A new lab has been opened by the University of Gloucestershire and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, to “explore how innovations like wearable technology and artificial intelligence can be used to help the NHS”.
The Health Innovation Lab aims to help solve large-scale challenges facing the NHS, including waiting lists, information sharing and access to health professionals. The overarching mission is to “build an ecosystem of healthcare partners, industry partners and healthcare start-ups to develop, integrate and commercialise digital solutions that drive the digital transformation of healthcare within Gloucestershire.”
Focus areas include the ‘front door’ (working on ensuring that only patients requiring urgent care present at A&E); ‘back door’ (using digital healthcare interventions to eliminate additional bed stays once the acute care episode has been completed); workforce (using digital health to ensure staff feel safe coming into work and can report incidents of discrimination); bariatric care (working to reduce the failure rate of bariatric surgery patients once the initial two-year follow-up period ends); and health inequalities.
The lab is working with partners including Google, AstraZeneca, GE Healthcare, AHSN West of England, IQVIA, City University, Gloucestershire County Council, Amazon, GSK, The Evidence Quarter and the Department of Business and Trade.
Claire Richardson, commercial director at the trust, stated that the Lab’s first priority will be to help with the bed blocking crisis and facilitate the movement of patients through hospitals. She noted: “We’re hoping with this unique collaboration we’ll actually get some real traction and be able to make a positive difference.”
Wearable technology will be used to remotely monitor health conditions, with the aim of helping to avoid risk of cross-infection on wards. In addition, it is hoped that use of artificial intelligence will assist in identifying trends and patterns.
Alex Cottrell, manager of the growth hub at the University of Gloucestershire, commented: “We all adore the NHS and we’re so grateful for it, but I think everyone can see the challenges. I am hoping that the lab becomes an exemplar for what can happen throughout the rest of the country.” She added that she hopes that the project will have a “profound” impact on NHS efficiency.
Dr Polly Pick, the university’s director of business engagement and partnership, added: “Through collaboration and a systems-based approach, the Lab will tackle pressing issues like the ‘front door’ problem, ultimately creating a sustainable, patient-centric healthcare ecosystem.”
More information on the Lab can be found here.