News, News in Brief

News in Brief: Barts Health Long COVID app funding, RCN update, UKRI healthier lives AI, podiatry e-learning

Another week, another opportunity to round-up all the exciting developments within the health tech space. Across the past seven days or so, HTN has covered NHSX funding updates for digital pathways, Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust’s new five-year deal with Babylon Health, a new solution from Fujitsu, and a digital shift scheduling system for Northern Lincolnshire and Goole.

Outside the news, we’ve also recently announced our forthcoming Health Tech for the Now dates, and continued our recap of the HTN Digital Primary Care 2021 conference with content from Dr Osman Bhatti and Iatro.

But what about the rest of the headlines? We sum-up the latest news snippets that have captured our attention, below.

RCN launches app to help members campaign for fair pay

We start with the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), which has launched a new app to help its members campaign for fair pay in the profession.

The campaigning app is intended to support members who are advocating for changes including fair pay, safe staffing and effective care.

According to RCN, the app provides easy access to information, actions and the latest news about campaigning priorities. It also allows members to check their details are up-to-date, with new features and content expected to be added throughout the year.

Graham Revie, Chair of the RCN Trade Union Committee, said: “The RCN has been campaigning for more than a century, for better pay, improved terms and conditions, and safer working environments.

“The new campaigning app will make it even easier for you to stay up-to-date, get involved and help us achieve real change. Every member has the chance to be a campaigner and change starts with you.”

RCN is also calling for feedback on the app from members, which can be provided anonymously on the campaigning website via a red button and pop-up.

Barts Health Long COVID patients to get improved smartphone app support

Barts Charity is funding additional therapy and support for COVID-19 patients across Barts Health’s east London hospitals, as well as new developments to an app assisting those suffering from Long COVID.

Patients who have been in an intensive care unit (ICU) will be able to access an additional therapy package in post-ICU clinics, which will involve psychologists, occupational therapists, and physiotherapists.

The extra therapies will be available from September at four sites – St Bartholomew’s, The Royal London, Whipps Cross and Newham – in an attempt to address the backlog of patients.

The charity has supplied £337,000 in funding, which will provide therapists to work alongside core medical staff in COVID respiratory follow-up clinics, and focus on physiotherapy, psychology and lung function.

Anthony Bastin, a consultant in critical care and the lead for critical care follow-up at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, said: “Many hundreds of patients have required intensive care at Barts Health NHS Trust during the COVID-19 pandemic and a significant number have needed prolonged rehabilitation and support following ICU and hospital discharge.

“This grant from Barts Charity will help our critical care follow-up services meet the increased demand for supporting patients and their families in their physical and psychological recovery.

“This will not only support patients following COVID critical illness, but also those survivors of non-COVID critical illness, at a time when existing hospital and community services are under enormous strain.”

Some of the funding will also go towards helping patients with Long COVID to manage their symptoms remotely, via the Living With COVID app. Clinicians are currently supporting more than 230 patients through the technology, and the extra money will now see the app developed further to include translations into Bengali, Urdu and Polish, so that more patients can benefit.

Dr Will Ricketts, a consultant chest physician at Barts Health NHS Trust, said: “We have had great feedback so far from our patients who love the app, but we remain concerned about the impact of the digital divide, especially in our local populations.

“This grant will allow us to adapt the app for non-English speakers, as well as enabling patients without direct access to a smartphone or tablet to add a friend or relative to be their proxy, meaning that even more of our patients will be able to benefit.”

New app to use AI to improve healthy ageing

A new app, funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), will focus on using artificial intelligence (AI) to improve adult health.

The app and its website, developed by a Newcastle-based company called Changing Health, will focus on helping older adults to live healthier lives for longer by encouraging life-long behaviour changes related to diet, sleep and exercise.

The tech will use AI to provide personalised information and advice for those with, or at risk of, long-term medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, as per UKRI.

In addition, the app will be available through organisations, employers and insurers, to allow them to support their workforces or customers.

UKRI will be providing Changing Health with an initial £75,000 in funding as part of its Healthy Ageing Challenge, which will be matched by the investors North Star Ventures, Tate & Lyle Ventures and SHIFT Invest.

Professor Mike Trenell, CEO of Changing Health, said: “Each of us is unique – we eat differently, move differently, and feel differently. Yet, traditional approaches to helping people change their behaviour take a one-size-fits-all approach, leaving people behind, especially those who are easily overlooked. Changing Health will instead focus on personalised information to ensure better health for individuals.”

New podiatry apprenticeship course live on HEE’s e-learning for health hub 

Health Education England’s e-learning for healthcare (HEE elfh) has been collaborating with Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Health and Care Innovations Limited, the University of Plymouth Podiatry team and Health Education England South West, to develop a new e-learning programme.

The programme, which is now live on the HEE elfh hub, will support podiatrists by providing training for apprenticeship roles, including at foundation, intermediate and graduate level.

Created after ‘targeted action’ by the South West regional podiatry workforce action group, the programme’s aim is to support ‘consistent clinical education and competency evaluation’ for learners and educators.

The new sessions have been developed so that podiatry staff can teach, mentor, train and educate apprentices remotely.

Covering a range of topics in a number of areas – such as clinical procedures, surgery, equipment, governance and protocols – the video-based content guides users through what they will learn during pre-registration apprenticeship courses.

HCI’s project managers, scriptwriters, designers and videographers created and produced 83 videos, as well as written questions, for the e-learning course, which was then reviewed and sign-off by clinical teams for Torbay and South Devon, as well as podiatry lecturers from the University of Plymouth.

Angela Abbott, South West Podiatry Workforce Action Plan Project Lead, said: “These videos have been developed by South West teams with support from HEE, they aim to describe and demonstrate a range of topics and skills that podiatrists should encounter in the workplace. We hope they will provide consistency for our students on placement and help save educators and mentors time.“