News in Brief

News in brief: MS detection tool, online cancer hub, wearables to support communication and more

Let’s take a look at some of recent stories across the health tech community. This week, we’re taking a look at some digital news from NHS trusts in Leeds, Sunderland, London and Barnsley.

Multiple sclerosis detection tool invented in Leeds

Staff at Leeds Teaching Hospitals have developed a new tool which uses 3d motion technology to capture finger and wrist markers in patients with multiple sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s or Motor Neurone Disease.

Professor Helen Ford, consultant neurologist and research lead for neurosciences, commented that the device could have “significant applications in both research trials and clinical settings”, and could also be useful for rehabilitation “as it provides a much better understanding of arm function. Physiotherapists and occupational therapists can monitor improvement, deterioration and the value of different approaches.”

It is hoped that the tool will assist clinicians in helping to identify treatments for patients with these diseases.

South Tyneside and Sunderland shares update on online cancer hub

This month, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust has marked the first anniversary of its Cancer Information Hub, designed to help patients and those supporting them to access information about all aspects of cancer online.

The trust has highlighted a range of content that can be found on the hub, including video tours of hospitals to help people prepare for a visit; information on topics such as care and treatment, nutrition and how to handle fears; podcasts; and over 50 films on a range of subjects. The hub also explores issues around health inequalities, with information tailored to the Black, Asian and minority ethnic community.

Since its launch a year ago, the hub’s pages have been viewed more than 14,000 times.

Barnsley Hospital on digital updates to patient letters and NHS App 

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has announced that as of this month, patients will receive a digital copy of their outpatient clinic outcome letter, replacing the paper version previously issued.

The letters will have been created using a digital dictation system and will be available via the patient portal, which will also allow patients to view a history of previous clinic outcome letters.

In addition, the trust has shared that along with using the NHS App for tasks such as booking appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions, patients over 16 under the care of an acute hospital are now able to view referrals and future hospital appointments in one place; access supporting information to help prepare for appointments; view a single point of contact for appointments; complete questionnaires; receive notifications and messages; and access documents such as letters and discharge summaries.

KCL develops wearable devices to support people with communication impairments 

Researchers from King’s College London (KCL) have developed a range of prototype tools designed empower communities with communication impairments.

Co-designed alongside focus groups of individuals with complex communication needs, the team has developed wearable augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) prototypes.

It is hoped that the wearable devices could be used along traditional therapies, with KCL noting that tradition devices can often “inhibit vital forms of non-verbal communication like body language and are generally stigmatised because of how visible they are, causing anxiety when faced with social pressures”.

“The team ultimately hope as discreet and wearable technologies become more unobtrusive, immersive and intelligent, these ‘smart’ devices will increasingly be leveraged to support people with disabilities,” KCL adds.