News, News in Brief

News in brief: ‘DadPad’ app available, RCN’s online diabetes resource, new platform for Nottingham

There’s been plenty of health tech news to share across the last seven days, including updates in the world of data and numerous industry developments.

Highlights include the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust selecting the Agilisys platform to develop its analytics capabilities, while Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has signed up to a data sharing collaboration with Rinicare, and the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust has published a report on an analysis of hospital admission data used to develop a predictive tool.

From a supplier perspective, Graphnet Health has acquired the remote patient monitoring specialist Docobo, and NHS London Procurement Partnership’s Digital Documents Solutions framework has also been revealed.

But what other innovations, apps and ideas from health tech have caught our eye recently? Read on to find out…

‘DadPad’ available to download

Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is promoting an app called the ‘DadPad’, which acts as an ‘essential guide’ for new dads and dads-to-be.

The free application, which is available to download on mobiles and smart tablets through app store or Google Play, covers a range of topics and areas such as feeding, holding, changing and cleaning a baby, home safety, first aid, how to cope with a lack of sleep, what to do when your baby cries, and how to look after the wellbeing of yourself and your partner.

After installing the app, which has the tagline ‘because babies don’t come with a set of instructions’, new fathers can simply enter their postcode and select their own local area or hospital.

Find out more, here.

New Google AI project for people with speech impairments

Google AI is working on a new project called ‘Project Relate’, which aims to test a new Android app that could help people with speech impairments to communicate more easily with others and with Google Assistant.

Based on research from Google’s Speech and Research teams, the project is now at the stage of seeking English speakers in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States to try the app and provide user feedback.

Participants will be asked to record a set of phrases and the app will use these to try to better understand individuals’ unique speech patterns. It will also provide users with access to a set of features, including: the ‘Listen’ option, which transcribes speech into text in real-time, allowing for reading or copy-paste text into other apps; a ‘Repeat’ feature to restate speech using a synthesised voice, intended for support in face-to-face conversations and use of home assistant devices; and the ‘Assistant’ function, which allows direct communication with a user’s Google Assistant.

Royal United Hospitals introduces app for children with diabetes

The Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust (RUH) has launched a new app for children with diabetes, called My Life.

Aimed at children with type 1 diabetes, the app calculates the precise dose of insulin needed, and takes into account blood glucose measurements and planned food and drink.

Patients check their blood sugar as normal – through either a finger prick check or sensor – and add their result into the app, as well as their planned carbohydrate intake, to find out exactly how much insulin they need to inject. Additionally, the app also updates the trust’s records too, so that patient data can be reviewed by clinicians with the aim of making improvements to care and condition management.

So far, around 170 RUH patients aged up to the age of 18, are using the app, which was made by diabetes specialists Ypsomed after work from the trust’s paediatric diabetes team. Support for those facing digital barriers includes face-to-face tutorials and funding from RUH’s charity The Forever Friends Appeal to source suitable phones for families who cannot afford one.

Consultant Paediatrician Lynn Diskin said: “The best thing about the app is how easy it is for young people and their families. Being diagnosed with lifelong diabetes is hard enough, so being able to use the app to manage insulin calculations is fantastic. We have had really positive feedback, and teenagers especially tell us that they really like that everything is all in one place on their phone.”

RCN shares online diabetes learning resource

Sticking with the topic of diabetes, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) last week released an online diabetes resource, called Diabetes Essentials, to coincide with the recent World Diabetes Day.

RCN says that the tool ‘provides an overview of diabetes care from beginning to end’ and is ‘designed to support all nursing staff to develop their knowledge of diabetes mellitus in adults and contribute to safe, compassionate care’.

As well as providing guidance on prevention, symptoms, treatment and complications, the interactive digital pack, which is available to all nurses, also signposts users to other resources and case studies.

RCN notes that the resource, which has been created by the RCN Diabetes Forum, can be used ‘as evidence of self-directed learning for NMC [Nursing and Midwifery] revalidation’ and ‘allows for flexible and targeted learning’.

Sonia Wijesundare, Chair of the forum, said: “We hope this resource will allow nursing staff from across different roles and settings to increase their knowledge of all aspects of diabetes and contribute to the care given to patients living with the condition.”

Biotech spinout lands £185 million in investment

Autolus, a University College London (UCL) biotech spinout which is described as being ‘dedicated to developing methods of re-programming the immune system to target and kill cancer’, has raised $250 million (£185 million) from Blackstone Life Sciences.

The funding will be used to support Autolus’ advancement of its ‘CD19 CAR T-cell investigational candidate’ and ‘next generation product therapies’ for treating leukaemia.

Dr Martin Pule, an academic clinical haematologist and pioneer in T-cell engineering based at the UCL Cancer Institute, said: “The UCL CAR T cell programme is at the cutting edge of cell-based cancer treatments. Partnerships with industry allow us to progress our technology to larger confirmatory clinical studies and onwards to changing clinical practise.”

NUH picks Tisski to design patient accelerator

Nottingham University Hospitals (NUH) NHS Trust has chosen the tech solution provider Tisski to design, develop and deploy a patient accelerator which it hopes will improve referrals and financial management processes for its Private Patient and Overseas Visitors unit.

Built on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, the aim is to avoid losses on the treatment of private patients, and allow for a ‘single view’ of patients’ current status and interactions with the trust.

Dr Sameedha Rich-Mahadkar, Deputy Director of Strategy Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The trust has an ambition to deliver outstanding health outcomes and patient and staff experience across all it services and therefore requires a robust system in order to support the administrative process associated with their private patients and overseas visitors’ service provision.

“The team at Tisski has helped us explore the art of the possible, and together, we have built a system that will deliver benefits to our patients, the trust and the tax payer.”

It is hoped that Phase 2 will allow the trust to further develop the solution into a fully integrated system.

Anna Assassa, CEO, Tisski, said: “The need for improved patient management and the pressure on NHS trusts’ budgets is well documented. We have taken multiple legacy systems and processes and built a platform that is completely integrated, allowing NUH to have a clear, on demand view of their private patients and overseas visitors.

“This single view will provide for a better experience for patients and purchasing organisations, such as insurance companies, whilst reducing the burden on NHS staff and giving the trust the ability to accurately report on key performance indicators and use data for future business planning.”

Somerset Council promotes alcohol monitoring app

Somerset Council is promoting the drinking app Try Dry on Twitter, to encourage people to monitor their own alcohol consumption and its impact on those around them.

The alcohol tracking app is available to download for free in app stores. The interactive tool says on its website that it want to help users ‘drink more healthily’ and support people to meet their goals around cutting down consumption or going alcohol-free.

The application can help users track their units, calories and money saved by not drinking, as well as to monitor their progress, understand their own drinking patterns, and take quizzes.

Find out more about the Try Dry: the Dry January app, through the charity Alcohol Change UK.