News in Brief

News in Brief: funding for VR, computer modelling at hospices, remote monitoring pilots

There’s been plenty happening this week in the health tech community – join us for our News in Brief as we take a look at some of the top stories from the past few days.

New funding for virtual reality, robotics and gamification tech at Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt FT

The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has received a £225,000 investment for its specialist Orthopaedic Hospital.

The investment will provide a collection of upper limb rehabilitation equipment, funded by the NHS Commissioners for Spinal Injuries. The collection consists of technology using virtual reality, robotics and gamification. It includes a sensor-based surface tool for creative therapy, a piece of robotics used to improve finger movements and hand therapy, and technology for strengthening shoulder and elbow movement through biofeedback.

“We are all very excited to have the new equipment to use with our patients and we’re already beginning to think of ways it can help other departments and improve patient outcomes,” said Alison Mannion, Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist.

Developing Human Connectome Project researchers develop brain charts spanning human lifetime

A new study published in Nature shows how the human brain expands rapidly in early life and slowly shrinks as we age.

The study comes as a result of research from the Developing Human Connectome Project, through which a team of international researchers created a series of brain charts spanning the human lifetime, from a 15-week-old fetus to a 1oo-year-old adult. The charts are said to bring together ‘possibly the largest MRI datasets ever aggregated’; almost 125,000 brain scans from over 100 different studies.

The charts aim to “create a common language to describe the variability in brain development and maturation” and the research team hope that they will become a routine clinical tool in time. The tool has been created with a reference framework to allow researchers and clinicians to adjust their own datasets and make comparisons.

The research was supported by the British Academy, the Autism Centre of Excellence, the Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), the Wellcome Trust and the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre.

Computer modelling and simulation techniques used to protect hospices 

Results of a study led by Dr Amir Keshmiri, Reader in Computational Fluid Dynamics at the University of Manchester, are being used to help protect hospice patients from COVID-19.

Dr Keshmiri and his team used advanced simulation-design tools to map a ventilation system in ‘The Green’, a large community space within St Richard’s Hospice in Worcestershire. The researchers found that architectural features like pillars and columns as well as the arrangement of furniture can provide disruption to airflow which can potentially influence virus transmission indoors. As such, computer modelling and simulation techniques can be applied in hospices to identify the ‘safest’ parts of a communal area for patients to use.

The work has also provided a new metric to inform architects when they are planning designs of similar care facilities.

“This fascinating project was a great example of where advanced computational models can make a real impact in the fight against COVID-19 and any other future viral infections for some of the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Dr Keshmiri.

NHSE rolls out new wearable glucose monitors to all Type 1 diabetes patients

NHSE is rolling out flash glucose monitors to all patients with Type 1 diabetes across the country as part of the NHS Long Term Plan.

The monitors, which are about the size of a £2 coin, contain a sensor that sits on the arm and allow patients to check their glucose levels through a ‘one-second scan’. Patients will be able to use an app to link the monitors to their phones to access data, enabling them to see current and previous glucose levels, predict rising levels, and view patterns over time.

“This announcement is the biggest step forward for type 1 diabetes care in years,” said Professor Partha Kar, National NHS Specialty Adviser for Diabetes, “allowing everyone eligible to have one of these easy-to-use pieces of tech if they want to.

“These monitors are a win-win. They support diabetes patients to live healthier lives, reduce their risk of hospitalisation while also helping to reduce pressure on NHS services and provide better value for money for taxpayers.” 

Cheshire and Merseyside cyber security work recognised in NHS Digital’s Cyber Associates Network Awards

Two individuals and an organisation within the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership have been recognised for their work in cyber security at NHS Digital’s Cyber Associates Network (CAN) Awards 2022.

Paul Charnley, the Partnership’s former Digital Lead and Chair of the Cheshire and Merseyside Cyber Security Group, won the Cyber Leader of the Year Award for the difference he has made to patient care and his support of his colleagues, along with the Pete Rose Outstanding Achievement Award for his work in developing an ICS-wide cyber security group.

Additionally, Mark Williams, IT Security Consultant at NHS Informatics Merseyside, was highly commended in the Individual of the Year Award category for his hard work and commitment to innovation and improvement.

NHS Informatics Merseyside team won the Innovation in Cyber Award for their creative problem-solving, which has led to significant improvements in patient care.

Remote monitoring capabilities of Docobo tech trialled in East Lincolnshire 

Yorkshire & Humber AHSN has supported the roll out of a new pilot programme trialling the remote monitoring capabilities of Docobo’s DOC@HOME® technology in care homes, working with North East Lincolnshire CCG, NAViGO Health and Social Care CIC, and Living Ambitions.

The technology enables clinicians to remotely monitor individuals whose medication has changed, enabling them to see if any kind of deterioration is detected.

The roll-out of the Docobo solution comes as part of the Joined-Up Care Programme, in order to build upon the digital health progress made during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Humber, Coast and Vale Health and Care Partnership launched their Digital Care Homes project, working in collaboration with Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, to find support for care home staff and residents.