News, News in Brief

News in brief: AI app calculates pre-eclampsia risk, new Welsh ambulance app, health research supercomputer

There’s never a dull moment in the world of health tech, with last week seeing stories surface of new suppliers joining the NHSX Digitising Social Care Records Programme, South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust’s new digital strategy developing, and the NHS ORB app being ready for user testing.

HTN also took a closer look at a new Green Paper on data user registers standards by the UK Health Data Research Alliance and at how NHS trusts and CCGs fared in a web accessibility ranking.

Below are a selection of other just as newsworthy notes that didn’t make it into HTN’s headlines, including AI boosts, a research network on healthcare robots, and e-learning news…

King’s project wins NHSX funding for AI pre-eclampsia app

A project at King’s College London has secured funding from the NHS’s Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award. Selected in phase one of round two – the latest round to be announced – panPIERS, an app that will use AI to find out individual women’s risks of pre-eclampsia complications, will see existing tools turned into a smart phone-friendly feature.

Led by Professor Peter von Dadelszen, who specialises in Global Women’s Health at King’s, the project will work to link up the PIERS (Pre-eclampsia Integrated Estimate of Risk Score) tools, miniPIERS and fullPIERS.

One of 38 winners, the project will benefit from funding to to accelerate development, testing and evaluation. The AI Award is part of the NHS AI Lab, which is led by NHSX and co-delivered with the Accelerated Access Collaborative and National Institute for Health Research.

Professor von Dadelszen said: “Using the power of AI to update and link the PIERS models in this way will enable individualised care of women whose pregnancies are complicated by high blood pressure, wherever they interact with their own health system, whether in antenatal clinic or on delivery suite, and wherever they live in the world.”

Dr Indra Joshi, Director of AI at NHSX, added: “With this latest round of AI Award winners, we now have an incredible breadth of expertise across a wide range of clinical and operational areas. Through this award, King’s College London will be at the forefront of applying artificial intelligence in new ways to transform health and care.”

UK supercomputer launched in boost to AI and healthcare research

NVIDIA’s Cambridge-1, a powerful UK supercomputer dedicated to healthcare research, has been launched. Partners on the project include King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, as well as AstraZeneca, GSK and Oxford Nanopore Technologies.

Both scientists and healthcare experts will be able to use what King’s calls the “powerful combination of AI and simulation” to conduct research that will benefit patients in the fields of health and life sciences.

Projects using the supercomputer will include teaching AI models to ‘generate synthetic brain images’ by learning from the MRI scans that have been taken of a wide range of patients with different conditions, to produce an ‘infinite amount’ of ‘never-seen brain images’.

It’s hoped the model will help researchers gaining a better understanding of what diseases and conditions such as brain cancer, dementia, stroke, and multiple sclerosis look like – with the aim of potentially improving early diagnoses.

Professor Sebastien Ourselin, Head of the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences at King’s College London said: “Having a partnership in place between a large company like NVIDIA and the NHS will help to solve two major issues: access to data and access to power.

“Through this partnership, we will be able to use a scale of computational power that is unprecedented in healthcare research. It will be truly transformational for the health and treatment of patients.”

Professor Ian Abbs, Chief Executive Officer of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, added: “The power of artificial intelligence in healthcare will help to speed up diagnosis for patients, improve services such as breast cancer screening, and support the way that we risk assess and prioritise patients according to clinical need.

“We are excited about our involvement in the Cambridge-1 data centre as it will enable us to be amongst the first to benefit from these new AI capabilities — using the very latest technology to benefit our patients, as well as manage precious resources more efficiently.”

Welsh Ambulance Service aims gaming app at youngsters

The Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust has a new app that aims to educate young people on what to do when there is an emergency.

The Blue Light Hub app hosts four games which teach people what happens when they call 999, as well as how ambulances and equipment are dispatched and managed, and what different uniforms signify.

Aimed mainly at the age group seven to 12, the app is bilingual and available for free on Google and Apple app stores.

Created after discussions on engagement with a clinical psychologist and a social development expert, the app’s games include a quiz and a ‘dress up’-focused session based around uniforms.

Claire Roche, Executive Director of Quality and Nursing for the Welsh Ambulance Service said: “I am delighted that we can engage with young people in this way as it is important for everyone to understand how emergency services are provided and when (and when not) 999 should be used.

“It also enables young people to have a window into the world of an ambulance service and may encourage them to think about a career in healthcare in the future.”

Sheffield Hallam joins new healthcare robot research network

Sheffield Hallam University has joined a new research network which focuses on how healthcare robots could support elderly people living with frailty.

The EMERGENCE network, which is the recipient of a £700,000 NetworkPlus grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, hopes to take healthcare robotics from the lab and into the real-world. Researchers will explore how the technology can benefit people in self-managing conditions that result from frailty, as well as how the resulting data can help health professionals.

A collaborative project also including researchers from the University of the West of England Bristol, The University of Sheffield, Heriot Watt University and the University of Hertfordshire, the institutions will all collaborate with local healthcare providers such as regional Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), care commissioning groups (CCGs), Integrated Care Systems (ICSs), and hospital trusts, as well as residential and community care providers and councils.

Robotic companies involved include Consequential, Cyberselves, and PAL Robotics and Skills for Care UK.

Alessandro Di Nuovo, Professor of Machine Intelligence at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We will nurture co-designed research to help lead to novel technologies capable of transforming how frailty is managed in the community. Up to 10 funded feasibility pilot studies will drive co-designed, high quality research that will lead to technologies capable of transforming community health and care.”

NHS HEE TEL announces e-learning session news

NHS Health Education England (HEE) Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) has revealed that over 3.5 million elfh (e-Learning for Healthcare) resources and sessions were accessed by around 112,500 nurses last year.

According to the team, which announced the stats on Twitter, the most popular programme of 2020 overall was, understandably, its Coronavirus learning option –  with immunisation and blood transfusion programmes also among the most visited.

Total learning time clocked up at 871, 665 hours and the most common time for learning was a Wednesday afternoon.

In other HEE TEL news, the team is inviting – in collaboration with Public Health England – healthcare professionals to visit the Physical Activity for Health e-learning programme across this summer, to learn more about the benefits of being active, including preventing long-term conditions.

In partnership with The National Lottery, Sport England and This Mum Moves, the course says it ‘prepares GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals’ to ‘champion the benefits of physical activity with their patients’. In doing so, it is hoped it will ‘help prevent and/or manage a range of common physical and mental health conditions’ and ‘familiarise the learner with the UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines and how to incorporate evidence into daily clinical care.

To find the course, click here.