News in brief: NHS Digital Academy applications, ORCHA makes long COVID call

Health tech has been hitting the headlines again this week as 32 trusts joined the NHS Digital Aspirant programme, six more SMES won funding through the MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grant Scheme, and The Royal College of Midwives called for a Digital Midwife in every maternity service.

Here are some of the other great news stories that grabbed our attention…

NHS Digital Academy to open for applications

The NHS Digital Academy’s Digital Health Leadership Programme will open to applications for ‘Cohort 4’ on 1 April 2021. The application window will stay open for almost the whole month, before closing on 30 April.

The latest cohort will be delivered by Imperial College London plus partners the University of Edinburgh and HDR UK. Selected delegates will start in September 2021.

Health Information Exchange continues to expand

The Health Information Exchange (HIE) has achieved over 1 million views since November 2020, with shared care records being viewed over 7,000 times a day, on average.

Sunderland City Council will join in March to become the ‘first fully connected local authority partner’ in the region – enabling hospital, GP, community, mental health, out of hours and adult social care services to view and share medical information.

Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust also joined the HIE in February, becoming the fifth trust to begin sharing data. While North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is due to start sharing records later this month, too.

North Tees and Hartlepool ramp up projects

As well as working with HIE, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has been busy with a number of other digital projects. The trust is about to go live with TrakCare Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration for its theatres team, as well as mapping paper documentation flows across paediatrics, as they ‘prepare to shift to electronic scanned records’.

The trust has also introduced a new workflow for local GPs to book phlebotomy tests. It’s hoped this will help with social distancing and reduce the number of patients in waiting areas.

South Tees Hospital signs five-year deal with Synopsis

South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, meanwhile, has announced a five-year deal with Synopsis to digitise its paper-based pre-operative process.

The trust is expected to launch Synopsis Home and Synopsis iQ to help staff manage the elective surgery pathway – including pre-operative health questionnaires and post-operative outcomes – from a central digital dashboard.

This will also enable patients to complete the digital health questionnaire at home and integrate the trust’s patient administration, EPR and theatre scheduling systems.

Siemens Healthineers create solutions for digital breast care

Siemens Healthineers has expanded its digital breast care offerings with new software solutions to ‘speed up’ the entire reading workflow for breast imaging and optimise workflows.

Mammovista will ‘support maximum reading performance across multiple imaging modalities’ for mammography images, using AI-supported workflows to highlight and score abnormalities in tissue. It can also reduce image loading times.

The second innovation, the Teamplay Mammo Dashboard, is a tool for dashboard-based ‘visualisation of key performance indicators (KPIs) in the breast imaging process’  to help optimise workflows. The KPIs tracked include radiation dose and device utilization, to help make the mammography examination process ‘transparent’ and identify possible ‘bottlenecks’. 

Lilli raises £4.5 million for scale up in home care

Lilli, a UK health tech company using machine learning in home care, has raised £4.5 million in a pre-Series A funding round.

Having recently switched from hardware to software and undergone a rebrand, Lilli has been focusing on tech for independent living.

Its solution uses machine learning to analyse data sources, including temperature, motion, and power usage, and provide real-time data for care-givers. It’s hoped this will aid remote monitoring to reduce hospital admissions.

Following trials with Brent Council, Lilli’s will undertake a 100-person trial with Dorset County Council. There are also discussions for further implementation underway with 17 other local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups.

ORCHA calls on developers to create long COVID apps 

A new report from ORCHA (the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps) has highlighted 10 apps to help patients manage a range of long COVID symptoms, including chronic fatigue, heart palpitations, depression and concentration difficulties.

The app list features Fibricheck, for logging heart palpitations; Lumosity, for those suffering from ‘brain fog’; Wysa to combat depression; and Sleepio, to manage insomnia.

However, the apps must be used cumulatively as there are currently none designed specifically for long COVID.

Following a report form the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, which says patients and GPs lack a clear information pathway through dedicated websites and apps, ORCHA has highlighted both the need and the opportunity for development.

Liz Ashall-Payne, founding CEO of ORCHA, said: “There’s a sizeable opportunity for developers to work with patient groups and clinicians to meet this very particular need. And, for healthcare providers, specialised apps of this nature, designed to encourage self-management of very diverse symptoms, could offer a significant return on investment.”

Visit the ORCHA website for the full report on self-management of Long COVID symptoms.

Oxford Brookes University part of ‘world’s largest study’ into child cancer treatment

A project – called FORTEe – is set to be the ‘world’s largest study’ into the effects of exercise on the successful treatment of children with cancer.

Scientists from Oxford Brookes University are taking a leading role in the five-and-a-half year project, which has received €6.2 million (£5.4 million) funding from the EU Horizon programme and involves 16 European partners.

FORTEe will research the experiences of at least 450 children, aged between four and 21 years old, and aims to ‘generate evidence for an innovative patient-centred exercise treatment’, as well as to promote personalised exercise in oncology settings.

Oxford Brookes will lead on the ‘technology aspects’ of the project, by developing an app for smartphones. AI will be used to select rehabilitation exercises, depending on the age and individual needs of the patient, as well as considering possible side effects of treatments and physical limitations.

Researchers are also introducing the use of a technology which analyses digital movement, called Pixformance. Patients could use this to self-correct their exercises ahead of leaving hospital, with the hope it will help with rehabilitation adherence in both home and hospital settings.

Community care provider sees improved online patient mental health outcomes

Psychiatric counsellors seeing patients online during the COVID-19 pandemic have seen missed appointments drop by two thirds, compared to face-to-face sessions before the pandemic, according to community care provider Livewell Southwest.

The company found that ‘did not attend’ rates for IAPT appointments dropped from 15% to 5% last year. While, recovery rates of people using the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service via video consultation with the provider also rose to an ‘all-time high’ of 54%.

If you have any health tech news to share with us, email