In March of 2020, Poland found itself in the grip of a global pandemic. With the borders shut, Covid infections rising and crucial supplies dwindling, members of the public were stepping up to try and help hospitals on the front line. Local support groups popped up here and there, but they were overwhelmed by the task of coordinating their donations. Jakub Tabedzki, of Clorce (a Salesforce Partner), and Jakub Jasiczak, of Poznan University of Economics, decided it was time to transform grassroots assistance efforts into a cohesive and efficient network of hospital support.
But with the virus spreading and hospitals struggling, they were in a race against time. They pressed pause on their other activities and started Wsparcie dla Szpitala (Hospital Help), using the Salesforce platform to power the site. Intuitive, quick to set up, scalable and versatile, Salesforce would prove to be the perfect building block for the initiative.
Hrvoje Supic (Salesforce Regional Vice President, Central and Eastern Europe) interviewed Jakub Tabedzki and Jakub Jasiczak to better understand their approach:
Jakub Jasiczak: In mid-March I thought, “We’re stuck at home, there must be some way we can be useful.” Around 60 of my colleagues – scientists from various universities in Poland – felt the same way, so we started the Virtual Crisis Institute to offer our help to fight Covid-19. One of our ideas was around managing donations of supplies. We saw people calling hospitals, driving there with bottles of water, volunteers trying to track everything manually using spreadsheets… it was chaos. That day, I saw a Facebook post from Jakub offering Clorce’s expertise to build a new platform, and Wsparciedlaszpitala.pl was born.
Jakub Tabedzki: In five days the developers at Clorce built a service, based on Salesforce.org’s package for NGOs, that allowed hospitals to create lists of what they needed. We started with five volunteers, who we trained in Salesforce on the fly – teaching them how to create leads, convert and manage leads – and they onboarded 100 hospitals over the phone.
JT: We had 13 people – the whole company – working for 16 hours a day, 5 days straight. We stopped all our commercial work, and focused on this project. We contacted Salesforce the day they sent out a press release offering to help in the fight against Covid-19, and the Salesforce Care initiative allowed us to use Community Cloud and Service Cloud licences for donors, coordinators and hospitals.
JT: As new use cases came up, we’ve added elements to the organisation and the digital platform. Five volunteers wasn’t enough, so we scaled up to 30. By day 10, we had created a new type of account for local coordinators, so they could go through hospitals’ lists and mark what people could provide. When donations are delivered, the lists update in real-time.
At the 15-day mark, we got famous. We had a 2-minute slot on a headline TV news show about Covid-19, and the site got thousands of hits. This was the day we added a new account type so ordinary people could join, find a hospital and see what was needed, then tell local coordinators what they could provide – no phone calls or Facebook messages needed.
JJ: The local coordinators are crucial to the process – they provide the link between the public and the hospitals. They build connections with companies and the media, too.
JT: Companies were keen to help, so after 20 days, we iterated on the platform one more time and added a company account type that allowed them to view lists of needs that were geared towards what they produced. Now, a soap manufacturer can see exactly which hospitals are in need of soap products.
JT: We used Tableau to build the main dashboard that you see on the site, which shows you the needs of each hospital at a glance. You can filter by need, and search by location. Tableau employees have been amazing at sharing their expertise with us – one of their engineers even worked with us directly. As well as this main dashboard, we also built non-public-facing dashboards to track hospitals that don’t have local coordinators, and to handle media enquiries.
We’re not only visualising and sharing data, we’re learning from it, too. We knew that hospitals would need things like masks, but when you get diagnosed with Covid-19, you go into isolation and can’t take anything with you. How are you going to wash or brush your teeth? So hospitals also need things like toothbrushes.
JJ: We found that there was a mismatch between what hospitals need and what ordinary people can provide – to get masks and gowns, we realised we had to connect local coordinators to companies. We’re now buying supplies directly from Poland’s biggest pharmaceutical wholesaler.
JT: We heard from one hospital that they were using baby monitors so that doctors could communicate with patients without going into their rooms. So we sent an email to 200 hospitals saying, “Hey, if you’re running low on PPE, why not try using baby monitors?” This is an example of how we’re not just distributing donations, we’re sharing knowledge too.
JT: We have 30 volunteers and 195 local coordinators, and we work with two-thirds of Poland’s hospitals. Our goal is to reach 800 hospitals.
JJ: Once we got on top of providing support to hospitals, we realised that residential care homes were very vulnerable, so we’re now working with around 50 homes. We’re also aware that while hospitals in big cities are well supported, smaller local hospitals need more help, so we’re putting local coordinators in place for them.
And, of course, we’re always working on funding – we created the platform pro bono, but we need the help of business to keep it going.
JT: We’ve built not only a digital platform but a huge organisation that became trusted by multiple stakeholders in just a few weeks. It’s really pretty amazing.
To help companies of any size navigate this time, we're offering our Salesforce Care solutions for employee and customer support.