News, News in Brief

News in Brief: tender opens for digital nursing data, call for GPs to share remote triage experiences

At HTN this week we’ve covered a range of stories – from a report into interoperable health records and AI research for children’s mental health, through to a health app in Rotherham – but we’re not done yet.

Here’s our round-up of the rest of the headlines from across health tech…

Tender opens for Digital Nursing Minimum Data Set Discovery

NHS England has opened a tender for a ‘Digital Nursing Minimum Data Set Discovery’ and is seeking a supplier who has ‘expertise in carrying out extensive research and a clinical background with experience in health informatics’.

The work is set to involve ‘researching similar data sets which exist globally, with a key focus on how data is populated, what is collected in the data set and the governance agreements in place’.

The 10-day contract – which closes to applications at 12pm on 21 February 2022 – is valued at up to £100,000 and is due to begin on 21 March 2022.

Find out more about the tender, here.

Wexham Park pharmacy recruits dispensing robots

Wexham Park Hospital’s pharmacy department – part of the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust – is installing two new robotic systems to speed up prescription processing and manage medications on the wards.

As well as supporting medicines dispensing, the new robotic arrivals will help manage stock and out-of-hours requests. It’s hoped that once the installation of the technology is complete – which is expected to be at the end of February – the systems will help save valuable time for both pharmacy and nursing staff.

One system will be set up in the main pharmacy dispensary for patient prescriptions, and will be able to dispense around 100 items per hour, delivering medication within seconds of a request. While the second system will be housed in pharmacy stores to manage medication, and will be ‘capable of processing up to 2,000 items per hour’.

Dennis Lauder, Chief Pharmacist, said: “This is one of the biggest projects I’ve been involved in during my 20 years at the trust. It’s unprecedented that a system of this magnitude has taken just four months to get from the planning stages to where we are today.”

Imperial to utilise data to improve ovarian cancer outcomes

Doctors from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are using data analysis to provide ‘key insights’ that could help improve the diagnosis and treatment ovarian cancer.

Imperial Health Charity is funding the work through the Innovate at Imperial grant, and the project will involve using ‘advanced data analysis techniques on anonymised patient data’ from trust systems.

The analysis will be used to ‘identify trends’ – including the characteristics of ovarian cancer cases, and whether different demographics such as age, ethnicity or geographical location indicate inequalities in diagnosis, treatment or management of the disease –  as well as how to ‘improve patient care pathways and display this information to healthcare staff in near real-time’.

Dr Laura Tookman, the project lead, commented: “There is a wealth of patient data already captured in NHS systems that has the potential to give us hugely important insights into a variety of health conditions. In the case of ovarian cancer, where symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from other diseases and so diagnosis can come very late, this data has the real potential to make a difference.”

New VR tech to repair hearts

Virtual Reality (VR) technology could be used to help repair hearts by helping to shorten operating times and potentially reducing the need for multiple surgeries.

Researchers from the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences at King’s College London (KCL) have worked with colleagues at Evelina London Children’s Hospital and used scans to create a ‘three-dimensional, beating digital double of the heart’.

With funding from the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the researchers have also been able to add two more types of scans into the system – computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which can usually only be viewed on a flat screen.

It’s hoped that the VR will help with the planning and practice of procedures, leading to better outcomes for patients – and that it could be in regular use within the next two years.

According to KCL, the tech allows surgeons to be ‘immersed into the heart’ and ‘interact with and manipulate the images however they like’, as well as to test options for a procedure beforehand.

Lead researcher Professor John Simpson, Professor of Paediatric and Fetal Cardiology at Evelina London and King’s College London, said: “Procedures to repair the heart’s anatomy can be complex, and surgeons don’t like surprises. Our technology will allow surgeons to plan and practice these procedures, and we’re currently applying for approval for it to be used in this way.”

Survey to inform staff training in remote triage and digital tools

NHS England (NHSE) and Health Education England (HEE) are calling for primary care staff to help shape future workforce training by filling out a new survey about their experiences of remote triage and digital tools.

The results will be used to inform staff training and the survey is open to ‘anyone working in a clinical or non-clinical role in general practice or a primary care network in England, including reception, administrative and practice management staff’.

The purpose is to gather information about regular tasks and different roles, as well as the training staff have already received or would like to receive, to help design further training on the delivery remote and online services, and telephone and video consultations.

Find out more about the survey, here.

Numan raises $20M debt funding from Kreos Capital

The digital healthcare company Numan has raised $20M in debt funding from growth debt investor, Kreos Capital – with the capital set to be used to accelerate growth, expand internationally and to launch new therapeutic areas in men’s health.

Numan, which provides men with direct online access to medical professionals, prescription medication, at-home blood testing, and holistic health advice, has also completed a $60.1M Series B round, which was led by White Star Capital, with participation from Novator, VNV Global, and Anthemis Exponential.

With this additional funding, the company says it plans to ‘accelerate’ its development, industry partnerships and build on the ‘strong momentum’ that saw the company grow revenue by a rate of 190 per cent since its Series A.

Sokratis Papafloratos, CEO and founder of Numan commented: “This most recent funding round is a significant milestone on our journey to help millions of men take better care of themselves. We are delighted to be working with Kreos Capital alongside our wider team of brilliant investors and look forward to this next stage of accelerating Numan’s plans.”

Dxcover secures US patent for cancer diagnostic devices

Dxcover Limited, a company which develops liquid biopsies for the early detection of cancer, has secured US patents for its Dxcover® Autosampler and the Dxcover® Brain Cancer Liquid Biopsy.

The Glasgow-based company has developed an ‘alternative approach to traditional blood sampling liquid biopsy’ by using ‘attenuated total reflection via infrared light’. Combined with machine learning algorithms, the technique analyses the ‘whole molecular composition of a blood sample, allowing for earlier diagnosis for patients’.

Securing the US patent is seen as a ‘major milestone’ and reaffirms Dxcover’s ‘ambitions for US expansion’.

Matthew Baker, Chief Technology Officer at Dxcover, said: “While minimally invasive liquid biopsy analysis is a powerful tool in the detection and diagnosis of cancer, most target specific genetic material, such as circulating tumor DNA. However, this approach is limited for early-stage tumor detection due to the low abundance of cancerous genetic material, which is diminished further in brain cancers by the blood-brain barrier. Our test allows us to detect these cancers at a much earlier stage, giving patients the best possible chance at recovery.”

Mark Hegarty, CEO of Dxcover, added: “The Dxcover platform will help clinicians detect cancer earlier, improving treatment plans, surgical outcomes, patient prognosis and quality of life. We see this technology as the future of cancer diagnostics, providing a range of first-line tests to assist clinicians in making everyday count in the fight against cancer and other diseases.”

New ‘state-of-the-art’ Research Van for Greater Manchester

And finally, the first participants have taken part in a study onboard a new ‘state-of-the-art’ Research Van in Greater Manchester.

Described as a ‘one-stop mobile facility’ by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the vehicle will support the ‘delivery of research projects at community locations across the region’, following a successful ‘dry run’ at its Wythenshawe Hospital base.

Research teams from healthcare organisations across Greater Manchester, East Cheshire and East Lancashire are all welcomed to submit expressions of interest in the NIHR van.

The Research Van, believed to be only the second of its kind in the UK, has been designed to ‘deliver care and widen opportunities to be part of research’. The initiative has been initially funded with a grant from the UK government Vaccine Task Force, following a successful bid from NIHR Clinical Research Network Greater Manchester (CRN). It will be managed by the NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility (CRF), with support from the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, which are both hosted by Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT).

Sasi Neelamekam, Quality Lead at NIHR Manchester Clinical Research Facility, stated: “We’ve had a steady stream of participants who were all trust staff taking part in a study as part of our ‘dry run’.

“They were all really excited to get inside and see what the van is like, and that has made us feel even more positive. They think it looks fabulous and they can see the amazing potential the van has to take studies into the community and make research even more inclusive.”