinics across the country’s key hospitals. Vodafone Turkey has purchased and donated 10 ventilators to a public hospital, and provided public healthcare workers with 150 tablets with 30GB of free data. Vodafone Hungary has offered an additional 100 extra voice minutes.
Helping patients keep in touch when they need it most
To guarantee connectivity for patients themselves, Vodafone Spain is also providing 30,000 SIMs with 60GB of data to hospitals and care centres for the elderly – ensuring that people who are affected by Coronavirus in nursing homes, residences or small hospitals can stay connected with their families. In Italy, Vodafone has donated more than 1,200 smartphones and tablets to hospitals, foundations and non-profits to enable patients to remain in touch with relatives.
In Spain, Vodafone stepped in to provide services and equipment for the temporary COVID-19 hospital in the IFEMA region of Madrid. Many patients arrived with nothing other than their phones, so Vodafone arranged to supply power-banks and chargers, and equipped health staff with smartphones, tablets and video conferencing equipment. Vodafone Spain also enabled the Vodafone Smart Messaging text service, giving health professionals the ability to co-ordinate and exchange information via short messages.
Using communications to remotely diagnose Coronavirus
Telemedicine is proving invaluable in helping to manage Coronavirus, with many countries now using remote mobile technologies as their primary healthcare support for doctors to remotely screen for the disease without coming into direct contact with patients.
Vodafone Germany and Corevas have repurposed and offered for free their EmergencyEye technology which was previously used to provide detailed virtual health assessments via smartphone – removing the need for patients to leave the house and lowering the risk of infections as a result. By allowing doctors to assess Coronavirus symptoms remotely, EmergencyEye can prevent crowded waiting rooms and ensures medical staff can focus on patients most in need of urgent care. Vodafone Germany is ensuring that the video chat technology always operates swiftly in an emergency
Vodafone’s African business, Vodacom, has partnered with medical aid provider Discover Health to offer all South Africans easy access to dedicated online COVID-19 screenings and consultations. Through Discovery’s existing DrConnect platform, the partnership helps identify people who need healthcare or a potential referral for Coronavirus testing – backed by a joint fund to pay doctors for around 100,000 consultations.
In Kenya, Safaricom Foundation’s Safari Smart mobile service is helping to disseminate information on infectious diseases, including COVID-19 – providing more than 275,000 users with information on the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Vodafone’s Foundations in the Czech Republic and Hungary are working with their respective health ministries to provide official COVID-19 information in real-time through additional features on their Life-Saving app. The app has already reached 1.3 million users Czech users and more than 500,000 users in Hungary to date.
Keeping healthcare workers connected
In many countries, Vodafone is helping busy health professionals keep in touch with their loved ones without worrying about running out of data or being charged extra for it.
In the UK, Vodafone has announced that 125,000 NHS workers who are existing customers will benefit from 30 days free unlimited mobile data.
Vodafone Turkey has played a key part in an industry-wide campaign offering healthcare workers an extra 5GB of data and 500 minutes free voice calling. In Hungary, Vodafone is offering an additional 100 voice minutes to 25,000 healthcare customers. Vodafone Albania has launched a #RedForWhite initiative, showing gratitude to more than 1,600 frontline medical staff by offering free communication bundles of pre- and post-paid tariffs.
And finally, Vodafone Hungary launched a public "Infinite Gratitude” campaign, showing their appreciation and support for health workers.
To learn more about how we're helping families, communities and businesses to stay connected, visit www.vodafone.com/covid19