News, News in Brief

News in brief: £55m EPR contract awarded, VR doctor teamworking, deep learning tools

The HTN team is welcoming in the New Year with what we love the most – the latest health tech news and events.

There’s lots in-store across January, including a day we are dedicating to digital mental health topics at our first HTN Now Focus event of 2022. Later in the month, we also host our first multi-day HTN Now series of the year, which will take place from 17 to 20 January and features a host of live webcasts and presentations from health tech experts. Stay tuned for the release of the agenda this week and pop those dates in your diary!

Away from HTN HQ, health tech has had a hectic festive period, so we round up any news bites that you may have missed.

So, brew a coffee, take a five-minute break and enjoy our first news in brief of 2022…

Cerner secures £55m NHS EPR contract

The health tech company Cerner has been awarded a 10-year contract extension worth £55 million, for its Electronic Patient Record (EPR) solutions for St George’s  University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The new contract starting 17 January 2022, will see the supplier cover areas such as maintenance, remote hosting, support and upgrades to the existing Cerner platform, with the aim of bringing ‘further shared functionality’ for an Integrated Care System (ICS). This will include work on services such as Population Health Management, Patient Administration System, Accident and Emergency, and theatres.

Cerner’s previous contract with the trust had been due to expire in 2024 and, according to the tender information, the IT giants have also been successful in a ‘mini competition under the Clinical and Digital Information Systems Framework’ to supply the ‘same services on a shared domain’ to Epsom and St. Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Health Education England’s (HEE) SuppoRTT team has developed virtual reality (VR) teamworking resources to support doctors who are returning to training.

The collection of three resources are intended to assist with the training of doctors who are specialising in medicine, surgery and paediatrics, with an overall focus on teamworking topics.

In all of the 360-degree VR scenarios, learners can experience a busy ward environment, where they will have the opportunity to work with colleagues and practice their communication and leadership skills in a ‘safe, virtual environment’, which can be accessed through PC, tablet and smartphone browsers, or a VR headset.

Described as an ‘immersive technology resource’, the simulations are paired with guidance in the form of a user manual and can be used in conjunction with the SuppoRTT team’s catalogue of teamworking resources through the Learning Hub.

A video about the VR support available can be watched through HEE’s YouTube channel.

Navenio lands £9.3m investment 

Navenio, a health and location tech scaleup, which is also an Oxford University spin-out, has secured a £9.3m funding investment to support its workforce efficiency plans and expansion into the US, as well as domestic growth.

The funding round was led by Oxford Science Enterprises, and existing investors such as QBN Capital, Big Pi Ventures, Future Planet Capital, G.K Goh, Hostplus, Oxford Investment Consultants, IP Group, and the University of Oxford, were among the participants.

It’s hoped that the funding will help to deliver the company’s ‘long term vision’ to bring ‘the benefits of indoor location to everyone, everywhere’ through ‘infrastructure-free indoor location solutions’. These are described as being the equivalent of indoor GPS and can power a range of apps and platforms, including within the healthcare sector.

Niki Trigoni, Founder and CTO of Navenio, said: “I’m delighted our investors have again demonstrated their belief in the vast potential that Navenio can bring by ensuring ‘right person, right place, right time’. Artificial intelligence is one of many technologies making a real-world impact in the health sector, and this investment enables the company to rapidly spearhead international digital transformation.”

Navenio has also recently been awarded funding from NHSX, through its AI in Health and Care Award, and is currently developing a nationally scalable evidence base to ‘further support improved patient flow’.

AutoProstate developed to generate prostate cancer diagnostic reports

Researchers from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences at King’s College London have developed a tool called AutoProstate, which uses deep learning to generate automatic reports which can help radiologists to identify and diagnose prostate cancers ‘with greater accuracy’.

According to King’s, current clinical pathways can lead to missed cancers and unnecessary biopsies, while there are also concerns around shortages of specialist radiologists.

The researchers behind AutoProstate, which is described as a ‘deep learning-powered framework for automatic prostate cancer assessment and reporting’, believe artificial intelligence could improve diagnostic accuracy and help to alleviate pathway pressures.

Through patient scans, the new technology will ‘segment the whole prostate, the prostate’s zonal anatomy, and any clinically significant tumours that are present’, before generating a report.

Mr Pritesh Mehta, lead researcher, said: “AutoProstate will help radiologists detect prostate cancers earlier, which will save lives. Most men who receive an early diagnosis of prostate cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared to only half of men who receive a late-stage diagnosis.

“The automatic report generated by AutoProstate will provide radiologists with additional information at the time of diagnosis, helping to improve diagnostic accuracy, save time, and enhance reporting quality.”

£1m grant for automatic brain abnormality detection tool

In more deep learning tool news from King’s College London, researchers from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences have also been awarded a £1 million grant to develop a clinically validated decision making tool for MRI scans.

The award arrives from the Medical Research Council Development Pathway Funding Scheme (MRC DPFS), and researchers are tasked with creating a deep learning tool that can ‘automatically identify all abnormalities on brain MRI scans’ and ‘enable immediate automated triage of abnormalities matching that of a consultant neuroradiologist’.

King’s says that ‘330,000 patients may wait more than 30 days for their MRI reports in the UK’ and cites ‘UK-specific workforce shortages in radiology’ as an area of concern. It’s hoped that this project could be a ‘strong first step towards automating the triage process’ and potentially reducing wait times and pressures.

“Detecting illnesses earlier in the patient pathway would result in lower costs for the healthcare system given that less specialised medicine, and fewer hours of treatment, are needed for patient recovery,” said Dr Tom Booth, Senior Lecturer in Neuroimaging at the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences and Consultant Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiologist at King’s.

St Guy’s and St Thomas’ introduce new robot tech

St Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust believe their staff are the first in the UK to use a Versius robot for a prostate removal.

The trust says it is also the first in London to adopt the technology, which was designed and built by the company CMR Surgical. The new surgical robotic system was used to remove the prostate gland of a patient who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

Through the technology, individual robotic arms can be moved between hospital sites and departments and perform a number of different procedures.

During a procedure, surgeons can control the robotic instruments while ‘sitting at an open console in the same room with a 3D HD view’ and use a ‘small camera on the end of one arm to see inside the patient’.

The robot is helping surgeons to perform prostate and kidney removals, pyeloplasty reconstruction and adrenal surgery, and there are further plans to use the system for colorectal and general surgeries in the future.

Prokar Dasgupta, who led the operation at Guy’s and St Thomas’, and who is an honorary consultant urological surgeon and a professor of surgery at King’s Health Partners, said: “We have pioneered the use of robotic technology in the UK. Adding Versius to our robotic surgery programme means that even more patients can now benefit from faster recovery times, less time in hospital and reduced risk of infection. This is particularly important as the NHS tries to treat as many patients as it can at this busy time.”