News, News in Brief

News in brief: new laser tech for liver transplants, ORCHA collaborates on app library

During a week in which NHS England announced the roll-out of 30,000 iPads to support ambulance crews across the country, while Greater Manchester Combined Authority issued a new tender for its GM One Network, health tech has once again been prominent in the headlines.

At HTN we’ve also been busy publishing our first Digital Playbook, which collates and shares projects, solutions and case studies from industry suppliers across a range of areas – and is now available both online or in print.

But that doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten to round-up the best of the rest of the news stories that have grabbed our attention. From new laser technology to help with liver transplants, to developments in care records, apps and platforms, there’s plenty to keep tabs on…

ORCHA and North West London link up

ORCHA, the digital health evaluator, is working with the North West London (NWL) NHS CCG to highlight safe, reviewed tools for self-management.

The CCG announced on Twitter that it was collaborating with ORCHA on its online App Library, to help patients ‘unlock the power of digital health’. As well as offering a search function, the platform provides users with information on the most popular, highly-rated and newest apps, with a focus on easy direction through the finder to prioritise and locate COVID-19 support apps.

Visit the ORCHA and NWL health app platform to find out what’s available.

Laser tool could transform liver transplants

Handheld laser devices – which could help surgeons spot liver damage quickly – could ‘transform’ transplant procedures, according to researchers from the University of Edinburgh.

It’s hoped that the non-invasive technique could provide instant data on the health of donor livers to help identify which organs are suitable for transplant.

This could potentially allow for more effective and safer liver transplants, experts say. Traditionally, surgeons evaluate prospective livers using blood tests and organ inspections via sight and touch.

But scientists and surgeons from the University of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Transplant Centre and the University of Strathclyde were able to use the new technique, called Raman spectroscopy (RS), to examine tissue samples to help pinpoint the difference between healthy and damaged cells.

The team from Edinburgh Transplant Centre has also been working on a procedure called normothermic regional perfusion (NRP), which uses a machine to re-establish blood circulation to donated organs after death.

Mr Gabriel Oniscu, Clinical Director of the Edinburgh Transplant Centre- who co-led the research project, said: “Technologies, such as NRP, together with non-invasive real time assessment methods, are a real game changer that will allow surgeons to gain a better understanding of organ function prior to transplantation.”

Rotherham reaps benefits of Yorkshire & Humber Care Record

Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust has further connected with the Yorkshire & Humber Care Record. Clinical and care staff can now see the transfer of care documentation that Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) creates when transferring patients to the hospital. It’s hoped this will save time, increase efficiency and improve patient care.

Time saved is said to be, on average, six minutes per patient. Rotherham reportedly receive around 70 patients per day via ambulance, which equates to roughly seven hours per day of admin time saved.

Steven How, Consultant in EM and Health Informatics Clinical Lead in UECC at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We have worked together to put in place a system that is supporting the Urgent and Emergency Care Centre (UECC) Reception staff and Yorkshire Ambulance Service crews into producing a quicker and smoother transfer of care of YAS patients to our Emergency Department.

“Our patients are booked in automatically so that we can initiate actions the instant they arrive.  This has been long awaited and we are glad that it is functioning as expected.  We are now uploading the Patient Report Form electronically for patients attending the Emergency Department via the ambulance.”

Pippa Philpott, Receptionist at UECC The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, added: “We have been running with the new system here in the UECC for several weeks now.  The system has been working well and the registration process is not as time consuming.  The ease of saving the Patient Report Form is also good as the system automatically uploads to the patients notes.  Moving forward with the new system will make the whole process a lot easier.”

The process, which is now automated, has been live at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust for a number of months and is said to have ‘further evolved’ to include using the Google Cloud Platform for added data security.

Aviva to offer new DigiCare+ health and wellbeing app

Aviva has announced a new app called DigiCare+, designed with digital healthcare provider Square Health, which focuses on health and wellbeing.

Customers buying life insurance, over 50s plans or critical illness cover will have access to a complimentary smartphone app designed to help them prevent, detect and manage common health and wellbeing problems.

The app will provide easy access to the clinical expertise of experienced practitioners – including mental health counsellors, psychotherapists, nutritionists and nurses, as well as an expert second medical opinion. Aviva has also included an annual clinical health check within the app to help customers understand their health status and detect early signs of common health problems.

After registration, customers will be encouraged to use the clinical health check, where an at-home blood test checks 20 different health markers, including diabetes, cholesterol status and liver health. The user receives a personalised report and is invited to book a follow-up digital GP consultation to discuss their results.

Chelsea and Westminster NHS charity’s new platform for colorectal patients

CW+, the official charity for Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, recently set up a new digital platform for colorectal patients.

The colorectal department at the trust worked with My Clinical Outcomes (MCO) and Imperial College to design the platform and is now recruiting colorectal patients to record Patient Reported Outcome Measures (PROMs) data.

It is hoped this will provide more insight and, ultimately, better understanding of patient conditions and responses to treatment.

By using the platform, patients will be able to record symptoms in real-time from home, and the hospital will be able to track their status remotely.

Mr Christos Kontovounisios, Clinical Senior Lecturer at Imperial College and Colorectal Surgical Consultant at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, and project lead, said: “This new digital way of collecting data actually allows the patient to become a true partner with the clinician. So far, the process of collecting information from patients has been very fragmented. With this new digital approach patients will have the opportunity to report their outcomes and their experiences and improve our ability to care for them and to help improve the service for patients in future.”

Exscientia explains partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb

The AI-driven pharma tech company Exscientia has announced a partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS), to work on multi-target and AI-driven drug discovery.

The collaboration will use AI to ‘accelerate the discovery of small molecule therapeutic drug candidates in multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology & immunology’. While the agreement itself is said to include up to $50 million in upfront funding, up to $125 million in near to mid-term potential milestones, and additional clinical, regulatory and commercial payments that take the potential value of the deal beyond $1.2 billion. Exscientia will also receive tiered royalties on net sales of any marketed drug products resulting from the collaboration.

Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia, commented: “We are proud that Bristol Myers Squibb wants to build on our work together with this expanded collaboration and believe it speaks to the strength and promise of Exscientia’s AI technologies and drug discovery expertise. We’re excited to work with such an experienced collaborator as Bristol Myers Squibb to develop the best possible medicines for patients.”

University Hospitals of North Midlands’ automated X-ray bookings

University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) has announced the introduction of an automated process to enable patients to select their own X-ray appointments.

The robotic process automation (RPA) mimics human actions on the hospital’s digital appointments system and sends a short text message to the patient’s mobile phone with a unique web browser link. This will enable them to select their preferred location, date and time for an appointment.

The RPA automatically assigns an appointment based on the investigation and the patient’s preferences. It also takes into account what investigations can be done at which imaging centre, the patient’s age and the time the appointment could take.

Patients who do not book an appointment through the system will receive an appointment through a non-automated route instead, so patients who do not have access to the internet will not be disadvantaged.

Dr Marius Grima, Consultant Paediatric Radiologist and Clinical Information Officer for UHNM, said: “We hope to be able to expand this new way of working for the whole of the imaging department, including CT, MRI and ultrasound appointments. This will enable our scheduling teams to use their time more effectively, helping patients with complex needs.

“This really has been a massive team effort made up of clinicians, front-line staff, our IT team and our external partners. It is an example of what can be achieved when the agenda is patient-focused and when there is real skills-mix engagement. We hope to see a reduction in missed appointments by giving patients the choice to schedule their visit to our hospital at a time that is convenient for them at the onset of the booking process. More than 1,500 patients have booked an appointment using this process in the first few days of its launch.”

Limbic launches AI-based therapy assistant

Health tech company Limbic has launched three new products to support clinicians with increased mental healthcare demands.

The new products – Limbic Self-Care, Limbic Care and Limbic Prevent – have been introduced to ‘help bridge the gap’ between the increase in patients and the number of available clinicians.

Limbic’s latest suite of products use conversational AI to provide end-to-end support to clinicians and patients at different points in their treatment pathway, from waitlist through to discharge.

The Limbic platform is currently being deployed in four NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) services through its partnership with Vita Health Group, with plans to add additional services.

Dr Ross Harper, Co-founder and CEO of Limbic, commented: “Together, this new platform will empower clinicians to make data-driven decisions, while extending their teachings to the patient in-between sessions.”