CHANGED DEADLINE Calling all diabetes prevention apps: may be your chance for greatness!

Our Mobile Health is seeking to identify the best digital behaviour change interventions aimed at helping people diagnosed as pre-diabetic to reduce their risk of onset of Type 2 Diabetes. They are working with NHS England and the Diabetes Prevention Programme to identify the best 4-5 of these that are suitable for deployment to around a total of 5000 people across England. The aim is to build up an evidence base for digital behaviour change interventions for people diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

Organisations with suitable digital behaviour change interventions are invited to submit their solutions for inclusion. These should be either actually deployed or will be ready to be deployed within three months. They should be suitable to be, or have been, localised for the UK market, and they should not be dependent on any further integration with the UK health system for deployment.  Shortlisted digital behaviour change interventions will be invited to participate in Our Mobile Health’s assessment process; the final selection will be made based on the results of that assessment.

The deadline for submissions, which can be made directly online is midday on Wednesday 15th March.  NOTE THIS IS A CHANGE FROM THAT PREVIOUSLY ADVISED. There is more about the programme on the NHS website.

(Disclosure: this editor has been asked to assist with the assessment process referred to above)

Tender up: NHS Shared Business Services (SBS) (UK)

Susanne Woodman, our Reader who is our Eye on Tenders, has found this on the Gov.UK contracts finder site:

Lease of telehealth equipment and peripherals by NHS Shared Business Services. Tender # is RA212802. Location is listed as postal code M50 2UW which is Salford, Lancashire. No value assigned. The RFQ expires on Monday 20th February at 12pm. Questions accepted until Wednesday 15th February 2017 at 12:00 with responses returned by Friday the 17th. Quote procedure and more information is via Multiquote.

British Journal of Cardiology (BJC) Digital Healthcare Forum’s inaugural meeting

28 April, 9:30am-5pm, Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, London 

Henry Purcell of the BJC was kind enough to post us with information on the first-ever BJC Digital Healthcare Forum. Organized by the BJC in association with the NHS, the Digital Health and Care Alliance (DHACA), and the Telehealth Quality Group, it is a novel ‘hands on’ meeting to assess if digital medicine can fill gaps in healthcare provision throughout the NHS. It is also in response to the massive pressures which winter has wrought on NHS health and social services. The Forum was designed by clinicians and leaders in healthcare informatics for UK commissioners, doctors and other HCPs involved in the management of long-term conditions (cardiovascular, obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes etc.), as well as those engaged in health informatics, IT, and Trust CEOs. Speakers include Dr Malcolm Fisk of De Montfort University, our own Charles Lowe of DHACA, Professor Tony Young, National Clinical Director for Innovation (NHS England) and many more experts in digital health and care. For the latest information and to register, see the event website or the attached PDF.

Two tenders up in Scotland and Wales (UK)

Susanne Woodman, our Reader who keeps an eye on telecare procurement tenders, has alerted our UK readers to two current postings:

Telecare IT Platform for East Lothian Council (Scotland).  This is for the purchase an integrated call handling facility and telecare asset management system to respond to alerts from telecare equipment in the homes of vulnerable people. Contract duration 60 months. Deadline 1 March. (Public Contracts Scotland)

NHS Wales Informatics Service–Velindre NHS Trust. The NHS in Cardiff, Wales is looking to appoint partners to develop solutions to engage citizens digitally in the proactive management of their health. It is anticipated that this could encompass a wide range of services from existing applications (Apps) to innovative joint developments. Contract notice will be published 4 April, but the notice as published does not have a deadline. (Tenders Electronic Daily)  See the Sell2Wales website for documentation.

Babylon as AI diagnostician that is ’10 times more precise than a doctor’

The NHS announced at the top of this month that it would test Babylon Health‘s ‘chatbot’ app for the next six months to 1.2 million people in north London. During the call to the 111 medical hotline number, they will be prompted to try the app, which invites the user to text their symptoms. The app decides through the series of texts, through artificial intelligence, in minutes how urgent the situation is and will recommend action to the patient up to an appointment with their GP, or if acute to go to Accident & Emergency (US=emergency room or department) if the situation warrants. It will launch this month in NHS services covering Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey, and Islington, London. TechCrunch.

The NHS’ reasons for “digitising” services through a pilot like Babylon’s app is to save money by reducing unnecessary doctor appointments and pressure on A&Es. It provides a quick diagnosis that usually directs the patient to self-care until the health situation resolves. If not resolved or obviously acute, it will direct to a GP or A&E. The numbers are fairly convincing: £45 for the visit to a GP, £13 to a nurse and £0 for the app use. According to The Telegraph, the trial is facing opposition by groups like Patient Concern, the British Medical Association’s GP committee, and Action Against Medical Accidents. There is little mention of wrong diagnoses here (see below). The NHS’ app track record, however, has not been good–the NHS Choices misstep on applying urgency classifications to a ‘symptom checker’ app–and there have been incidents on 111 response.

Babylon’s founder Ali Barsa, of course, is bullish on his app and what it can do. (more…)

The King’s Fund Digital Health and Care Congress ’17–update

The latest from The King’s Fund on the upcoming Digital Health and Care Congress, 11-12 July (only six months from now!) is in this video now available on Vimeo. It gives a great overview of how digital health has to be integrated to improve care in the NHS and also in other countries, and the scope of its effects on clinicians, HIT, and patients. This Editor has also received word that the successful projects submitted in the meeting’s call for papers will be announced on Friday 20 January, and that the full programme will be announced at the end of this month.

The King’s Fund’s event page; the Digital Health Congress fact sheet includes information on sponsoring or exhibiting. To make the event more accessible, there are new reduced rates for groups and students, plus bursary spots available for patients and carers.  

Hat tip to KF’s Claire Taylor for the information and the update. TTA will be a media partner of the Digital Health Congress 2017. Updates on Twitter @kfdigital17

Virtual care stops germs dead in their tracks! (Who would have thought it?)

Here at TTA we do receive and read a lot of press releases, and most are pretty meh. (We work very hard to avoid subjecting our readers to meh, as we don’t much like it either.) Now this one takes a different tack. It backs up telemedicine and telehealth technology that enables the patient to avoid the germ-filled doctor’s office and ED. According to Zipnosis citing the Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology journal, after the standard well-child visit, there is a 3.17 percent increase in influenza-like illnesses among children and their family members within two weeks. Extrapolated, this results in more than 766,000 additional office visits for flu-like symptoms each year and nearly $492 million in annual costs. Now here is a simple, proactive improvement in outcomes that achieves savings (hear that, HHS and NHS?) facilitated by healthcare technology. (See previous article on ‘A tricorder one step closer‘)

The remainder of the release concentrates on what a bad idea it is to subject the rest of the world to your germs when down with a cold or flu. Even the CDC wants patients to stay home from work, school and errands. (That is, if you can.) The point is made that virtual care can unjam doctor offices and EDs for those less dangerous who need hands on care. The light touch of the product message is that Zipnosis provides a white-labeled virtual care platform to health systems that first uses an online adaptive interview with a patient to document the condition, provides a diagnosis and treatment plan within an hour, directing the patient to an appropriate level of care. Release.

A couple more grant opportunities for SMEs

This editor was recently rendered temporarily speechless by an entrepreneur who complained that there was no money available any more to help him start his business. Upon recovering my power of speech I suggested he read Telehealth & Telecare Aware more avidly as we publicise many grants, awards, accelerators and other types of assistance. Here are two more:

mHabitat

mHabitat are launching a Digital Development Lab to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in mental health.

They anticipate working with around six to eight Digital Development Lab participants over approximately seven months who will have access to a share of a £400k grant to accelerate their technology towards endorsement and adoption by NHS services and service users.

The Lab is open to applications from innovators (more…)

Events last week beyond Brexit: London Technology Week, CE Week NYC

The world may have turned upside down (and around) with Brexit, but London Technology Week happened nevertheless. It’s exploded into 400 events and 43,000 attendees, with 300 attending an event at London City Hall on health tech within the NHS. (Attendees invited to contribute in Comments.) Designer Brooke Roberts, an ex-NHS radiographer who advocates the fusion of fashion and tech, debuted her brain scan-inspired knitwear, accomplished by translating scans into digital files capable of programming industrial knitting machines. According to GP Bullhound in their annual European Unicorns report, 18 of Europe’s 47 billion-dollar digital startups are now based in the UK. So who needs the EU?  TechCityNews, CNN, Yahoo Tech

click to enlargeOn the other side of the Atlantic, there was a disappointing absence of wearables and health tech at the Consumer Electronics Association’s NYC summer event, CE Week. It’s been a major feature since 2009 at International CES in January; the NYC summer show and the November CES preview had always featured a mostly local exhibitor contingent and conference content. None this year–a representative cited a mystifying ‘change in direction’. There was one lone wearable way back in the exhibit hall–MonBaby, which came in from 16 blocks uptown. The snap-on button monitor works with any garment (unlike the Mimo onesie and the Owlet sock) (more…)

Philips publishes new report on connected tech

click to enlargeA report published by Philips today claims that 78% of healthcare professionals believe their patients need to take a more active role in managing their health while 20% of UK patients admit to not managing their health, according to a press release. The report suggests that the result of people not paying attention to their health is increased illnesses (or “lifestyle related conditions” as the report calls them) such as heart failure and type 2 diabetes. The report then goes on to suggest that the use of “connected technology” to help manage their health should be made mandatory for some patients. Connected technology is defined as technology that enables sharing of information throughout all parts of the health system (e.g. doctors, nurses, community nurses, patients, hospitals, specialists, insurers and government) that can range from computer software that allows secure communication between doctors and hospitals, to a watch that tracks a person’s heartbeat. However, the connected technology in a case study highlighted in the press release is home based monitoring systems supplied by Philips for a classic UK telehealth trial for COPD, diabetes and heart failure.

Philips say they commissioned the Future Health Index (FHI) report to globally gauge (more…)

The Accelerated Access Review – a personal journey

click to enlargeThe Accelerated Access Review (AAR) aims to speed up access by NHS patients to innovative medicines, medtech and diagnostics, and digital health. Of these, digital health is the newest, and because it enables care to be delivered in a far more efficient and patient-centric way, offers great hope for the future of improved patient outcomes and controlled costs.

As someone outside government who was drawn into the digital health stream of the AAR, this blog aims to capture key learnings from the experience.

Challenges

The initial list of obstacles to innovation in the NHS was depressingly long, until carefully differentiated. Top of the pile were items like the NHS’s asymmetric attitude to risk – successful innovations are forgotten, unsuccessful innovations are a life sentence for those involved – which are soluble only by those at the very top.

Then there were the surmountable challenges – for example the fear, uncertainty and doubt over digital health regulation was overcome by (more…)

NHS England announces 7 “Test Beds”

NHS England has announced a series of “Innovation Test Beds” that will be used to “harness technology to address some of the most complex issues facing patients and the health service”.

“Front-line health and care workers in seven areas will pioneer and evaluate the use of novel combinations of interconnected devices such as wearable monitors, data analysis and ways of working which will help patients stay well and monitor their conditions themselves at home”, according to the NHS press release. (more…)

Cornwall Council to terminate BT outsourcing deal

The High Court has ruled that Cornwall Council is within its rights to terminate the multi-million pound click to enlargeservices outsourcing contract with BT because BT “did not provide … the service it had promised to the standard it had promised”.

Cornwall Council welcomed the High Court decision yesterday saying “The judge’s decision confirms the Council’s argument that BT Cornwall had been in material breach of the contract due to their failure to carry out services to the required contractual standards and, therefore, that we were justified in reaching the decision that we were entitled to terminate the contract.

“As a result of this decision, the Council intends to give notice of the contract before Christmas but there will be no immediate change in the arrangements as notice will not take effect until January.”

BT was awarded the 10-year contract in 2013 amid much controversy as was widely reported including here on TTA. (more…)

47% of UK adults prefer virtual visits: Aviva Health Check study

Insurer Aviva’s latest Health Check study headlined the following findings about UK adults’ growing preference for digital health options, including a growth in acceptance of wearable monitors:

  • 47% are willing to be diagnosed digitally instead of face-to-face with their GP
  • 67% would use wearable technology to monitor long-term medical conditions such as diabetes or heart failure–especially those who are overweight (68%) or obese (71%)
  • The majority already using healthcare technology report improved health–63% of all age groups using a physical activity monitor say it has improved their health, rising to 66% of those with a heart rate monitor
  • Three in five (60%) non-users would use a physical activity or heart rate monitor in the future, while 52% would consider using a sleep pattern monitor
  • 55% agree the NHS should provide free technology to help people play an active role in improving their health
  • Younger age groups are most open (of course) to use of monitoring. 15% of those 25-34 use a physical activity monitor (compared to 8% overall) while 9% of 25-34s use a sleep pattern monitor (vs. 4% overall)

Aviva has an interest in digital health through its recently established customer partnership with babylon‘s UK-based telemedicine app [TTA 26 May]. The study was conducted by ICM Research for Aviva UK Health in August 2015. Respondents were invited from ICM’s online panel and 2,004 interviews were conducted amongst a nationally representative sample of the UK adult population.

The full study is available here to our Readers. Aviva release.

Telecare: the cost of a failure (updated)

The value of a telecare service, typified by the familiar red-button alarms worn round the neck or click to enlargewrist and providing the less able to confidently live an independent life is, of course, well known. Telecare also provides a range of unobtrusive wireless sensors that detects possible problems around the home such as a gas hob or tap left on,  smoke from a smouldering sofa where a cigarette may have fallen and so on.

There are many companies around the world providing telecare services. But what if the service suffers an interruption? What needs to be done and what is the cost?

The UK’s NHS in Scotland had to face these questions recently when the telecare service it provides in the Highland Council area suffered a total failure last week. The system had failed for about four hours last Saturday and, although a  backup system existed, that failed to deploy. (more…)

New telehealth investment in Wales

The Welsh Government is to invest £250,000 in expanding telehealth services in rural parts of the country, it has been announced click to enlargetoday. This is part of a £10 million investment that was announced in January to improve efficiency in the Welsh NHS.

Information available indicates that this telehealth investment is primarily in imaging technology enabling specialists in distant centres to access X-ray and other images taken at rural health facilities closer to the patients.

The press release from the Welsh Government quotes the Health Minister Professor Mark Drakeford as saying “Telehealth already means orthopaedic specialists in Abergavenny can look at X-rays from Brecon to avoid unnecessary travel for patients. This investment will take stock of all practices which use telehealth across NHS Wales (more…)