News in Brief

News in Brief: colorectal cancer care data dashboard, NHS App, satellite clone commissioned, virtual work experience

It’s been another busy week for the health tech community. Here at HTN we’ve picked out some of the top stories that caught our eye for our News in Brief – read on to find out what’s been happening.

New data dashboard to improve colorectal cancer care

A new national dashboard has been launched to support clinicians in Wales identify trends in colorectal cancer, allowing them to adjust services where needed.

The National Colorectal Cancer Dashboard uses data from several sources, including the National Bowel Cancer Audit. It was developed in collaboration with the Welsh Value in Health Centre information specialists in Digital Health and Care Wales, the NHS Wales Health Collaborative and clinicians from the Bowel Cancer Initiative.

Clinicians are currently using the dashboard to provide early feedback on capability which will further inform development. The next phase is set to be completed later this year and will add surgical and oncological quality metrics and survival data.

16 million plus prescriptions ordered on NHS App in one year

More than 16 million prescriptions were ordered via the NHS App last year as use rapidly increased through the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, between June 2021 and May 2022, NHS Digital figures show that 1.3 million GP appointments were booked, GP records were viewed more than 90 million times, 277,000 organ donation decisions were registered and more than 22 million NHS App sign-ups were registered.

In June 2022, the App enabled 1.8 million repreat prescriptions to be ordered, 130,000 GP appointments to be booked and 4.8 million GP records to be viewed.

In total, the App has now recorded more than 28 million sign-ups, with over 24 million of those fully verified and able to access a variety of digital healthcare services.

“The NHS App is a great example of how technology is being used to help patients take control of their healthcare in a convenient, secure and timely way,” said Simon Bolton, Interim Chief Executive at NHS Digital. “It’s great to see use of the app continuing to increase, helping millions of people access healthcare services across England directly from their phone.”

NHS Scotland to demonstrate use of artificial intelligence in improving bowel cancer diagnosis

Clinical Capsule Endoscopy (CCE) is currently being rolled out across the NHS in Scotland to support endoscopy service remobilisation following the COVID-19 pandemic. The process uses a ‘smart pill’ containing cameras to help doctors diagnose bowel cancer; the patient swallows the pill and the capsule records images of the intestines as it passes through.

At present, doctors review the images captured by the capsules, but the use of AI will allow the process to be sped up, increasing its use and making it more cost-effective.

A £6 million project, led by the Centre for Clinical Implementation of Capsule Endoscopy at Odense University Hospital in Denmark, will bring together teams from 12 partners from across Europe to explore the use of AI in assisting CCE. The teams will be working towards eliminating the current medical, technical and economic barriers to the adoption of AI-supported Image Analysis in Large Bowel Camera Capsule Endoscopy.

The project will span four years and involves the University of Strathclyde, NHS Highland and Islands along with two of Scotland’s innovation centres, The Data Lab and the Digital Health and Care Innovation Centre.

The £6 million has been funded by a Horizon Europe grant.

Satellite clone commissioned to double data collection capacity

UK firm Satellite Vu has commissioned a new clone of its original satellite in collaboration with Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), in order to double its data collection capacity.

The second thermal imaging satellite will collect thermal data day and night of the natural and built environment at any location on the planet. This will enable the measurement of heat signatures and heat loss in any building in the world.

As such, the satellites will provide real time data-driven climate insights through their capacity to measure the energy efficiency of buildings including hospitals and healthcare settings, along with fire spread predictions and water pollution predictions, multiple times a day.

The second satellite is expected to be launched in early 2024 in response to market demand for greater capacity and more frequent revisit times.

Anthony Baker, Founder and CEO of Satellite Vu, commented: “Environmental issues are at the forefront of everyone’s minds, from governments to businesses to consumers, as we collectively recognise the urgency of creating a green and sustainable future for all.”

Guy’s and St Thomas launch virtual work experience to help students experience NHS careers

Guy’s and St Thomas’ have launched a free virtual work experience programme, funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, which aims to give students a taste of different NHS careers via an interactive online platform. The online platform is hosted by Springpod.

Trust staff have contributed to the content of the programme, which offers more than 10 hours of guided learning across 12 modules. Content includes quizzes, assignments, presentations, activities, live webinars and interview videos.

Courses have already taken place focusing on on pharmacy and allied health professional roles, nursing and midwifery, and admin and clerical roles, with plans to hold more throughout the year. Feedback provided after the nursing and midwifery course found that there was a 21 percent increase in students who felt “very confident” about finding a job in the near future, with 60 percent considering a nursing career afterwards.

The programme is aimed at students in year 10-13 who live in south East London, Kensington and Chelsea, or Hillingdon. More than 1000 students have signed up so far.

New funding set to support North East Innovation Lab in development of new diagnostic 

£218,000 of funding for a consortium project to develop a new diagnostic for the early detection of pancreatic cancer has been awarded to the North East Innovation Lab, part of Newcastle Hospitals.

The award is jointly supported by Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, in collaboration with University College London, University of Bristol, University of Surrey and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

In early stages of pancreatic cancer, biomarkers called ctDNA are released in tiny quantities into the bloodstream, but they are difficult to detect. The project is developing methods to amplify their signal so that they are easier to find. The North East Innovation Lab team will evaluate and verify performance.

Doctors at the Royal Free Hospital in conjunction with University College London have developed an advanced form of imaging which allows clinicians to measure the effectiveness of chemotherapy in patients with stiff heart syndrome.

The National Amyloidosis Centre has been developing and refining Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Extracellular Volume Mapping for amyloid for a number of years, a non-evasive technique to enable clinicians to measure the presence and amount of amyloid. The new technique uses MRI to allow researchers to accurately measure the amount of the protein and to measure the changes in response to chemotherapy on repeat scans, to detect which patients have a better or worse prognosis.

Combining the results with blood tests for the disease, researchers found that almost 40 percent of patients had a substantial improvement in amyloid deposition, showing how effective chemotherapy can be.

Senior author Professor Marianna Fontana, a British Heart Foundation Clinical Fellow, said: “Since MRI scans are widely available, by developing the use of ECV mapping in a machine that already is used for these patients, we hope that its use can be made available to more patients to help improve their care. ”