News in Brief

News in Brief: Amwell acquires SilverCloud Health, Plymouth tests AI, and Somerset uses VR

It has been a busy 7 days at HTN, last week we held our first ever Digital Primary Care Conference and covered lots of industry news! If you missed the conference, you can catch up on some of the sessions through our review articles here, and stay tuned more are on the way.

Some of the news we’ve covered recently includes Devon ICS planning to integrate its EPRs, a new EPR programme at Royal Marsden with support from Great Ormond Street Hospital, and East Kent Hospitals has launched a pilot of Bluetooth patient tracking tech.

As for other headlines you may have missed, here’s the rest of our news in brief this week…

Amwell acquires SilverCloud Health and Conversa Health

Amwell, a Boston-based telehealth provider, has announced that it has signed definitive agreements to acquire SilverCloud Health, a digital mental health platform, and Conversa Health, an automated virtual healthcare solution.

The company said the “acquisitions bring longitudinal care and behavioural healthcare capabilities, expanding Amwell’s ability to improve patient care between visits using interactive technologies.”

Ido Schoenberg, Chairman and Co-CEO, Amwell, commented: “We believe that future care delivery will inevitably blend in-person, virtual and digital care experiences; and as such, we are uniquely building a global platform to support such advanced, coordinated care.

“By integrating SilverCloud Health and Conversa Health into our platform we are demonstrating Amwell’s fundamental and repeatable design to continually scale digital healthcare services across the different sites of care. These acquisitions will amplify the presence and reach of care teams and reaffirm that as the needs of the healthcare marketplace evolve, so too will the Amwell platform.”

Ken Cahill, CEO of SilverCloud Health, added: “There is a tremendous unmet need for mental health solutions in today’s world. While SilverCloud Health’s mental health programs have been used to support over 750,000 people to date, in partnership with more than 300 organisations globally including The Irish Health Service Executive and over 80% of the NHS mental health services, our work has only just begun.”

University Hospitals Plymouth starts artificial intelligence programme with Brainomix

University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust has joined a regional assessment team to explore the use Brainomix, a tool to help stroke patients. The software uses artificial intelligence to interpret scans and help to identify the right treatment.

Lead consultant Dr William Mukonoweshuro, said: “Its real strength, for me, is how quickly it identifies patients from all over Devon and Cornwall who will benefit from a potentially life-saving thrombectomy.”

Riaz Rahman, VP Healthcare Global, Brainomix, added: “Our ambition is to provide a world class stroke AI platform that provides instantaneous clinical information to inform treatment. We understand and recognise that every minute matters for a stroke patient. The team at UHP can now simultaneously view images with their associated referring centres to ensure every eligible patient for treatment is identified as soon as possible.”

Digital health services company to create 50 jobs

Cloud21, a company that specialises in supporting healthcare providers adopt health technologies, has announced that it will be creating 50 jobs as part of its growth plans.

The company provides services to support the adoption of major clinical systems, expertise to help organisations achieve interoperability and managed IT and cyber services and solutions.

Tony Corkett, founder director, Cloud21, said: “The NHS has a number of national objectives to meet. More recently cyber, data and integrated care have come into focus. Due to this we are seeing an increase in demand for expertise and skills in delivering and supporting digital health and cyber technology that will enable health and social care organisations to meet these objectives.

“The company is now at a stage of growth which will see us needing to scale our teams and processes to enable us to maintain high quality services to the NHS. This next phase of growth for Cloud21 is really exciting as we need to recruit across the business representing positive growth and opportunity for local communities.”

Mendalian receives funding boost

Mendalian, a health-tech company specialising in identifying rare diseases, has received a funding boost from Crista Galli Ventures.

Founded by Rudy Benfredj and Fran Garcia, the start-up helps clinicians to find undiagnosed patients, focusing on rare and hard-to-diagnose diseases, which the company says can be up to 1 in 17 people.

The company said: “Those suffering with a rare disease (e.g. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Behçet’s disease) often go through a ‘diagnostic odyssey’ which means multiple trips to see various healthcare professionals over many months and years. In the early days of their multisystem symptoms, these patients are often misdiagnosed, not diagnosed or quizzically viewed as a diagnostic mystery. Mendelian’s algorithms work across the primary care electronic patient record, searching for hidden clues to rare and hard-to-diagnose diseases. These clues are aggregated into a report by Mendelian’s clinical team and fed back to the General Practitioner, helping them to diagnose rare diseases earlier.”

Somerset NHS students embrace virtual reality tech

Medical students and junior doctors at Somerset NHS FT are utilising virtual reality (VR) and hand-held controllers, that can immerse them in a ‘real-life’ operating theatre.

The tech means students can learn how to explain diagnoses and treatment plans, deal with challenging situations, and engage with patients and their families.

Dr Alex Aquilina, ST3 registrars in trauma and orthopaedics, has been collaborating with tech company Virti to deliver the immersive VR learning content.

Dr Aquilina said: “Last year I was awarded a Health Education England simulation fellowship to collaborate with Virti to create immersive learning content. As part of this, I have been developing simulations of surgical procedures using 360-degree cameras.

“And more recently, we have been delivering VR simulations of surgical procedures to trauma and orthopaedic registrars across the Severn network as part of our weekly remote teaching, alongside traditional lecture-based presentations. This process does not substitute real-life training, but enhances it, as well as enabling our junior doctors to learn without necessarily coming into hospital during the pandemic, reducing the risk of infection to themselves and to our colleagues and patients.

“The virtual simulations allow teaching to be delivered to trainees providing an overview of the whole surgical process, from setting up equipment and prothesis, to briefing colleagues and positioning the patient correctly.

“In the future, we are planning to embed augmented reality elements into the simulations – such as close-up footage of laparoscopic (keyhole) procedures, infographics, and questions – where the learner would be led down different filmed routes based on their answers.”