We hope you enjoyed the Health Tech Awards 2021 – where we announced 21 worthy winners, as well as highly commended entries – to celebrate all the fantastic work and innovation that has taken place in health tech across the last 12 months.
On one evening every year we gather together – virtually – to recognise NHS, industry and other partners’ efforts to enhance the healthcare sector. The class of 2021’s offering featured some of the most inspiring projects and programmes yet. But, if you missed it, don’t worry, as you can catch up through this ‘meet the winners piece’, where we’ll share the successful entries and the announcement videos once again.
It may not quite match the magic of the night – where we got to experience health tech profs’ live reactions – but this way our winners can continue to celebrate their triumphs before they receive their trophies, and we get to share all the great work with our readers, as well as re-watching the video announcements from some special guests…
So, without further ado, meet our chosen 21…
To welcome viewers to the event, we first shared an introductory video from Dr Minal Bakhai, Deputy Director and Clinical Lead for Digital First Primary Care at NHS England, who got proceedings underway with a few kind words for all of our entrants…
Our first winner of the evening was Careology, who scooped the top prize for Most Promising Pilot, in what was a highly competitive category.
LloydsPharmacy Clinical Homecare (LPCH) and Careology’s pilot focuses on cancer care delivery. The Careology healthtech platform, which is recommended by Macmillan Cancer Support, helps people living with cancer to feel supported and connected during their treatment. The platform partnered with LPCH to empower patients, who were receiving treatment at home, via a mobile app and remote monitoring dashboard.
The project was co-designed through workshops and, in February 2021, LPCH commenced a three-month Proof Of Concept. It introduced Careology Professional to the entire nursing team and the Careology mobile app to a selection of patients, to help them connect to their family, friends, nurses, and clinicians.
The Careology Professional dashboard allows clinical teams to remotely monitor their patients’ health and wellbeing information, symptoms, and side effects, as well as to chart data from wearable devices which continually monitor temperature, heart rate and activity levels. Clinicians and nurses can identify potential red flags, including anomalies in vital signs and medication adherence, allowing early intervention, which can improve health outcomes.
Bolton NHS Foundation Trust’s winning entry was its very own Acute Medicine Referral List – a clinically developed Electronic Patient List that can help save clinical time.
The trust designed an Electronic Patient List which automates referrals to Acute Medicine, from multiple admission streams. In just five months, it says there have already been reductions of 34.4 per cent in waiting times for consultant reviews, 19.4 per cent for length of stay, and an average of 298 minutes saved throughout the patient journey. The Acute Medicine team identified an opportunity within their Allscripts Sunrise Electronic Patient Record (EPR), which provided the trust with the flexibility to manipulate data and integrate information into a single, automated list.
The trust successfully implemented the unified integrated automated list in November 2020, and then compared cohorts of patients from pre-implementation, six weeks post-implementation and five months post-implementation, to evaluate the impact. It was found that the greatest improvements were around consultant reviews, with a four hours and 58 minutes reduction in waiting time, 51.4 percent more patients seen within 14 hours of medical referral, and a 65.7 per cent increase in same day consultant reviews.
There has also been a 15 per cent increase in patients discharged within 72 hours. While, by comparing length of stay, the annualised reduction in total occupied bed days and associated financial impact has been calculated. For 12,000 admissions this equates to a reduction of 15,600 total occupied bed days and potential financial saving of £3.12 million.
Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust was our winner for Best Health Tech Solution of the Year. The trust automated its ambulance handovers through the use of ‘Bob’, an Intelligent Automation digital worker that automates the transfer of data from South Coast Ambulance Services software into the emergency department (ED) system.
Members of the IT team spent time shadowing the ED administration department and began mapping the patient record workflow and pathways from an ambulance to triage. Through this mapping exercise, the concept of a digital worker (‘Bob’) employed to assist with the reduction of manual patient documentation uploads was conceived.
‘Bob’ was piloted during select periods of 2020 and 2021, before being activated 24/7. Since going live with ‘Bob’ in April 2021, the ED team has:
Coming out tops in the data category was Combined Intelligence for Population Health Action (CIPHA), a programme launched in April 2020 when Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership needed a real-time population health analytics platform to manage the COVID crisis and drive recovery. The platform went live across 40 organisations and 359 GP practices in three months and CIPHA has now expanded to cover around 16 million people, helping to inform national policy and drive local action.
The population health management platform was developed by Graphnet. The company was contracted to provide the single source command and control regional intelligence platform with real-time analytics, dashboards presenting information to allow prompt co-ordinated actions, and the data that could help predict, identify and control outbreaks quickly.
The system draws data from 15 acute trusts, 359 GP practices, eight community trusts, three mental health trusts, nine local authorities and emergency services. The information is combined with information from multiple national data sources, such as Public Health England’s data on COVID cases and tests and ONS death rates. It provides teams across the region with real-time intelligence and analytics, including dashboards that cover three areas: capacity and demand; epidemiology and population stratification.
Drum roll…the winner of the Best Use of Digital in Primary Care award was the Modality Partnership, for the use of its ‘MoBots.’.
During the pandemic, Modality Partnership implemented Repeat Process Automation (RPA) solutions to help alleviate operational pressures. The GP partnership set itself the challenge of applying digital workers -called MoBots – across 49 sites and eight regions, and managed to deliver
more than 25,000 hours of work which would otherwise have required manual human intervention.
The MoBots were applied to two functions – email consultation processing and appointment clinic mirroring. By automating the processes around email consultation through the MoBots, which could extract pertinent information from the eConsult directly into the patient record, it was easier for staff time to be saved. The partnership also adapted the MoBots to work with appointment clinic mirroring, as the ‘high volume’ task was taking up ‘significant administrative resources’.
To date, the partnership has saved 25,000 hours through the MoBots running those two specific functions, which represents a 200 per cent return on investment.
Alder Hey Children’s Hospital netted the top prize for best solution in digital mental health. In partnership with 13 organisations across three clinical commissioning groups, Alder Hey used digital innovation to transform children and young people’s mental health services.
A web-based platform was invented to bring together a single point of access, utilising one digital referral form, and providing support and resources. There were previously multiple points of entry for different organisations, while all referrals were paper-based, different questions were asked within the referrals, different organisations provided different advice, and accessing referrals and advice was convoluted.
To streamline the process and improve user experience all referral forms were collated and tested for clinical validity, a digital referral form was created and tested, and an external partner redesigned the referral form and the web-based platform based on the information previously gathered through interviews and test groups. A resource section, clinically validated via ORCHA, also offers things to watch, things to read and things to download whilst waiting or receiving treatment.
In our cyber security category, Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust topped the charts for its implementation of a cyber security programme to meet national requirements, provide board assurance and save on employment costs.
With only a small team, the trust found it needed some additional support to achieve its cyber security aims, and came across Cloud21’s Vulnerability Management Service, which helps NHS organisations to assess and prioritise the vulnerabilities highlighted by scanners. It also implements and manages processes to approve and deploy patches and fixes; and provides reports and audit trails to help ensure compliance with requirements such as NHS Cyber Alerts and DSPT.
By employing Cloud21, the trust also realised it could avoid spending more than £200,000 in salaries, plus further costs associated with recruitment. Cloud21 brought a team of cyber security experts to work with the trust’s IT team, remediate the risks highlighted by the vulnerability scanner and to work to secure the IT estate. A cyber team was also available 24/7 and the service agreement included a commitment to have someone available, regardless of annual leave or sickness.
For excellence in digital co-design, Nervecentre was our judges’ choice for developing an electronic patient records solution and using modern technology, designed with – and for – clinicians to support hospitals with tackling patient safety and patient flow. The company provides mobile tools to help trusts build a culture of real-time data entry by putting the EPR into clinicians’ pockets for use at the patient’s bedside, to help recognise patient deterioration, escalate care and improve flow.
Nervecentre has also partnered with Leicester’s Hospitals, taking a module approach to deployment. Andy Carruthers, Acting Chief Information Officer at Leicester’s Hospitals said: “The move to using Nervecentre is a key component of our digital strategy, which by 2022 aims to consolidate many of our existing systems into an EPR that supports patient safety, patient flow initiatives and reduces our reliance on paper through a robust single patient record. The consolidated system will also give us better connectivity – and real-time visibility – with our partners in primary, community, mental health and social care.
“This is a natural progression of our relationship with Nervecentre and marks a joint commitment to futureproof Leicester’s Hospitals so it can deliver sustainable services fit for the 21st century.”
The communication app myo receieved the award for engagement. Its goals are around transforming relationships in care and bringing families closer to their loved-ones by allowing caregivers to easily share secure content, videos and messages of moments from everyday caregiving.
GDPR-compliant, it supports the care-ecosystem to help solve the “information asymmetry between residents, caregivers and families in the care sector”, which occurs due to those in care often being digitally-excluded or struggling to communicate independently. Its fully-integrated, digital communication system is suitable for a low-digital environment and specifically suitable for care homes.
The app allows for direct contact between residents and their families through what is describes as a “joyful social media platform” that provides “broad insight into full life in the care home” and gives a voice to caregivers, disrupting the “negative communication cycle.”
Wye Valley NSH Trust (WVT) and Better Care’s winning entry focuses on implementing an EPMA, at pace, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The trust switched to electronic prescribing and medicine administration to make efficiency savings and improve patient safety and – despite COVID-related delays – went live on its pilot ward within six months. In just nine months, the Better Meds EPMA system was live across 95 per cent of the trust, including three community hospitals.
WVT put in extensive pre-planning to ensure, starting with gaining buy-in at board level and engaging with end-users early to understand pain points and achieve a rollout by consent. The latter included knocking on doors, joining ward rounds, giving end-users a laptop to trial the system, organising a stand in the canteen where people could ask questions, and standing at the staff entrance from 7am to speak with workers as they arrived.
The team also moved training online, incentivised engagement by getting the nurse training course accredited with the Royal College of Nursing and, during each ward implementation, was available from 7am-10.30pm for troubleshooting. The trust estimates that 210 working hours will be saved each quarter from pharmacists no longer having to look for charts, while Doctors are estimated to save 60 hours a week due to no longer having to transcribe medicines in discharge letters.
Calm Harm, an app to help young people resist or manage the urge to self-harm, has been named as our App of the Year. The application, developed by teenage mental health charity stem4, was created co-collaboratively, is free and provides an evidence-based early intervention. So far, it has been downloaded almost 2 million times.
Aimed primarily at young people aged 13-19, the app can provide users with immediate techniques to help break the cycle of self-harm. Developed by Dr Nihara Krause, a Clinical Psychologist, in collaboration with young people, it uses strategies from evidence-based Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) to help users learn to identify and manage their ‘emotional mind’, teaching impulse control, emotional regulation and tracking underlying triggers to harmful urges. It also helps users self-monitor and signposts to further help.
The tasks are targeted for different ages, while the app can be personalised, is accessible to marginalised groups and the tasks and creative development are updated regularly using user feedback. Calm Harm was also built to comply with NHS digital technology standards, is one of only 15 mental health apps listed on the NHS Apps Library, and requires no internet access.
The Health Tech Awards 20201 judging panel recognised University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) and its Hospital Oxygen Usage Monitoring Application for its excellent support of back office teams.
Oxygen supply to hospitals was of critical importance during the first and second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, so UCLHC created an app to monitor the flow rate through the hospital’s vacuum insulated evaporator (VIE) – its main oxygen tank – to provide oversight of daily usage. The trust says that monitoring this flow is difficult and can only be done at the VIE itself, if the correct monitoring equipment has been installed. Due to the size of the hospital, multi-site operation and complex VIE install, the team came up with an automated solution that uses open-source tools – the methodology and code for which is available on GitHub.
UCLH uses robotic process automation, via an open-source project TagUI, to go to the website and grab VIE fill data daily. These data are then manipulated in an app built in PHP to calculate flow rate and compare it to the previous days, with an automated email then sent out daily, so that there is an awareness of the current usage compared to threshold. The results are then displayed in an app, which has been running for over 15 months as an entirely automated solution and has allowed the trust to manage oxygen supplies throughout both waves of the pandemic.
Our next award winner is Cognetivity, an integrated cognitive assessment platform enabled by InterSystems IRIS for Health. The company is reinventing early dementia detection though its scalable ‘Integrated Cognitive Assessment’ test (ICA) that uses advances in neuroscience, AI and the power of InterSytems IRIS for Health cloud data management platform, and is now set for its commercial roll-out.
The ICA test is based on humans’ strong reaction to animal stimuli, and the ability of a healthy brain to process images of animals in less than 200ms. ICA is a rapid animal/non-animal visual categorisation test, engaging brain areas affected in pre-symptomatic stages of Alzheimer’s and detecting subtle impairments in information processing speed, aiming to detect the earliest signs of disease before the onset of memory loss symptoms.
Cognetivity’s ICA platform is approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and has been deployed with the specialist NHS mental health organisation North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust, since September 2020. It is also in use in primary care in Sunderland.
Definition Health has created multiple web-based apps including LifeBox e-POA, Secure Virtual Clinic and Recovery. The solutions focus on efficiency, reducing paper-based administration and reducing patient attendances, whilst increasing patient safety. Its virtual clinic module offers a video consultation function and a two-way file transfer (video, image, document) facility between patient and hospital.
The LifeBox e-POA module provides a healthcare questionnaire for a patient to complete at home. The company said: “By collecting this information prior to an initial outpatient appointment, LifeBox prevents unnecessary hospital visits at the pre-assessment stage whilst ensuring valuable clinical capacity is reserved for those who need greater clinical support and intervention. The patient’s questionnaire is remotely reviewed by a nurse who can triage the patient as fit for surgery, requiring further assessment by phone / virtual appointment, or as needing to be seen face-to-face.” The company also provides a ‘recovery module’ featuring digital tools to support a patient’s wellbeing and update caregivers on the patient’s recovery status.
In March 2020, Rethink Partners, Alcove and Essex, Suffolk and Kent Councils launched a programme. Within 16 weeks it had equipped over 5,000 vulnerable adults with video ‘carephones’, so that they could talk to friends, family, carers and other professionals, via video, when they were unable to meet due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The strategy was to identify key groups of people, with the most need, to help them stay connected with their friends, family and care services. By the end of July 2020, the project had delivered 2,000 video carephones in Essex, 1,700 in Kent and 1,400 in Suffolk, allowing more than 1 million video calls to be made across the last 12 months.
The team also trained more than 750 health and care professionals, including those working in care homes and in the community, so they were able to support vulnerable people to use the technology and stay in contact with families and friends when contact was limited.
Cheshire East Borough Council have been awarded for their work around use of MyCareView (MCV) – a ‘patient-first initiative’ available through the NHS App or internet browsers. MCV is currently giving people in East Cheshire access to the healthcare services and data held about them in primary and secondary care. Patients can add information to their record, exercise control over how their information is shared, and use it as a secure communications tool.
MyCareView provides health and wellbeing resources from local and national sources, all in one place. The patient portal within this gives individuals, and their families or care network, direct access to information and the ability to communicate and share information securely with their chosen contacts or clinical teams from multiple organisations. The MCV patient portal is also integrated with the NHS App so individuals are able to access its services via a single ‘digital front door’ that is nationally mandated using NHS Login credentials, or directly through the PKB patient portal user interface that offers a choice of 20 languages.
People in East Cheshire can register to access this service through their mobile. User data can be entered manually, or by connecting up to 100 supported devices to upload measurements automatically, such as a Fitbit App or blood pressure monitors. While, integration with GP Practice software means that GPs can view information uploaded by their patients. Secondary care appointments, test results, care planning, team-based messaging, symptom trackers, journals, consultations, questionnaires, allergies, prescriptions, links to forums, resources and more, are also securely accessible for both patients and clinicians.
The Partnership of the Year award was all about collaboration and Qolcom and HPE Aruba were noted for theirs with the NHS Nightingale Hospital Exeter. In response to the pandemic, the hospital opened to provide additional capacity to care for COVID-19 patients. Purpose-built in just eight weeks, a crucial requirement for the 116-bed Hospital was a robust, scalable and reliable network to support IT and healthcare teams to deliver better patient outcomes. Secure Wi-Fi network was a top priority to ensure operational efficiency to provide critical equipment and responsive care.
Qolcom, the EMEA and UKI Partner of the year for HPE Aruba, delivered “a comprehensive, reliable wired and wireless network across the site within weeks” through granular security (for wi-fi and wired network), dependable hardware and intelligent design, wireless connectivity, centralised control, collaborative delivery and 24/7 support. Overall, a fast, reliable and secure IT network was delivered for the Nightingale Exeter – to a tight timescale and budget.
X-On is our winner when it comes to cloud, thanks to its solution, called Surgery Connect. The company utilises cloud technology to equip GP practices for effective patient communications. The cloud-based phone system helps practices to manage local demand and meet national priorities, both of which can be exacerbated by often overloaded and outdated phone systems. During the last year, X-on expanded its reach among GP practices in England and Wales by more than 35 per cent and Surgery Connect is now deployed in more than 835 GP surgeries, serving an estimated 8.5 million patients.
The cloud-based system, which is designed and tailored to meet the needs of GPs, practice staff and patients, counts unlimited phone lines, call-back, contact centre functionality, self-serve appointments and signposting to self-care and online services, among its features that can help reduce practice pressure. Real-time management dashboards also enable staff to prioritise resources, while automated SMS appointment and prescription reminders increase convenience for patients and reduce missed appointments, which cost the NHS more than £216m annually, according to NHS England.
Surgery Connect integrates all practice communications, with everything tied to the patient record, and many practices have also utilised the service to support remote working for staff through video appointments. A “queue busting” feature also enables patients to take a place in the call queue without having to wait on the phone for an available receptionist or GP. In March 2021, around 142,000 patients chose this option, saving 25 minutes each in queuing, as well as any additional call costs.
And what about the teamwork behind the innovations? The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust (RNOH) and Interneuron have been working on a project to design, develop and implement an open-source modular care record. The iterative co-design methodology is an example of public-private innovation.
The ambition is to create an eco-system whereby NHS organisations and development partners create “safe, secure and fit-for purpose clinical systems and apps” by using freely available open source technologies, to make the most of joint digital investments and reduce the investment burden on the NHS as a whole. It’s hoped that this will reduce barriers to entry, lift digital maturity and democratise access to a flexible modular EPR for those that cannot afford ‘big bang’ EPRs.
The team took a co-design approach. The RNOH team members understood what was required to improve patient care, how to engage its clinicians and roll-out new software in the NHS, while in Interneuron they found a partner that understood how to design and build software in a modular and extensible way. They adopted a ‘One Team’ philosophy, agreed on four core principles, and engaged clinicians in the design process.
For each project a clinical lead and an executive sponsor were appointed, with authority for the design delegated to a nominated group. Partnership was key to success of the project, with the project board making sure the design team were empowered to make decisions. The development process increased the digital maturity and confidence of the whole team, making subsequent modules easier to design, develop and implement.
Hertility aims to transform women’s healthcare by pioneering tailored diagnostics and next-generation advancements through predictive algorithms. Focusing on infertility, and by helping women from menstruation to menopause, the company provides people with clear results, tele-consultations, counselling and access to experts.
The Hertility offering includes a simple at-home blood test with actionable advice and a route to care, as well as an online questionnaire that calculates risk for certain pathologies. Created by scientists, the tailored hormone tests enable women to get personalised answers that are unique to their individual health needs. Once a sample has been collected and sent to the labs, the results are compiled into a digital report, which accounts for over 54,000 variables and explains the hormone levels in an understandable way, taking into consideration all lifestyle factors.
Hertility Health has helped over 2,000 women understand their reproductive health and infertility risks and to provide personalised care pathways that help with all aspects of women’s health.
Last, but certainly not least, we also announced our overall winner of the Health Tech Awards 2021.
NHS Shared Business Services and Medway NHS Foundation Trust share this award for their innovative work around NHS staff retention. The two organisations developed a new workforce analytics solution, which uses data science techniques to improve retention by predicting – with 95 per cent accuracy – which individual employees are at increased risk of leaving.
Working with data scientists and workforce experts, the partnership analysed historic data from staff and leavers over a five-year period, with an aim to prove that statistical modelling could be used to accurately predict an employee departure. The model identifies and assigns a weighted numerical risk score to a range of primary and secondary factors, which when combined can determine the probability of an individual leaving.
To increase the accuracy of the predictive analytics, a large number of factors are analysed. These include an employee’s salary, the length of time they have been in their current role, the distance they travel to work, the area they work (e.g. hospital ward), and personal circumstances such as recorded stress or special leave taken.