It’s NICE to HealthTech Connect with the NHS

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) launched last week a resource for a wide range of health care technologies to gain traction in the UK. NICE’s HealthTech Connect is a free portal for companies and developers that enables “companies to understand what information is needed by decision makers in the UK health and care system, and clarify possible routes to market access.” It centralizes information on companies who enter their information for consideration by organizations which are seeking technologies or offering support such as funding, market access, and evaluation.

For this ‘single point’ initiative, NICE has brought on an impressive roster of partners and funders in England, Scotland, and Wales including NHS England, NHS Supply Chain, the NIHR Innovation Observatory, the AHSN Network, Office for Life Sciences, MHRA, and NHS Clinical Commissioners. Over 100 companies registered on the site, with 13 technologies submitted, since a soft launch in January. Already one company, Sonata System/Gynesonics, has been selected for a Medtech Innovation Briefing. HealthTech Connect will also facilitating fast tracking within the Accelerated Access Collaborative. NICE release, Mobihealthnews

Get happier, lose weight, be fitter–the efficacy of apps debated in studies present and future pilots

Do they really work to change behavior? Studies for the past seven or so years have debated efficacy; a quick search online will show you a wealth of articles with findings on both sides. We know healthcare-related (consumer behavior and professional apps) are growing like weeds after rain– over 320,000 mobile, wearable, and IoT health apps were available for use in 2017, with 200 added daily (Research2Guidance, IQVIA estimates). But qualitatively, the jury is out.

Three studies published in the last two months come somewhere in the middle.

Obesity and weight loss: A telemedicine-based 12 week study from California State University found that the combination of a secure mobile phone-based platform for data tracking and video conferencing with the research team, plus meeting with the medical doctor once per month, and weekly with a registered dietitian worked to clinical standards, ≥5% of initial body weight loss over six months, for 69 percent of the telemedicine participants (n=13) versus 8 percent in the control group (n=12). Note the substantial hands-on human support each of the 13 participants received. Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, Clinical Innovation & Technology

Activity monitoring not effective unless users set goals: A 400-person study performed by researchers from the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine and their Knight Cardiovascular Institute found that when people used such monitors and apps without a specific goal in mind, their physical activity declined and their heart health did not improve, even if 57 percent thought it did. The subjects, primarily office workers at one site, wore a Basis Peak band for about five months. To gauge heart health, the researchers also tracked multiple indicators of cardiac risk: body mass index, cholesterol, blood pressure and HbA1C. Cardiac risk factors did not change. However, the corresponding author, Luke Burchill MD PhD, told EurekAlert (AAAS) that when paired with specific goals, the trackers could be powerful tools for increasing physical activity. The original study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine doesn’t go quite that far. 

But it’s great for your morale, especially if you pay for it: A Brigham Young University study published in JMIR MHealth and UHealth (August) confirmed that physical activity app usage in the past 6 months resulted in a change in respondents attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and motivation. This study’s purpose was to track engagement factors such as likeability, ease of engagement, push prompts, and surprisingly, price–that higher-priced apps had greater potential for behavior change. Possible reasons were that the apps provide additional features or have higher quality programming and functionality. (And user investment?)

One growing area for apps is mental health, where the metrics are solidly behavioral and the condition is chronic. The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has moved forward in favor of piloting them with NHS England. The latest is one from Germany, Deprexis, that uses texts, emails, questionnaires, and cognitive behavioral therapy to give feedback to users. It also has tools to relax users through audio and visual programs. NICE recommends therapist guidance for the trial. According to Digital Health News, NICE is recommending it should be trialed for up to two years in at least two of the specialist services that were set up to improve access to psychological therapies. Again, cost is a factor in rolling out but others are access to care and freeing up therapist time. The organization also plans to review up to 14 digital programs to treat anxiety and depression over the next three years.

Hat tip to Toni Bunting for much of the above

For further reference: The 2017 R2G mHealth App Developer Economics 2017 study has been released and is available for free download here. The 2017 study surveyed 2,400 mHealth developers and practitioners. (Disclosure: TTA was a media sponsor for the study.)

Tender Alerts: Wigan, Salford, NICE (Manchester), Kirklees

Susanne Woodman, our Eye on Tenders, has four for your consideration, three of which are high value:

  • Wigan Council: “Delivery of Support at Home and Mobile Response Service”. Wigan is seeking TECS to support Borough residents in home-based independent living and in Managed Accommodation developments. The objective is to reduce the local burden of unnecessary hospital admissions, on emergency services, and to reassure families and carers about the person’s wellbeing. The contract is for 60 months and is valued at £2,375,000. Closing is 27 October at 10:15am. More information on TED.
  • Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust: “Provision of a Digital Control Centre”. Salford Royal will be the test bed for this Control Centre to potentially scale to the rest of the NHS. The Control Centre will use the latest advances in “data analytics and digital health to achieve a world-leading organisation which has operational excellence, the best quality healthcare and patient experience across the entire organization which also includes social care.” The five-year agreement starts August 2018 and is budgeted at £2.0m – £3.0m. More information on Gov.UK.
  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in Manchester: This is for the NICE External Assessment Centre Framework, to provide a range of health technology assessment services to support its technology evaluation programmes and related activities. It is in four lots: secondary data analysis, primary data analysis, technical and regulatory support, decision support. The contract is for 33 months from award and total value is in the range of £1-6m. Deadline is 20 November at 5pm. More information on TED
  • And a reminder that NHS Greater Huddersfield & North Kirklees’ tender deadline is 20 October.  This tender is open early engagement for the provision of a technology-assisted, rapid access service offering an alternative to hospital-based A&E services. Market test site is in Kirklees for residents of a care home. Requirements are:
    • A 24/7 clinical teleconsultation service delivered via secure video link into residential/ nursing homes, that is utilized instead of patients having to be taken to the local A&E department.
    • A service that provides clinical consultation not a logarithm based approach like 111.
    • A fully managed technical service utilizing bespoke laptops with HD cameras and with 4G SIM or broadband.
    • Deadline is 5pm on Friday 20 OctoberMore information on Gov.UK.