News, News in Brief

News in brief: AI breast cancer test, stroke support tech in Sussex, simulation hub at HPFT

Find out the latest headlines in health tech, as we round-up recent news from industry, academia and, of course, the NHS.

This week, we catch up on a range of stories covering artificial intelligence (AI) innovation in cancer and stroke care, simulation hubs, an app to support children in Ghana, and a new text messaging service for patients feedback…

Royal Free trials AI breast screening

AI breast cancer tool gets UK and EU certification

The PREM asks eight questions about how staff have engaged with patients and their companions, aiming to find out whether the trust is communicating well with service users.

The trust wants to use the service to find out what works and what has been less helpful for patients during their care journey. Kent and Medway will gather all of the results and analyse them to inform improvements, and will share the anonymised results with care groups and individual service managers.

Hertfordshire’s new simulation hub

Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (HPFT) has announced the launch of a new ‘simulation hub’ and training facility.

The hub places staff in simulated, real-world-style situations, which would typically occur on wards or in the community, alongside trained actors who ‘play’ service users.

According to HPFT, the training provides staff with ‘a safe, judgement-free, practical space that is almost identical to the working environment, recreating the kinds of challenges that can occur in normal day-to-day work’. The new facility will teach practical skills like risk assessment and management, core psychiatry and physical health skills.

HPFT Deputy Chief Executive Karen Taylor, said: “The Simulation Hub is a fantastic example of how we put learning and safety at the heart of everything we do.  I have seen for myself how the interactive, immersive training gives our teams the space to reflect and learn together in a safe and controlled environment. I’m really excited about how this facility and approach will take our learning from incidents and training to a new level across the Trust, supporting our staff to continue to provide the best care for our service users and carers”

The hub is home to a number of dedicated rooms, including clinical skills laboratories, simulation and debrief rooms, and includes hi-fidelity cameras and mannequins.

Barts becomes first to use electric balloon for heart treatment

St Bartholomew’s Hospital, part of Barts Healt NHS Trust, says it has become the first in the UK to introduce electric balloon technology to treat patients with an irregular heart rhythm.

Staff in the hospital’s catheterisation laboratories are using the Heliostar electric balloon, which works by using electrical energy to burn tissues in the heart to return it to a normal rhythm within minutes.

According to Barts, clinicians ‘insert a catheter tube into the heart, which is followed by the balloon’ and ‘shape the balloon into position and it expands up to two centimetres in size…so that it can deliver energy to the connection between the veins and the heart chamber.’

Once inside the veins, ‘an electric conductor in the balloon (an electrode) carries an electric energy into the heart, which clinicians monitor on a screen, allowing them to cauterise (or burn) the abnormal area’, enabling them to stop abnormal tissues from ‘firing off’ in the veins.

Malcolm Finlay, a consultant cardiologist at the Barts Heart Centre, said: “St Bartholomew’s was involved in the early development of this radiofrequency balloon back in February 2018, so it really has come full circle now that we’re the first hospital in the UK to start using it to treat our NHS patients.

“It’s a testament to our great team that such ground-breaking work can take place so seamlessly even after dealing with the pandemic.”

Xploro partners with World Child Cancer on app for children

Health tech company Xploro has been working with World Child Cancer to offer free health app access to children in Ghana.

Xploro will be used on tablet devices, powered with mobile data provided by World Child Cancer, during a two month pilot scheme in a Ghanaian hospital. This will then be followed by a roll-out to more hospitals in the country, as well as at hospitals in Cameroon and Malawi.

It’s expected that the Xploro app will ultimately be available in every country that World Child Cancer has a presence in.

The app, which aims to reduce anxiety in children who are being treated for serious illnesses, has been customised to ‘reflect specific hospital environments, local staff roles and cultural differences such as names’. For example, children from Ghana have been involved in choosing new in-app avatar names.

Xploro’s co-founder and CEO, Dom Raban, said: “This project will have a huge impact, not only on children using Xploro but their families too. Many hospitals in low and middle-income countries are poorly resourced. Clinicians often don’t have the time or materials to explain to children and their families what to expect from a serious illness like cancer, or the implications of its treatment. This can lead to treatment refusal, or abandonment, through misunderstanding and miseducation. “

Professor Lorna Awo Renner, Consultant Paediatric Oncologist and World Child Cancer’s Ghana programme lead, commented: “We are delighted to be able to offer the Xploro app to the children at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital. Being admitted to hospital is often a very frightening and confusing time for families, so having a tool at our disposal to help them make sense of their treatment and diagnosis is invaluable. Through this partnership we hope to reduce the anxiety experienced by children undergoing treatment – encouraging them to learn and have fun in the process.”