NHS Covid Pass looks to ‘next phase’ and improvement of user experience

Cognizant awarded £1m-plus deal to boost development resources

Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire/PA Images

The government wants to take the digital NHS Covid Pass to “the next phase” with development work intended to improve user experience.

The pass, which allows citizens to demonstrate their vaccine status, can be used to enable foreign travel. Some venues or large events may also require visitors to prove they have been fully vaccinated. This is set to become a legal requirement for certain settings, such as nightclubs, by the end of next month.

In recently published procurement documents, the government said that: “The UK has an opportunity to lead the world in utilising the Covid-19 vaccine to start to get our economy moving again. International travel had been and must again be a significant part of the UK economy.”

The NHS Covid Pass is primarily delivered via the NHS app, through which users can obtain a secure QR code that proves they have been fully vaccinated. This code can also be printed out or, for those without access to digital devices or connectivity, a letter of confirmation can be requested.

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In a contract award notice for a £1.15m deal signed with IT services giant Cognizant, the Department of Health and Social Care said that, as the need to demonstrate vaccine status grows and usage ot the technology increases, it wishes to improve the experience for app users.

“Much work on the Covid Certification programme has been delivered,” it said. “As the programme moves into the next phase of the development, the requirements will be primarily focused on the end user experience.”

Over the course of a six-month contract that began on 13 August, Cognizant will provide expert personnel to support research and software engineering work.

“The supplier resource will need to define and co-ordinate the user research [and] insight approach that informs product iteration for the programme,” the DHSC said. “The supplier will be providing expert advice and leadership in [these] areas…: service design; [and] product owners.”

The introduction of the Covid Pass to the NHS app – which had very limited uptake during its first year of availability – has prompted millions of citizens to download the program, which also allows users to book GP appointments, order repeat prescriptions, and set their organ-donation preferences.

Headquartered in the US, but with more than half of its near-300,000-strong global workforce based in India, Cognizant is one of the world’s biggest technology outsourcers. In 2020 the firm posted net profit of almost $1.4bn on revenues that dropped slightly year on year to $16.7bn (£12.15bn).

Its UK headquarters are in Paddington in west London, where it also has a base in Ealing. The firm also operates from locations in Glasgow and Aberdeen.


Sam Trendall

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