News in brief: FDB inks Health and Social Care Northern Ireland deal, Anglia trust lab goes fully digital, healthy ageing product funding

Another week, another Olympian effort from health tech innovators across the UK and beyond. Over the past seven days we’ve reported on the Acute COVID app for redeployed NHS staff, NHSX’s call for healthcare professionals to submit challenges, and the Care and Health Information Exchange’s migration to Orion Health.

We’ve also interviewed Steven Antrobus, Senior Technical Project Manager for Digital Health Software, whose team co-designs apps for health research, and Bruno Botelho, Director of Digital Operations at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, to find out about the great work going on behind the scenes.

But here, in our latest news in brief round-up, we’ve got yet more great news stories on digital achievements, new contracts, collaborations and funding opportunities…

FDB to supply Multilex to Health and Social Care Northern Ireland

FDB (First Databank) has announced that it has penned a deal to supply its clinical decision support solution, Multilex, to encompass, Health and Social Care Northern Ireland’s transformation initiative.

The step is part of a plan to introduce a digital integrated care record to the nation that will be ‘instantly accessible’, support Health and Social Care Northern Ireland to transform care delivery, and improve patient safety, health outcomes and experiences for those using and delivering services.

Gary Loughran, Director of encompass said: “Improving patient safety and supporting our prescribing professionals with clinical decision support are key objectives of encompass and I am delighted to be working with FDB to deliver this for our population and health care professionals across Northern Ireland.”

Last year, Epic was awarded the contract for the new system, and tasked with rolling it out alongside encompass and Health and Social Care Northern Ireland. As part of the agreement, the Multilex solution – which provides clinical decision support and alerts at the point of care – will be embedded with Epic workflows to boost its electronic prescribing system.

Darren Nichols, Managing Director at FDB added: “We are delighted to be working with HSCNI and Epic on this exciting project, and are thrilled to deliver the clinical efficiency and patient safety benefits of Multilex to Northern Ireland.”

Healthy ageing innovation funding opportunity opens

A competition to secure healthy ageing innovation funding is now open to social entrepreneurs.

UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Healthy Ageing Challenge will provide up to £150,ooo for successful projects that support social enterprises to develop products and services that tackle the wide-ranging impacts of ageing.

Each individual project selected will receive a share of the £4 million in total funding. According to UKRI, projects must be run by social entrepreneurs that have the ‘potential to scale up’ and focus on one or more of:

  • The ‘common complaints of ageing’, such as impaired hearing, eyesight, or mobility, as well as mental and physical wellbeing
  • Sustaining physical activity for over 50s
  • Living well with cognitive impairment
  • Maintaining health at work
  • Designing for ‘age-friendly’ homes
  • Supporting social connections
  • Creating ‘healthy and active places’.

It is hoped that the funding will help to reduce inequalities in healthy ageing and that the financial support will aid existing social enterprises to expand their products and services.

George MacGinnis, Healthy Ageing Challenge Director at UKRI, said: “Social enterprises can play an important part in addressing inequalities in healthy longevity, yet recent research has highlighted the difficulties they face in raising funds to grow. That’s why the Healthy Ageing Challenge will provide £4 million funding through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI).”

To find out more or apply, click here.

BREATHE and IQVIA to collaborate on respiratory research

BREATHE – the Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health – has announced a new collaboration with advanced analytics provider IQVIA.

The organisations are set to work together to accelerate the early diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions by ‘bringing together non-identified health data research’ and ‘insights expertise’ to improve patient outcomes.

By implementing ‘strategic alignment’ between them, the collaboration will focus on joint-working programmes using IQVIA’s health data technology, genomic capabilities and care pathway analytics, and BREATHE’s network of partners across academia, charities and industry.

They will work together to:

  • Improve patient care pathways for those with long-term respiratory conditions, eliminating bottlenecks with quicker diagnoses and referrals , plus earlier access to medicines
  • Deliver efficiencies within the NHS by keeping people in the community, and reducing avoidable harm, hospital appointments and admissions
  • Help researchers accelerate the discovery of more effective, personalised treatments for better health outcomes
  • Establish the UK as a centre for health data-enabled research, to attract more investment.

The partnership will also enable IQVIA to utilise its expertise in cancer data with the aim of making earlier lung cancer diagnoses, and there is also the potential to help create pathways for Long COVID treatment by identifying patients early and collecting data through follow-ups.

Angela McFarlane, Senior Market Development Director at IQVIA, said: “We are very excited to be working with BREATHE to catalyse the power of the UK’s uniquely rich health data to bring about step-change improvements in diagnosis and treatment of respiratory conditions and to attract more research that will accelerate the discovery of innovative medicines and the optimal use of existing NICE-approved treatments.”

Professor Aziz Sheikh, Director, BREATHE added: “Respiratory conditions affect a huge proportion of the UK population – one in five people live with a long-term respiratory disease. The application of non-identified health data can help us to deliver better outcomes for these patients, more efficiently, at a lower cost. We’re thrilled to welcome IQVIA as a supporting partner, with the prospect of informing earlier and more accurate diagnoses for patients across the UK.”

WellSky International partners with InterSystems for cloud migration

InterSystems has announced that it will work with WellSky International on the cloud migration of its Prescribing and Medicines Management Service for NHS Scotland.

According to the company, the migration will use InterSystems’ IRIS for Health, a data platform ‘specifically engineered to extract and exchange value from healthcare data’, to power a new Hospital Electronic Prescribing and Medicines Administration (HEPMA) programme for the NHS Scotland North region, which serves 1.4 million people.

The NHS Scotland North HEPMA programme will cover hospitals across six NHS Scotland health boards and replace current paper prescribing and medication administration systems, with around 40,000 expected users. It will be accessible from any device – including PCs, laptops and smart tablets – which are connected to the secure NHS network, and the first implementation is set for go live in the autumn.

Robert Tysall-Blay, Chief Executive of WellSky International, said: “InterSystems IRIS for Health was the natural choice for this critical project, providing the next logical step of our technology strategy to ensure performance and scalability and resilience in the cloud.”

Ron Peterson, HEPMA Programme Director for NHS Scotland North, commented: “Moving HEPMA and Pharmacy Stock Control into the cloud using InterSystems IRIS for Health is an essential next step for the six NHS boards in our region. It opens up major advantages in performance and integration. These are the building blocks for the development of more advanced and responsive services that maximise precious resources.”

Chris Norton, Managing Director UK and Ireland, InterSystems, added: “InterSystems is extremely pleased to continue expanding our partnership with WellSky and provide the underlying platform for this critical project that will streamline medicines management and prescribing across a major, diverse region of Scotland. At InterSystems we are committed to helping customers solve the most critical information challenges.”

North West Anglia trust lab wins award for going digital

A laboratory at North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust has received an award from the health technology company Royal Philips for going fully digital.

Believed to be one of the first labs in the NHS to do this, the histopathology department at Peterborough City Hospital underwent its transformation during the first lockdown in 2020. According to the trust, the team ‘took advantage of the slowdown in routine pathology work’ by investing in and installing state-of-the-art digital equipment that can help staff to make more reliable cancer diagnoses.

Dr David Bailey, Consultant and Clinical Lead for Cellular Pathology, stated: “Five years ago, I could never have imagined that I would find digital pathology as useful as glass slide microscopy. Now that we have it, I believe we see things on digital imaging that we don’t necessarily pick up on glass. The process is also more efficient and very much speeds up the patient pathway which subsequently improves their experience as the waiting can add to the stress and upset of an already worrying time.

“The new equipment also means that we are able to report more cases in shorter periods of time and can share cases remotely with pathologists in other hospitals to obtain specialist second opinions for complex cases. This can be done much more rapidly with digital imaging, which means that patients wait less time to receive their results.”

Jodie Bridge, Business Marketing and Sales Leader for Precision Diagnosis at Philips UKI, said: “Philips has supported the digitisation of approximately 2.5 million slides in the UK in 2020. However, North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust stands out globally as a trust which has fully embraced the technology and made changes in their process to maximise the use of the system. It has been an honour to present them with this award, the first in the UK, and to celebrate their achievement.”