The latest Digital Health News industry round-up includes the launch of a new awards for innovation and VR tech for diversity training.

Healum launches research network for AI-driven care planning

Digital health software provider Healum, has launched a research network that aims to give patients a voice in shaping the direction of newly developed AI technology for healthcare.

The community approach means people will be able to share their data on health outcomes and medical and non-medical treatments received with healthcare professionals, who can then better understand what combinations of care and lifestyle choice work for different people.

Jonathan Abraham, CEO and co-founder of Healum, added: “Artificial intelligence has the potential to unlock many benefits for healthcare if it is guided by the wisdom of the people that deliver and use services. Our research to date has seen the powerful network effects of crowdsourcing data from healthcare professionals and their consenting patients to train machine learning algorithms that can identify the optimal set of choices for an individual.”

People enrolled on the new open health research community will be able to use an app to manage their long-term health condition and control how their data is shared. For healthcare providers, the research community will help them better understand the approaches their peers are taking for patients with similar profiles.

The shared data will help other patients with the same conditions, or conditions, by informing healthcare providers and researchers which approaches worked best to achieve desired health outcomes.

The digital platform allows healthcare professionals working in primary and secondary care to co-create digital care plans with their patient in a shared decision-making process.

Hampshire Hospitals seeks to improve multi-disciplinary team collaboration

Hampshire Hospitals Foundation Trust has joined forces with Hospital Services Limited (HSL) to improve multi-disciplinary team (MDT) collaboration on orthopaedic cases.

The partnership has seen a video conferencing solution be rolled out across multiple hospital sites, supporting improved collaboration between teams and reducing the need to travel.

The solution can be integrated with Microsoft Teams and Cisco equipment and is powered by Pexip Infinity. As well as MDT meetings, its flexibility in both format and size means it can also be used for seminars, training and larger meetings.

Participants are able to view all clinical data shared within the meeting room, working alongside the EPR to include all the information in one ecosystem. A three-screen setup allows participants to take control of the screen, offering equal and secure access to EPR, imaging and test results.

Craig Effer, service delivery manager at Hampshire Hospitals, said: “… our IT team was enthusiastic about finding a video solution which would not only help to fill the gap of in-person meetings but also improve collaboration in a way that would willingly be sustained by healthcare practitioners post-pandemic.

“Working with HSL on the setup and ongoing support around the MDT virtual rooms solution has been an incredibly positive experience which has delivered significantly in terms of time savings, improved collaboration, and ease of use. The system is incredibly straightforward to use and we hope to implement this for MDTs in other departments in the near future.”

New awards celebrate innovation in health and care

A new national awards has been launched by the Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) Network, in collaboration with NHS Confederation.

The Innovate Awards will celebrate excellence in innovation and transformation across the health and care sector.

There are 10 award categories, as well as the Innovation Champion of the Year award which recognises one winner from across all other category winners. The categories are: Net Zero Innovation of the Year; The Diversity in Innovation Award; Excellence in Patient and Public Involvement in Transformation and Innovation; Innovation Spread Award; Best Workforce Innovation; Innovation Helping Address Health Inequalities; Outstanding Contribution to Population Health Through Innovation; Innovative Health System of the Year; Outstanding Collaboration with Industry; and Enabling Safer Systems of Care Through Innovation.

Richard Stubbs, vice chair of the AHSN Network and chief officer at Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, said: “We need to value and sustain the innovation culture within the NHS and part of that is about recognising and rewarding our amazing innovators.

“These awards will provide a fantastic opportunity to showcase the great work that is happening in health and care innovation, as well as helping us to identify, spread and adopt the opportunities that exist to transform services.”

Matthew Taylor, chief executive, NHS Confederation, added: “These awards recognise exceptional efforts in helping to transform health and care, and give recognition, acknowledgement and appreciation that individuals, teams and organisations deserve for leading the way in health and care innovation.”

The awards are open to anyone working in integrated care communities, such as local authorities, care providers and other NHS health and social services. Entries can be made via the Innovate Awards website, submissions close at midnight on 23 June.

Winners will be announced at the end of September.

Liva extends reach under NHS National Diabetes Prevention Programme

Liva Healthcare and its partner Living Well Taking Control have been handed additional contracts under the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NDPP). The two companies will be providing digital health coaching and in-person support to more people who are at risk of developing the condition.

Soon to cover 14 regions in the programme, Liva and Living Well Taking Control (LWTC) will provide a choice of healthcare coaching which is tailored to local needs.

Since its inception in 2016, the NDPP has seen almost 1m referrals to its service. Liva has been a part of the programme since 2017, and first partnered with LWTC in 2019. The combination of Liva’s digital service and LWTC’s face-to-face intervention is currently in place in six regions including Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Dorset.

Under Framework 3 of the programme, Liva and LWTC will go live in eight additional contract regions from 1st August 2022.

Sarah Beeby, UK managing director of Liva, said: “Healthcare providers around the world are looking for solutions to combat the rise in diabetes and obesity. Historically, access to the practical and emotional support needed to make the difference has been hampered by cost and logistical obstacles. Technology holds huge potential to enable preventative care at scale, that has not yet been fully embraced. To ensure the long-term affordability of health services, like the NHS, we need to harness technology alongside coaching expertise to deliver early interventions at population scale.”

Ransomware attacks on healthcare organisations increased 94% in 2021

The number of healthcare organisations who experienced a ransomware attack rose by 94 per cent last year, according to Sophos’ global survey ‘The State of Ransomware in Healthcare 2022’.

The survey revealed that in 2021, 66 per cent of healthcare organisations were hit by a ransomware bug. In comparison, in 2020, just 34 per cent were affected. In more positive news, the report showed that 99 per cent of affected healthcare organisations were able to regain at least some of their data, after cybercriminals encrypted it during the attacks. However, just two per cent were able to recover all of their data after paying the ransom.

Sophos’ study found that although healthcare organisations pay the ransom the most often (61%) in comparison to other industries, they also pay the lowest average ransom: $197,000, compared with the global cross-sector average of $812,000.

John Shier, senior security expert at Sophos, said: “Ransomware in the healthcare space is more nuanced than other industries in terms of both protection and recovery.

“The data that healthcare organisations harness is extremely sensitive and valuable, which makes it very attractive to attackers. In addition, the need for efficient and widespread access to this type of data – so that healthcare professionals can provide proper care – means that typical two-factor authentication and zero trust defense tactics aren’t always feasible.

“This leaves healthcare organisations particularly vulnerable, and when hit, they may opt to pay a ransom to keep pertinent, often lifesaving, patient data accessible.”

West Midlands Academic Health Science Network launches fund to support health and social care initiatives

The West Midlands Academic Health Science Networks (WMAHSN) has launched its new Human Factors Workforce Fund which will support the adoption or spread of Human Factors innovation or improvement.

Up to £10,000 of funding is available to any team or individual working health and social care with the WMAHSN’s geographical area. It will be used to help overcome barriers in implementing innovations and improvements in their direct field of work.

Fran Ives, Human Factors specialist at West Midlands Academic Health Science Network said: “The Human Factors Workforce Fund enables organisations to increase their Human Factors work whilst also focusing on resolving some of the inequalities found within healthcare.

“By supporting Human Factors focused projects, across the local health and social care sector, we are able to improve human wellbeing and system performance, and as a result improve delivery of services and patient outcomes.”

Ultimately the fund hopes to bring tangible enhancements to workforce practices or patient experiences in the region. This includes Birmingham and Solihull; Black Country and West Birmingham; Coventry and Warwickshire; Hereford and Worcestershire; Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent; and Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin

In addition to the funding, successful projects will also gain WMAHSN support over a six-month delivery period. This support will encourage teams to use Human Factors methods to make measurable improvements for both the workforce and patients.

This year the network is looking to support projects with a primary focus on one or more of the five clinical areas within the Core20PLUS5 document: maternity; severe mental illness; chronic respiratory disease; early cancer diagnosis; and hypertension case-finding.

Applications to the fund can be made up until 3 July 2022, with interviews scheduled to take place on 15 July 2022. Applications can be submitted on the WMAHSN’s Meridian Innovation Exchange.

King’s College Hospital pilots use of VR tech for diversity training

King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is piloting the use of virtual reality tech in an initiative from VR training company Virti and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust’s Maudsley Learning.

The technology will be used to deliver diversity and inclusion training to frontline mental health staff at King’s College. The initiative is part of extensive research into overcoming ongoing and systemic inequalities in the healthcare industry.

Maudsley Learning and Virti have joined forces to create unique VR scenarios which can be accessed by staff on VR headsets or on mobile devices. They will then have the opportunity to practice skills like empathy, inclusion and interpersonal awareness in an immersive VR environment, before applying them on the ward.

James Pathan, head of operations, Maudsley Learning, said: Immersive VR technology has huge potential to transform the way that we train healthcare staff. In busy hospital environments, it’s near impossible to find the time and resources that are needed to deliver effective upskilling programmes, but recent innovations in VR tech have the potential to offer a very impactful solution.

“A major advantage is the scalability of the technology, and the potential to reach more of the workforce with lower cost, experiential training. Having this training placed on wards allows staff to access learning at their own convenience.”

The simulations have been built by Virti and can be accessed on-demand. Its analytics platform also allows access to data on learner performance – including decision speed and accuracy, and user engagement. This data can then be used to improve the scenarios on an ongoing basis.

Maudsley Learning is now working to develop, trial and deploy more mental health based VR training modules, including diversity and inclusion, conflict de-escalation, reducing restrictive practices and training to increase awareness and knowledge of how mental and physical health can impact on each other.