The latest Digital Health News industry round up includes an award for a procurement team, a successful investment for virtual hospital wards and a new AI-enabled global data analytics platform.

LifeWorks acquires Ascender

LifeWorks has acquired mental health and wellbeing provider Ascender in a move that will strengthen the company’s position in Europe.

LifeWorks provides digital and in-person solutions to support the total wellbeing of individuals. As part of the acquisition Ascender will integrate with LifeWorks’ global operations, though its team will continue to operate out of its current locations across the Netherlands.

Despite the integration into the LifeWorks family, Ascender will operate on a largely standalone basis, though it will gain access to LifeWorks’ clinical best practices, digital technology and worldwide presence.

Philip Mullen, managing director, UK and Europe, LifeWorks said: “Throughout the pandemic we have witnessed a huge appetite amongst multinationals and local companies to support the total wellbeing of employees that are now spread across the world.

“The acquisition of Ascender will not only strengthen our presence in this region, but in addition, given Ascender offers a full suite of clinical expertise and research, our hope is that the company’s insight on psychological wellbeing can further enhance our customer offering on a global level.”

Moniek Vossenaar, managing director, Ascender, added: “Joining LifeWorks represents an important step for Ascender’s growth, the services we provide and the opportunities for our employees. The companies have a shared goal to improve the total wellbeing of our clients’ employees, and shared values of long-term relationships, treating others the way we want to be treated, and being innovative and entrepreneurial. We’re positive this acquisition will be beneficial to both companies and all parties involved.”

contextflow joins Wellbeing Software’s AI Connect gateway

Wellbeing Software, a healthcare technology provider, has teamed up with contextflow to deliver AI clinical decision support to radiologists via Wellbeing Software’s AI Connect Marketplace.

A spin-off of the Medical University of Vienna, contextflow is the latest AI vendor to join the AI Connect Marketplace. Wellbeing Software’s AI Connect enables hospitals to embed their chosen algorithms into their radiology workflow regardless of what RIS or PACS they’re running.

Chris Yeowart, general manager, business development at Wellbeing Software, said: “At Wellbeing we are always looking for the most innovative companies to partner with. The work that contextflow has done improves the way in which radiologists are able to control their workflow and diagnose patients both quicker and more accurately and they’re a valuable asset to our AI Connect Marketplace.”

contextflow’s core technology is the 3D image-based CDS system, contextflow SEARCH Lung CT. In line with the company’s ethos to develop deep learning-based tools to improved the daily clinical workflows of radiologists, it saves users time and increases reporting quality and confidence.

Markus Holzer, contextflow CEO and co-founder said: “Our aim is to empower radiologists to complete their daily workload faster and with higher quality outcomes. Wellbeing Software’s expertise as a workflow and integration specialist will help us give clinicians the tools, they need to blend clinical thinking and technological capabilities and create meaningful change to the way the radiologists work.”

Sensyne Health launches real world patient data analytics model

Sensyne Health has launched SENSIGHT – an AI-enabled global data analytics platform for the healthcare and life sciences sectors.

The platform is set to dramatically reduce the financial burden of accessing patient data insights while at the same time delivering real-world data at both speed and scale. It is built on a rapidly expanding set of anonymised and de-identified patient data taken from the research partnerships Sensyne has with NHS trusts and US health systems.

Its research partnerships cover 22.5million patients across a wide range of disease areas, with plans for rapid expansion that will see it cover data for 100million patients by 2024. As it evolves it will also offer researchable disease areas and analytical tools.

Currently users will be able to create, validate and explore curated patient cohorts in the areas of heart failure, stroke and haematological cancer. By the end of December 2021, six further disease areas will be added and eventually it will cover the majority of disease areas.

SENSIGHT has launched with access to two million patient data sets initially, with an expectation to grow this to 10 million by the end of this year. The platform will enable international professional collaboration which will drive improved patient care, reduce costs and accelerate medical discovery.

Subscription to the AI research capability platform costs £25,000 per person per year and it is underpinned and protected by a rigorous information governance and security framework.

Doccla raises £2.4m in funding

Doccla, a UK health tech start-up pioneering the use of virtual hospital wards, has raised £2.4m investment in an oversubscribed seed round.

The funding will help the medtech company to realise its ambition to make virtual hospitals a core part of the modern healthcare system.

It already provides remote monitoring services to hundreds of patients through its work with multiple NHS trusts in the UK. It harnesses IoT technology in order to monitor patient vitals and provide clinicians with valuable insights.

The company will now look to invest in its technology through integrations with the latest medical wearables, journal record systems and predictive analytics tools. It also intends to expand its clinical capacity to support NHS trusts’ staffing rota.

Dag Larsson, CEO and co-founder of Doccla said: “Our end-to-end virtual ward services are extremely easy for the care provider to take on and extremely hard for them to ignore. The NHS now faces a challenging winter season and we’re evolving our technology to support care providers – giving them the extra clinical capacity and making it easy for hospitals to open up virtual wards.”

The technology is already being used to alleviate some of the pressure on NHS resources by enabling the early discharge of patients while remaining under the care of clinicians.

IT security skills gap highlighted

Research from IONOS Cloud has revealed that 40% of healthcare IT decision makers say their organisation has a cybersecurity skills gap – and 37% say it’s putting the company at risk of security threats.

The survey explored the healthcare IT skills gap, looking closely at cybersecurity, data protection and legislation. A quarter of respondents said that a gap in  data protection skills meant they were not adhering to necessary legislation, while 21% said they weren’t following the correct data protection procedures.

Despite this 79% of those polled agreed that data protection was in their top three priorities. When it came to cybersecurity protection, 85% said it was high priority.

The survey also looked at the perceived biggest threats to healthcare businesses’ IT security. Employees downloading unapproved apps was the top concern, with 40% naming it, followed by web-based attacks (37%) then phishing and scam attacks (36%).

“Healthcare companies are often the guardians of sensitive personal information, yet the Information Commissioner’s Annual 2019 Report found that healthcare is the worst sector when it comes to data breaches, accounting for 20% of the total in 2019,” said Achim Weiss, CEO of IONOS.

“It is not just large or well-known healthcare organisations at risk – the pandemic has accelerated digitalisation across the industry, potentially leaving businesses more vulnerable, and meaning the need for flawless cyber security and data protection practices is more important than ever before.”

When asked about their own cyber security risk assessments there was a noted disparity in responses. Just 30% said they’d conducted one in the past 12 months, with 21% saying they’ve carried one out in the past five years and have no plans to conduct one in the near future. A worrying 9% say they’ve never carried out a risk assessment and don’t intend to do so.

Collaborative Imaging Procurement Programme team receives Highly Commended in Go Awards

The procurement team responsible for a new NHS image sharing platform in Greater Manchester is celebrating after scooping a Highly Commended in the national Go Awards.

The Greater Manchester Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) uses cutting-edge technology to allow medics to instantly share high-quality scans and images across clinical sites to help deliver better care and treatment for patients. The Collaborative Imaging Procurement Programme team was awarded the honour in the Best Procurement Delivery – Health and Social Care category.

Chris Sleight, chair of the collaborative imaging board, said: “I am very proud of everyone involved in the procurement of PACS which is a game changing technology for image sharing in the NHS and which is already having a very positive impact on patient care across Greater Manchester. This is helping with recovery and management of the pandemic. The new system will also facilitate future use of further cutting edge developments in imaging. Well done everyone.”

The Go Awards celebrate the very best procurement achievements across the UK’s public, private and third sector organisations.