News in Brief

News in brief: VR facility walkthrough in Staffordshire, wearables monitoring fatigue, XVIVO Heartbox used for transplant, and Versius robot undertakes thoracic surgery

Here are a few of the headlines from the health tech community that have caught our eye recently.

North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust presents VR walkthrough of new facilities

North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust has presented a virtual reality (VR) tour of their new facilities, which are being delivered through Project Chrysalis as the result of “the biggest single capital investment at Combined Healthcare since the creation of Harplands Hospital”.

The trust says that the VR walkthrough is intended to help staff, stakeholders, service users and families can experience Project Chrysalis for themselves. Eric Gardiner, chief finance officer at Combined Healthcare and the senior responsible owner of the project, said: “It’s great to see these brand new, state-of-the-art facilities starting to be delivered for the people of Stoke-on-Trent and North Staffordshire.  The partnership working between everyone involved in getting us to this day has been nothing short of first class.   This is just the first stage in a project that will continue to deliver throughout the next two years – to July 2025.

“At Combined Healthcare, we have always said that our aim is to continue to be outstanding – in all we do and how we do it.  The unveiling of the first of these new facilities is further positive proof that our commitment to excellence and quality remains at the core of our vision.”

To view the VR walkthrough, please click here.

Wearable tech at Newcastle Hospitals to monitor fatigue and disturbed sleep in patients with chronic disease

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has shared results into a study aiming to develop a better insight into fatigue and disturbed sleep in chronic disease patients through the use of wearable technology.

The study involved patients with neurodegenerative and inflammatory diseases. As symptom monitoring usually relies on self-reporting questionnaires, and as such dependent upon patient memory and accurate reporting, the study saw the implementation of small wearable devices called VitalPatch; a 12cm-long biosensor that “adheres to the skin and is worn on the left side of the chest”. This device then records heart rate, the millisecond intervals between heartbeats, breathing rate, and other relevant data, which is then encrypted and uploaded to a cloud-based platform. The VitalPatch was able to monitor physiological signals throughout the day, over a period of four weeks.

The researchers said that the biosensor was able to reveal information that participants were unable to record. “For example, after six minutes of light exercise (for example having a walk), biosensor data showed the significant difference in heartrate recovery between healthy people and those with a chronic disease. This can be an important predictor of certain factors that can lead to fatal health events, for example a heart attack.”

Professor Fai Ng, honorary consultant rheumatologist at Newcastle Hospitals, commented that “studying fatigue and disturbed sleep could be the first step in creating a ‘digital biomarker’ for these symptoms that are relevant to many chronic diseases”.

Donor heart transported with the XVIVO Heartbox

A patient receiving treatment at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has received a donor heart transported using the XVIVO Heartbox, which is hoped to improve heart function after surgery and increase the number of successful transplants by enabling the preservation of the heart for longer than the usual four-hour limit.

Professor Stephen Clark, consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at Newcastle Hospitals, described how it is vital during transportation to keep the heart preserved at a certain temperature to give the transplant the best chance of succeeding. “The trial of this new machine allows us to explore an entirely new method of heart preservation where the heart is kept still, cool and perfused with an oxygenated solution mixed with blood throughout its journey,” he said.

Described as “a portable machine perfusion device with a special pump that is connected to the donor heart”, the pump delivers a solution containing oxygen and nutrients to the heart during its journey to the hospital. By keeping the heart still and cold, “it consumes less oxygen and loses less energy, helping to keep it in better condition”.

The trust is taking part in a European clinical trial as one of three sites in the UK and one of 15 European sites trialling the XVIVO Heartbox.

Robotic thoracic surgery at Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Following on from our article at the beginning of May on the exciting introduction of Versius, a robot for thoracic surgery, Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has shared the news that Versius has performed its first thoracic surgery on a woman who had the middle lobe of her right lung removed due to a benign tumour.

Royal Papworth says that  Versius allows for thoracic surgeries to be performed less invasively, “improving outcomes and recovery times for patients across the East of England and reducing their length of stay in hospital”. The hospital reports that the patient was discharged only three nights after her operation, and was able to return to work less than three weeks later.

Adam Peryt, consultant thoracic surgeon and clinical lead for thoracic surgery, commented on the experience of conducting the surgery using Versius: “Using the Versius robot is very exciting for us and completely different to what we’ve done in the past. As a surgeon we see everything in 3D which is new, so it really feels like you’re inside the chest.