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15 October 2021

Virtual support for Indian frontline staff battling COVID-19

A pioneering project has been offering expert advice and support to doctors and nurses fighting COVID-19 in India.


The Life Lines project, launched in April 2020 at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospitals with the support of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre and King’s College London, was originally created in the UK to allow relatives to see and speak to their loved ones via a tablet using the secure online platform, ‘aTouchAway’.

As India’s COVID-19 crisis hit, the team behind the original project rapidly developed plans to use the same technology to connect with India’s clinicians on the frontline so that they could access expert guidance, training and support.

The original Life Lines project based in London was created at the height of the first wave of the UK’s pandemic, rapidly developed from an idea to a UK-wide initiative in just four weeks. In its first year, Life Lines enabled more than 100,000 virtual visits supported across 180 UK hospitals and gained nationwide support and recognition.

India has been hard hit by COVID-19, with more than 34 million recorded cases and 452,000 deaths since the start of the current pandemic. At the height of the most recent wave as the number of critically ill patients rose, intensive care capacity had more than quadrupled. Through necessity many patients are receiving care from non-ICU trained health staff, which is placing considerable strain on them as well as risk to patients.

Public and private donations, including from The London Clinic and BT India, have supported the setup of Indian servers for the platform, supported digital licenses, and provided 50 4G enabled tablets to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) hospital in Rishikesh, India. This has ensured digitally secure sharing of personal health information between international ICU trained volunteers and clinical staff working on the ground in India.

Life Lines has been an incredible success in the UK. It has removed barriers and brought families and loved ones together at the most difficult of times, when lives hang in the balance.

Professor Prokar Dasgupta, Professor of Surgery at King’s Health Partners

He continued:

We are in the extremely privileged position that our NHS staff have access to the latest insights and research that can make all the difference to the survival of patients who have COVID-19. We strongly believe we have a duty to share our expertise, insight and goodwill from south London to south Asia.

Through support and donations we have reached across borders to virtually connect clinicians from around the world to Indian hospitals so they will never be alone in the fight against COVID-19.

The recovery and wellbeing of our COVID-19 patients is our utmost priority at AIIMS and all of our doctors, nurses and healthcare staff are working tirelessly to offer this. We are committed to supporting our staff to provide the best care they can under the circumstances, so this offer of international expertise and support is hugely welcome. Accessing the latest thinking and evidence in solutions, treatments and recovery will mean all the difference to our busy staff and we look forward to working more closely with our King’s Health Partners colleagues in London.

Professor Ravi Kant, Director of the AIIMS hospital, Rishikesh

About Life Lines

Life Lines was established in March 2020 as an ultra-rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, bringing together a unique partnership of clinicians, academics, companies and charities. The original Life Lines mission was to support virtual visiting for ICU families across the UK. In one year, Life Lines has enabled more than 100,000 virtual visits supported across 180 UK hospitals.

Life Lines was set up by a team comprising of Professor Louise Rose, a Professor of Critical Care Nursing at the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing, Midwifery and Palliative Care, King's College London, Dr Joel Meyer, a critical care consultant at Guy’s and St Thomas’, and Michel Paquet, who developed aTouchAway™ and is the CEO of Aetonix. Find out more here.

Partners in the Life Lines project in the UK include: Google, British Telecom (BT), King’s College London, King’s Health Partners, the True Colours Trust, the Gatsby Charitable Foundation, Bray Leino.

Find out more about Life Lines.

In this story

Louise Rose

Head of Division, Applied Technologies for Clinical Care and Professor of Critical Care Nursing