News in Brief

News in Brief: Boots support largest UK research programme, NHS Digital community, virtual pods supporting eye care, virtual training for ambulance staff and more

It’s time for another news in brief, a chance for us to highlight some of the health tech stories that have caught our eye over the past few days.

Here’s what’s been happening…

Moorfields Eye Hospital supports patients with virtual pods 

In mid-July Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust will provide opportunities for patients with concerns about their sight to visit virtual pods in order to access support.

Patients with concerns such as sudden sight loss or eye injury will be able to visit Moorfields Brent Cross and use the virtual pods to log in to Moorfields’ online A&E service between 10am and 4pm, with volunteers on hand to help patients use the service.

The online A&E can also be accessed from home, with the virtual pods set up to provide assistance for those who require support with using the system or accessing the necessary technology.

Oto announces £2.78 million investment for tinnitus solution

UK digital health company Oto has announced £2.78 million seed investment in funding for their tinnitus solution.

With tinnitus affecting up to one in seven people around the world and no available cure, Oto’s founding team developed a support programme via mobile app to manage the condition, based on clinical and personal experience of tinnitus.

Co-founder Doctor Ed Farrar commented: “As a chronic condition that is not well understood and has no known cure, the impact of tinnitus can be far reaching for those affected by it, which makes this raise incredibly important to us. Achieving an oversubscribed round at any time is a huge achievement and something we’re immensely proud of. However, against the backdrop of the investment downturn, founding teams have to be more intentional about how funding is used.

“For us, this means doubling down on achieving precision product market fit to accelerate towards profitability by ensuring that the products we’re developing directly address the needs of what is an incredibly underserved community.”

NHS Digital launches practice manager community

NHS Digital has launched a community for practice managers to engage with each other and share experiences on their use of digital and data.

“We want to better understand why and how you use data and digital services,” NHS Digital state on the website, “what this means for how you interact with us and where there might be opportunities to improve your experience.”

The community is also intended for use as a forum, providing a space for practice managers to hold discussions on key topics and areas of interest.

The platform is open across England and can be accessed here.

Boots support Our Future Health to deliver UK’s largest health research programme

Our Future Health aims to create a highly detailed picture of people’s health by combining health data and biological samples from up to five million volunteers across the UK.

From this week, retailer Boots invites volunteers to take part in the research programme at their stores in Birmingham, Bradford, Central London and Manchester.

After receiving information about Out Future Health, volunteers will give consent to join the research programme and provide access to their health records, complete a questionnaire and book into one of the four Boots stores supporting this pilot phase. At their appointments, a blood sample will be taken along with physical measurements. The data will be held securely and anonymised, with volunteers given the opportunity to provide feedback and also to take part in more studies in the future.

“By ensuring that a diverse range of people participate in Our Future Health, we can make discoveries that benefit everyone. ” said Doctor Raghib Ali OBE, Chief Medical Officer of Our Future Health. “Having an opportunity for volunteers to join us via their local Boots store will make it easier and more accessible than ever before for people from all walks of life to take part in health research.”

Hexham General Hospital in Northumbria introduces hip replacement robot

Hexham General Hospital has become one of five facilities in the country to introduce a new surgical robot as part of a medical trial into hip replacement surgery.

The RACER-Hip Study is jointly led by Warwick Medical School and the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, with robot manufacturer Stryker supporting study costs for the hospitals.

The installation of the robot marks the first time this service has become available for NHS hip operations in North East. Patients will be randomised to have their hip replacement by robot or human surgeon to find out which surgical technique results in better outcomes.

“The Mako robot aims to increase the accuracy of the hip replacements that we carry out, as they can be positioned to within a millimetre and a degree,” said Tim Petheram, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Northumbria Healthcare. “For patients, we hope that this means that they feel better with their hip replacements and that they will last longer and have fewer complications or issues. We’re confident that it is safe and installs the replacements more accurately than the human equivalent, but what we don’t know is the effect it has on patient outcomes so the study will track progress at regular intervals up to 10 years after their operation.”

Kingston Hospital NHS Trust seek EPR for Assisted Conception Unit IT System

Kingston Hospital NHS Foundation Trust are looking to procure a new supplier to provide a modern electronic patient record (EPR) system for its Assisted Conception Unit.

Through the procurement, the trust aims to improve the service they provide for patients in their Assisted Conception Unit department.

The unit provides a number of services including egg collections, embryo transfers and clinical pregnancies.

The trust are seeking a supplier to contract for 60 months from the commencement date, with 36 initial months and the option to extend the contract twice for a period of 12 months.

State-of-the-art education facility to support London Ambulance Services in recruitment and training

A new £7 million education facility has been opened in Brentside which will allow London Ambulance Service to increase recruitment and boost training for frontline medics and control room staff.

The facility includes an ambulance simulation suite known as the ‘simbulance’, which provides immersive virtual training for students to gain experience of driving and operating an ambulance on busy roads. London driving conditions are replicated through projection and sound, and the suite features high-tech, life-like mannequin patients to record how effectively students perform CPR and patient observations.

“We are embarking on the most ambitious recruitment programme our service has ever seen, and our fantastic new Brentside Education Centre will play a pivotal role in this plan by training hundreds of new operational recruits to the very highest standard each year,” said Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive. “The ground-breaking technology and excellent quality of teaching at our Brentside site will help us create a new pipeline of homegrown London talent to fill a variety of operational roles at LAS, both on the frontline and in our control rooms.”

New pathology laboratory takes shape for Leeds Teaching Hospitals 

Construction has begun on a new laboratory for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which will support the delivery of pathology services across the region as part of the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Pathology Network.

The trust “aims to develop a world-class pathology building that is flexible, digital by design and that supports the delivery of net zero carbon. It will aim to be fully mechanically ventilated with heat recovery and systems to minimise power and re-use heat.”

In addition, it will use a shared Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) for the area, meaning that test requests can be ordered and tracked and results reported electronically to clinical services across West Yorkshire and Harrogate.

X-ray technology to improve patient care at Kettering General Hospital

Kettering General Hospital has updated two of its x-ray rooms in order to incorporate new technology in order to see patients more quickly and achieve higher quality diagnostic images.

The two Fujifilm machines replaced old machines at risk of breakdown and “will help the hospital to improve the way it delivers some of the 50,000 of x-ray investigations it does for patients each year.”

Kettering’s Deputy Head of Radiology, Neil Baxter, commented: “The new machines have both fixed plate digital x-ray plates and large and small moveable ones. This gives us greater flexibility than we had before enabling a better range of x-rays of different body parts to be done in both main x-ray and A&E. For example the smaller plates can be easily carried across the hospital, used in our neonatal unit to x-ray premature babies, and then downloaded back in the radiology department.”