NHS COVID Pass creator looking to grab share of UK public sector

Danish tech firm Netcompany wants to help UK transform public services, focusing on healthcare

Posted 1 June 2022 by Christine Horton

Netcompany – the firm behind the NHS COVID Pass – is looking to ramp up operations in the UK.

Established in its native Denmark, Netcompany says it wants to help other countries across Europe transform their public services.

“We have helped Denmark move from a good digital country to a number one digital country,” explained Prahlad Koti, senior partner, Netcompany. “Citizens can conduct pretty much every aspect of their interaction with the state on digital – whether it is education, paying taxes, getting grants for agriculture, or being paid benefits. Across all kind of public services, Netcompany has been involved in helping Denmark as a country transform, and we want to bring that set of values and ways of working into other parts of Europe.”

Koti says its focus in now on investing in the UK, “building our capability, using the [Danish] template but adapting it to the UK public services.”

Along with the COVID Pass and the Scottish COVID Pass, Netcompany works across the UK public sector. However, Koti maintained that currently, the company’s focus is on healthcare.

Strong demand from the UK

The question is, can Netcompany recreate its success in digital-forward countries such as Denmark? For example, the country has a strong digital identity offering for every citizen which makes stitching up services easier.

Koti says that demand within UK public sector is strong. “All public sector organisations are witnessing that they need to invest in digital. Most of them see that it can improve services as well as reduce cost,” he said.

There are three big pillars to the way Netcompany works. The first is a process called, ‘agile with control.’ “We feel our customers still have to work in a non-agile world word where they have to get yearly allocation of budget, get sign offs, etc. We’re trying to build in such a way that we are actually bridging that,” said Koti.

Second thing is investment in the local market. This includes hiring locally, particularly at a graduate level.

The third pillar is reusing components to accelerate the process. “We’ve built, over the years, 2000 components coming from 150 projects,” said Koti. “We’ve been able to use those accelerators to compress the time in which a solution can be implemented. The Scottish COVID Pass was a great example where within six weeks we were able to build a whole solution. We took the app that we developed in Denmark at a source code level and changed that to suit Scotland. We obviously just made sure that the identity, the integrations are all different.”

Keeping people on the NHS app

Pre-Covid, there were 3-4 million people using the NHS app – now there are close to 30 million. That has meant creating 30 million logins with several levels of accreditation, P5 to P9. “Now 25 million people have gone up the minimum of P5, which is quite a high level of identity verification,” said Koti.

Now Netcompany is working on encouraging users to keep using the NHS app for healthcare services as we emerge from pandemic restrictions.

“If we don’t give them the right set of tools, then people will stop using it and eventually they will delete it from their phones,” said Koti. “Then they’ll go back to picking up the phone to the surgery. If we don’t make those things available, then people will go back to non-digital ways of working. So it’s a big opportunity as a country. But these things tend to have a half-life, so at some point in three months, more people fall off. So we need to be quite quick, adding more things that people need to transact their usual business rather than something like COVID Pass.”

Koti also acknowledged that while there is demand, digital is not always the answer. “Public sector service organisations need to be careful how they invest,” he said.

He also pointed out that a substantial minority of the population is not comfortable using digital tools. “We should always make sure that we have a non-digital group and then try and link back into the digital group somehow. Also we need to also realise that huge numbers of people have started using digital during the pandemic because they did not have any other choice. It’s almost we have gained an advantage and we must not let go.”