HealthSHIP (Health Students Helping on Pandemics): An Open-Source Volunteering Platform Written for Healthcare Students, by Healthcare Students


Ronald MacDonald
The Universities of St. Andrews & Dundee (ScotGEM)
Cassandra Baiano
The Universities of St. Andrews & Dundee (ScotGEM)


The outbreak of COVID-19 across the globe saw varied grass-roots efforts to attempt to organise and manage volunteers on the ground. Such efforts were managed largely through Facebook, Twitter, Google Forms and various other platforms. Each of these platforms had their own benefits and pitfalls, so HealthSHIP was quickly designed and deployed to offer a bespoke volunteer management system in the Dundee / St Andrews area. This report will coincide with the open-source release of the platform so that its success may be built upon by other teams across the world. The platform was written and run by 2x GEM students on the ScotGEM course (Universities of St Andrews / Dundee), who had previous experience in software engineering and IT project management.

This paper is a report that delves into some of the key strengths and weaknesses of the platform. Its intention is to allow other groups and organisations to quickly deploy a volunteer management platform should local or national requirements require it. The report is accompanied by the full source code for the platform so that it can be stood up by other groups for testing, development and deployment.

The paper demonstrates how the platform's engagement and utilisation may have been increased from the very beginning, by discussing some of the key "sticking points" in the initial deployment of the platform. It also includes reports from users (volunteers and service users) of the platform, illustrating how it was used throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Key messages

Service delivery and improvement: User engagement, IT infrastructure and delivery, Healthcare IT / Project management

December 30, 2020