The latest Digital Health News industry round up includes vaccine equity grants, competition winners driving innovation in Wales and a record number of online consultations for one trust.

AI breast cancer test approved for UK use

A new AI test that can analyse images from cancer samples to predict the most effective treatment has been approved for use in the UK and EU.

The PANProfiler test can help speed up diagnosis and minimise the need for expensive and time consuming testing in laboratories. The technology is able to provide information to help inform a treatment decision in around 10-15 minutes, which, the developer says, could save the NHS millions of pounds every year.

The test was developed by Panakeia and works by analysing digital images of routinely-collected breast tumour samples that would normally be checked by a trained pathologist under a microscope. The PanProfiler Breast test can predict whether a cancer contains ER or PR receptors with this information then determining whether a patient is offered hormone therapy or HER2. It does so by detecting tiny differences in the appearance of cancer cells which can reveal vital information about their molecular state.

The company says accuracy of the test is comparable to lab testing, but it can save significant amounts of time, money and ease the burden on busy lab services.

Pahini Pandya, co-founder at Panakeia, said: “Due to the pressure on labs, even in the best healthcare systems, diagnosis and treatment decisions can take weeks – an unacceptable and stressful delay when dealing with a fast-growing cancer. We’re excited to be rolling out PANProfiler to hospitals here in the UK and around the world to speed up access to treatment and help save lives.”

Professor David Harrison, director of iCAIRD, a UK centre of excellence focused on AI applications in pathology and radiology, said: “This profiler has the potential to help the NHS improve efficiency in pathology laboratories, support efforts to ease pathology networks, and facilitate COVID-19 recovery. It enables rapid cancer diagnosis, improving both patient experience and outcomes.”

The PANProfiler Breast test is UKCA and CE accredited for clinical use by health services in the UK and Europe and is now being trialled in UK hospitals.

NDL launches eForms Showcase

NDL has launched its eForms Showcase which provides templates that can help support transformation in the healthcare sector.

The showcase is a library of in-demand templates, that can help reduce the time-to-live on digitisation projects and help to make a difference faster. The forms have been designed to simplify the collection of information, reducing some of the administration burden.

Templates within the ever-expanding showcase include patient health questionnaires, nutritional alert forms and new starter forms. Each eForm is royalty free and provided to NDL’s customers on an Open Source basis. Low code templates built using NDL’s FX eForm template can be downloaded quickly and tailored to accelerate inhouse self-build projects. They can be redesigned, refined and rebranded as required, to support efficient frontline digitisation.

Campbell Harte, head of service delivery at NDL Software, said: “Many of our customers already share their projects via our user group and forums, and the eForm showcase builds on this existing community. We aim to encourage the wider healthcare sector to approach NDL with new eForm cases to continue the expansion of templates available, which can provide solutions for frontline digitisation.

“We know from experience that every organisation works in a slightly different way, so it’s vital customer teams have the flexibility to adapt technology to the way their staff actually work.”

The launch came from NDL’s Digital Apprenticeship Programme, a scheme to support the next generation of talent in the industry.

Twilio commits to $18m in vaccine equity grants

Twilio – a cloud communications platform – is helping more than 300million people globally to access Covid-19 vaccines and information through vaccine equity grants worth $18m (USD).

The grants were made to UNICEF, Save the Children, Civic Nation and others, who will now use Twilio to help schedule vaccinations, mitigate any concerns, source vaccines and distribute doses to build vaccine equity.

The organisation originally pledged $11m, but has since committed $18m plus over 1,000 hours of volunteer hours from its team and $1m in product credits.

More than 1,000 organisations around the world are using Twilio technology to support the communication of vaccine information, reminders and appointments. Through its grant to UNICEF it is helping to tackle community engagement and build trust in the vaccine while also delivering two million doses to middle and low-income countries.

Twilio is also being used by non-profits, including Save the Children, to build an informational chatbot to help address concerns about the vaccine. Mark Summer, senior advisor technology and data for development at Save the Children, said: “People want a trusted and safe space to ask their questions about the vaccine. So we used Twilio to build an informationally chatbot on SMS, WhatsApp and Voice to help address concerns.”

Grants are also being used to tackle complex distribution challenges. WeRobotics is using its grant to enable locally-led vaccine delivery in Madagascar with locally-made drones.

Cumbria and Northumberland Tyne and Wear hits 50,000 online consultations

Since the start of the pandemic, Cumbria Northumbria Tyne and Wear Foundation Trust has delivered over 50,000 online consultations through its OneConsultation service.

The service went live on the 6 April 2020 and, between implementation and the end of this June, the software from Modality had enabled 52,494 consultations to be carried out remotely across the trust. The response from patients has been positive, with 96% saying there were satisfied and 92% stating they were willing to receive future mental health care via video.

Gill Sanderson, head of digital customer operations, said: “It was always part of our plan to provide virtual consultations but clearly the start of the pandemic increased this urgency. Rollouts of this scale would have normally taken three months or more, but Modality responded immediately to our call and worked responsibly with us to accelerate rollout so we were able to offer services just two weeks after lockdown was announced.”

Although the trust has now resumed face-to-face consultations, it still averages 3,768 online consultations each month.

Sanderson added: “As the solution is cloud-based, running on the Microsoft Azure platform, we have been able to scale instantly to all of our teams and wards. Therefore, we have been able to ramp up to 141 teams and over 3,000 staff very quickly. The feedback from both staff and service users speakers for itself and OneConsulation is a key part of our service offering, enabling patients and staff to use it from anywhere providing expertise when and where it is needed across the huge area we cover.”

Competition winners to drive innovation in Wales

The TriTech Institute Health and Social Care Technology Challenge has unveiled the winners of its inaugural competition to identify, fund and support new innovations and ideas that can meet the needs of Welsh patients.

Facilitated by Hywel Dda University Health Board’s TriTech Institute and Swansea University’s Accelerate Healthcare Technology Centre, the Challenge has granted £20,000 of funding plus bespoke support to four successful submissions.

The winners are:

  • Safehouse AI Falls Sensor: a next gen falls detector developed by Secure Sensor Innovative Design (SSID) Ltd. GDPR-compliant AI tech can identify a fall with over 95% accuracy and open a voice call between the emergency services and the user within 30 seconds.
  • Long Covid Chatbot: Science & Engineering Applications Ltd has developed a mobile app for Long Covid sufferers to track their condition and securely share their records with healthcare professionals.
  • AI Signposting: A library of video content for those living with comorbidities which can be accessed by AI technology to offer personalised signposting and support.
  • Eupnoos Phone Spirometry: Eupnoos is developing a smartphone app to diagnose acute exacerbation events and mild presentations in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The app can transform a smartphone into a spirometer and triage system to enable self-testing at home.

Professor Chris Hopkins, scientific lead and head of TriTech Institute, Hywel Dda University Health Board, said: “The rapid acceptance and adoption of new technologies has been critical in responding to the pandemic. While we are moving towards a period of stabilisation, our challenge winners provide us with an exciting opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of our patients in Hywel Dda, Wales and beyond.”