Weekend UK news roundup: NHS England’s growing bed shortage as backlog hits 6.6M, Inoapps software for US health vans, Data Driven Healthcare Birmingham 1 Aug, Oto raises £2.8M, WeWALK £1.7m in funding

A study by the Health Foundation’s REAL Centre is sounding the alarm over a growing shortage of hospital beds within NHS England. Their estimate is in order to maintain pre-pandemic standards of care, 23,000 to 39,000 extra beds could be needed by 2030/31–a 20–35% increase that will cost in current monetary terms between £17 and 29 billion. The study cites the factors of a larger, aging population, with more complex conditions. In the past 30 years, as in most countries, England’s hospital bed capacity has been reduced by half as care has shifted to outpatient facilities and now telehealth. Where this puts England–like the US in a different management model–is that there is little excess to meet extraordinary demand with only two beds per person, near the bottom. England’s 89.6% acute bed occupancy rate is lower only than Ireland at 90.7%, perpetually strapped Canada (which offloads to the US) at 91.7%, and Israel at 92.3%. (The US is surprisingly just above 64% though there are 2.5 beds per person.) The study does advocate solutions such as RPM and hospital-to-home, identifying four areas:

  1. Increase hospital bed supply – provide additional hospital beds that are suitably staffed to meet demand.
  2. Do things faster – continue to reduce the average time each patient spends in hospital.
  3. Do things differently – for instance, by expanding potential substitutes for hospital beds such as expanding virtual wards or nursing home beds.
  4. Do less – either by better meeting patient need, for instance by investing in primary care to reduce unnecessary emergency admissions, or by delivering less of some services, either explicitly by changing thresholds or implicitly by reducing supply.

Knocking on to all of this is the staffing shortage which REAL Centre has chronicled which is a key factor in treatment, affecting patient backlog which rose to 6.6 million at end of May. HealthcareandProtection

The REAL Centre study is available for download here. A good summary with plenty of charts to peruse is provided by the Daily Mail. Health Foundation release

Scotland and US-based Inoapps announced that it developed a guest registration application for TeleHealth Network, a Los Angeles-based (literally) mobile health provider. Over 40 5G equipped TeleHealth Vans travel to underserved areas of Los Angeles to deliver community-based virtual health services. The vans provide health services to primarily homeless, veterans, and low-income communities, and have reached 550,000 people to date. The application is based on Oracle APEX on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) to connect people with services efficiently, using the smallest amount of personal data possible which seems to be a key driver (sic). Inoapps release.

Data Driven Healthcare is the theme of a 1 August meeting in Birmingham during the Commonwealth Games. It is sponsored by UK House: The Commonwealth Business Hub and takes place at the University of Birmingham’s Exchange Building. The meeting will address healthcare challenges faced across the world and the critical issues governments, industry and communities must work together to address, as well as how the Midlands is driving innovation in translational medicine, clinical trials, and regulatory innovation. More information and registration here.

Tinnitus management app Oto raised £2.8 ($3.3) million in seed funding from Octopus Ventures. It follows a £510,000 pre-seed round from Y Combinator in January for a total of four pre-seed rounds since 2020 (Crunchbase). The app helps sufferers (and boy, do they suffer) habituate to the incessant ringing and buzzing, better manage it, and use positive relaxation and sleep techniques. The small London-based company was founded by two doctors who developed it in their 20s. UK Tech News  Also in London, WeWALK raised £1.7 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for its “smart cane”. It uses ultrasonic sensors to help those with visual impairments and can be paired with a mobile app to give voice-guided navigation. About 2 million in the UK have some form of severe visual impairment. According to their website, they are currently crowdfunding on Crowdcube and offering the app separate from the smart cane. UK Tech News

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