This Digital Health News industry round-up has an international flavour, with news of recent acquisitions in Spain and the Netherlands and expansion in to Germany, alongside UK updates on assessing pain and expanding staff banks.

Three new trusts join nation’s largest medical staff bank

Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Royal Bolton NHS Foundation Trust and Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust are the latest trusts to join the Doctors in Training Collaborative Staff bank.

The staff bank, which went live in November 2020, acts as a supplementary bank for participating hospitals, allowing them to broadcast shifts they’ve been unable to fill to clinical trainees already working with the North West’s network of hospitals. It’s the largest of its kind with 18 trusts now onboarded into the initiative.

The system is fully digitised and shifts are broadcast and booked through the Patchwork Health app. It is already helping to reduce spend on external locum agencies and reducing the admin burden of securing cover for shifts. It is also improving continuity of care for patients, through the use of a smaller pool of local staff.

Dr Anas Nader, CEO at Patchwork Health, said: “We created the first Collaborative Staff Banks in response to the desperately acute staffing needs sparked by the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since then, however, we have seen just how powerful these collaborations can be and the long-term benefits they bring. It’s brilliant to see so many trusts across the North West coming together to pool resources and embrace digital staffing solutions that make a difference to patients, staff and hospitals alike.”

First digital health library for UAE

Plans are afoot for the Middle East’s first digital health library thanks to a partnership between the Osteopathic Health Centre, Dubai and the Organisation for the Review of Care and Health Apps (ORCHA).

The one year contract will enable a projected 40,000 patients in the country to access a library of top-rated health apps to support their health goals. ORCHA, the world’s largest app review and distribution company, will also provide all the centre’s practitioners with CPD accredited training in how to use digital health, plus training on the Digital Health Formulary so that they can select and prescribe apps for patients.

A full library of apps will be hosted on the centre’s web pages. All have been tested against more than 350 digital health standards.

George Kowalski, ORCHA business development director, said: “In the future we’d like to see digital health technologies adopted across the entire UAE along with a standardised approach, in the same way that Europe’s Nordic states are working together to create a unified platform across the five independent countries. The result will be improved healthcare access for millions of people.”

Preventx expands into Europe

The UK’s leading online sexually transmitted infection testing service has made significant acquisitions in Spain and the Netherlands.

Preventx has acquired Open House, the leading Spanish STI clinic, and Soapoli Online (SPO), the largest provider of STI remote self-sampling in the Netherlands.

The expansion into Europe is the start of the company’s plans to build both a southern and northern hub, intended to make testing more easily accessible to the public.

Using a powerful tech platform and a dedicated lab, Preventx currently enables people in the UK to take control of their health by ordering a self-sampling STI kit online. Users can then take their sample themselves and return them for analysis.

With the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, the use of self-sampling test kits have doubled, according to the company, and they expect the growth to continue.

CEO of Preventx, Ruth Poole, commented: “The UK is leading the world in normalising online testing as part of life for sexually active people. These important acquisitions will position Preventx to become the European leader in sexual health, enabling millions more people to access reliable and accessible sexual health services.”

Digital technology ‘the future’ for accurate pain assessments

A new report into global pain assessment methods and pain management tools in UK care homes has confirmed the importance of digital technology to enable accurate pain assessment and treatment, calling it ‘the future’.

Published recently, Modern Pain Assessment in Aged Care: Challenges, Guidelines and Practices, consolidates details from a study carried out by medtech company PainChek.

Unlike other tools that rely on subjective observations from the carer, the PainChek app automates the pain assessment process by using facial analysis technology and artificial intelligence. It can detect micro-expressions on patients’ faces and combines them with observations.

According to PainChek’s research the app is capable of detecting pain with 95% accuracy, 96% sensitivity and 91% specificity in those unable to verbalise pain.

Pete Shergill, PainCheck UK&I country director, said: “Digital systems are poised to supersede traditional paper-based systems across the social care environment, and pain management should be no exception, empowering carers with the tools and training needed to accurately assess pain and provide appropriate pain assessment and treatment to every individual, regardless of their age of ability to verbalise pain.”

Last month the company unveiled an upgraded version, PainChek Universal. The updated app features the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) which means it can now be used with care home residents capable of self-reporting their pain.

The report is available free to download for UK care providers and professionals.

Liva Healthcare expands into Germany

Liva Healthcare, provider of scalable digital health coaching, has launched in Germany to help combat the growing numbers of people living there with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Its human coaching programme is designed to help people manage their condition and develop healthier, long-lasting habits. Courtesy of an app, members receive weekly coaching via videos or texts and personal health coaches send custom-made nutrition advice, exercise plans and more. Additionally the community of Liva users can support and inspire each other.

Stephanie Kaiser, member of the scientific advisory board of Liva, said: “Digital solutions like Liva can help to prevent chronic diseases in Germany. By deliberately linking individual counselling, personal exchange and the extended (digital) arm via a very user-friendly app, Liva becomes a constant companion in patients’ pockets. With this approach, long-term successes are achieved more frequently and the lives of patients are improved in the long term.”

Doctrin raises €13m to accelerate expansion

Swedish health tech company Doctrin has raised €13m (£11m) in order to fuel its further expansion. Led by existing investors, HealthCap, Swedbank Robur and Capio, Norron Asset Management has also come on board with a special focus on investments for a sustainable society.

The company is one of Sweden’s leading suppliers of digital solutions for ‘digi-physical’ healthcare. It also offers a unique medical content for medical history taking which enables the information to be automatically turned into a medical report. According to the company, the reports are of such high quality that healthcare staff are able to make medical decisions based on it.

Doctrin has had expansion in its sights for a while – earlier this year the company launched Doctrin Network, a new feature that supports advanced collaboration between healthcare locations. This new launch was a significant step forwards in its vision of patient-centric healthcare with no barriers. Last year the company expanded in the UK, the Czech Republic and Norway.

Anna-Karin Edstedt Bonamy, CEO of Doctrin, said: “Unlike many digital platforms, which focus on solving healthcare’s long-term challenge, we focus on solving healthcare’s long-term challenge, the lack of resources. We look forward to taking the next development step expanding into new markets and medical areas.”