News in Brief

News in brief: virtual tours for patients with additional needs at Solent NHS, miniature pacemaker implanted in Southampton, and more

Let’s look into some of the health tech news stories which have caught our eye over the last few weeks.

Virtual tours for patients with additional needs at Solent NHS Trust’s Special Care Dental Service

Solent NHS Trust has partnered with Autek CIC, an “inclusive technology company”, to introduce virtual tours for service users with additional needs within the trust’s Special Care Dental Service.

Recognising that this group of service users may face barriers in accessing general dental services, the virtual tours allow patients and families to explore a 360-degree view of the inside and outside of the trust’s dental sites, ahead of their visit.

Caroline Frolander, clinical director of Solent’s Special Care Dental Service, said: “In providing dental care for people with additional needs, we recognise that attending our clinics for the first time can be unsettling. Information given in advance of an appointment, such as easy read guides can help prepare people so that they feel more comfortable when they come and see us. We have been proud to work with Autek CIC to create videos to support and enhance access for people using our services. Patients and those supporting them can learn about what to expect from us as we open the conversation about how we can best support people to have the best possible dental experience.”

Surgeons implant “pen lid” sized pacemaker at University Hospitals Southampton

The first patient has been successfully fitted with a “pen lid” sized pacemaker at University Hospitals Southampton. Ten times smaller than a standard device, the Aveir VR leadless pacemaker can be implanted directly into the right ventricle, via a catheter placed in the IVC. The team from Southampton reported that the procedure took “around 30 minutes to complete”.

The new device is intended to have a battery life of “up to twice as long as other leadless pacemakers”, and to be able to be easily removed for a replacement or upgrade in the future. It has also been designed to operate “as part of a dual-chamber pacemaker system”, which is currently being tested for safety and efficiency before being offered to patients.

Professor Paul Roberts, the consultant cardiologist leading the team, said that the move “represents a significant advancement in patient care with leadless pacemaker technology. The battery life of this device has the potential to last for more than 20 years in some patients. Furthermore, it is anticipated in the near future we will be able to implant a second device in the top chamber of the heart (atrium), in selected patients which means that a larger group of patients may benefit from this technology.”

Holly Health secures funding to tackle multimorbidity

Holly Health, a personalised digital health coaching platform, has secured £650,000 in an investment and grant funding round, including £323,000 from Innovate UK, as part of the Future Economy Investor Partnerships scheme.

The funding will help Holly Health to advance its AI coaching service, with an initial multimorbidity focus on hypertension plus mental health challenges. The 12-month project will leverage AI capabilities to enhance behaviour change services, and will feature a three-month randomised controlled trial focusing on patients with hypertension and depression/anxiety with Northumbria Primary Care.

Northumbria Primary Care comments: “We are delighted to join Holly Health as a healthcare research partner. We are particularly excited about the upcoming randomised controlled trial, where we will be closely examining the clinical impact of providing Holly Health’s innovative solutions to a specific cohort dealing with hypertension and comorbid depression/anxiety. This aligns with our dedication to pioneering research and finding practical, patient-centric solutions to enhance healthcare outcomes.”

South Lanarkshire Integration Joint Board publishes online Winter Health Hub 

In a bid to help tackle winter pressures, South Lanarkshire Integration Joint Board has published a series of measures, including the launch of a Winter Health Hub on NHS Lanarkshire’s website, focusing on wider public messaging and improving access for Lanarkshire residents.

The Winter Health Hub features information signposting patients to “the right healthcare professional”, as well as on Pharmacy First services. It also offers news and updates on topics including winter preparedness, weather and travel advice, and the cost of living crisis.

Lesley McDonald, chair of the IJB, said: “IJB members heard of meticulous yet flexible plans to negotiate the complex challenges of the season. Reliable, up-to-date and local information is, of course, important for members of the public and The Winter Hub is an excellent resource I’d strongly encourage people to use.”