The latest Digital Health News industry round-up includes news from an AI-enabled surgical robot trial and a new collaboration for Peppy Health. 

Blue Zinc launches online healthcare portal for rehabilitation

Blue Zinc has created an online portal that will transform patients’ rehabilitation journey through their work or insurance policies.

For patients who have access to rehabilitation and wellbeing assistance services, the new portal can ensure a smooth journey, while for healthcare providers it removes many of the laborious, time-consuming admin tasks freeing them up to focus on higher value activities.

Sitting within the Caseflow platform, the portal enables patients to manage triage and appointments at home on their computer or smart device, at any time of day.

The system delivers a secure digital journey from injury through to an appointment with a healthcare clinician, without the need to pick up the phone or visit a clinic.

The portal can also store insurance information or plans related to the patient, and can access the appointment books of local clinics.

In addition, it’s able to link with a digital triage system which will take the patient through a series of questions to help determine the problem and then signpost them to the most appropriate treatment and clinic.

The Blue Zinc portal is the first time the entire rehabilitation journey can be managed completely online. It is currently being trialled by a major health services firm and a leading UK insurer.

AI-enabled surgical robot clinical trialled for kidney stone surgery

A team of researchers from Nagoya City University (NCU) Graduate School of Medical Sciences (Nephro-urology) has trialled the use of an AI-powered robot to assist with kidney stone surgery.

The aim was to determine if the Automated Needle Targeting with X-ray (ANT-X), developed by NDR Medical Technology, could deliver better precision in percutaneous renal access, compared with conventional US guidance.

Creating renal access can be tricky in this type of surgery and requires a high level of skill. The AI surgical assistant was found to be easy to use and delivered greater accuracy in creating renal access, leading to improved post-operative outcomes.

The research team conducted a randomised, single-blind controlled trial that compared their robotic-assisted fluroscopic-guided (RAF) method with US-guided PCNL. There were 71 patients participating in the research.

Researchers found that the average number of needle punctures were significantly fewer in the RAF group (1.82 times), compared to the US group (2.51 times). In addition, in 14.3 per cent of the US cases renal access was not possible due to procedural difficulty and needed a surgeon change. None of the RAF cases experienced this.

The median needle puncture duration was also shorter in the RAF group (5.5 minutes), than the US group (8 minutes).

Overall the low needle puncture frequency and shorter puncture duration may lead to better long-term outcomes for patients. Multiple renal accesses during this type of surgery are directly linked to post-op complications such as decreased renal function.

The results of the trial were published in June 2022 in The Journal of Urology.

Accurx report says digital triage-first PIFU could tackle appointment backlog

Accurx has projected that incorporating a digital triage-first Patient Initiated Follow Up (PIFU) into outpatient services, could free up an additional 2.5million appointments a year, delivering approximately £300million back to NHS funds.

The appointment backlog currently stands at 6.5m and is still growing. NHS targets aim to reduce outpatient follow ups by 25 per cent by March 2023 – a target which the communication platform believes the NHS is likely to miss, unless it makes changes.

It believes that by implementing a digital PIFU pathway that has triage at its core, the number of unnecessary follow-up appointments could be cut.

Jacob Haddad, CEO and co-founder of Accurx said: “Until now, Patient Initiated Follow Up has predominantly been framed as a matter of appointment booking, predicated on the idea that an appointment is the default of what a patient needs.

“But this way of implementing PIFU doesn’t harness its full potential, and is also likely to add to the root cause and original need for PIFU pathways – high demand for appointments. PIFU needs to speak to a wider truth about today’s healthcare system: that patient care doesn’t just happen in appointments but through other means, from remote monitoring to advice and guidance.”

North Staffordshire appoints Insource as strategic data partner

North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare has selected Insource to work on its trust-wide data management, statutory reporting and core infrastructure upgrade programme.

As a provider of mental health, social care, learning disability and substance misuse services in the West Midlands, Combined Healthcare has selected a supplier with proven mental health expertise, alongside its end-to-end NHS data management capabilities.

The managed service package will include the Insource Health Data Enterprise (HDE) data management platform which is specifically aligned to mental health. It also includes automated statutory reporting, including Mental Health Services Data Set, which will help form the foundation for BI and analytics for informed care decisions across the organisation.

Vicky Boswell, associate director of performance, North Staffordshire, said: “Combined Healthcare is one of only two specialist mental health trusts in England with an overall ‘Outstanding’ rating from the Care Quality Commission. In order to maintain our standing, meet the evolving needs of our community and match the increasing demands for system-wide unified data access, we wanted a strategic data partner to help us in our journey.

She continued: “We decided on a managed service, as we recognised we didn’t have the expertise or capacity in-house. We also needed the agility to meet any changing data or reporting demands – from the centre or the ICS – which a managed service gives us. But perhaps most important was the accuracy of the data Insource are able to produce, to reflect the quality of the service we provide.”

Combined Healthcare intends to deploy the demand and capacity planning module to develop an understanding of the real capacity demands of adult mental health in the area and to help it manage unplanned changes.

The platform will become an important part of how Combined Healthcare acquires and unifies disparate data, insight and knowledge across the trust’s clinical systems into a single, fully validated, source of truth for clinical activity.

Peppy Health collaborates with Aon

Peppy Health – a former Rewired Pitchfest winner – will be working with global professional services firm Aon plc to help employers manage women’s health in the workplace.

Through the Peppy app, employees will be able to have a chat, a video consultation, join live events or watch video content from specialist health practitioners, with content covering a range of topics including fertility, menopause, early parenthood, pregnancy and more.

Rachel Western, principal, health & risk at Aon, said: “Women’s health in the workplace has grown in prominence in the last year – and not before time. The issue is such that employers now view menopause training and policies as their biggest health strategy aim for next year.”

She continued: “By collaborating with Peppy, we are able to help more women during their working lives, which in turn, helps employers build a more resilient workforce while improving business performance and results.”

The collaboration is effective immediately. While focusing on women’s health, Peppy Health does also provide support to men on topics including fertility, fitness and lifestyle, urology and sexual health amongst others.

South West London Acute Provider Collaborative selects cloud-based medical imaging

South West London Acute Provider Collaborative (SWLAPC) has selected a new enterprise imaging solutions provider and will be moving to a cloud-based solution.

Change Healthcare will be offering its enterprise imaging radiology solutions in the cloud, as a service, including picture archiving and communication system (PACS), workflow, image sharing and vendor neutral archive.

The new solution will help to improve patient experiences, provide long-term efficiencies and enhance medical imaging operations with the use of cloud technology. It will also support SWLAPC’s commitment to transforming clinical care delivery and patient outcomes.

The collaborative comprises four NHS trusts: Epsom and St Helier, Croydon Health Services, St George’s University Hospitals and Kingston Hospital, with the former leading the agreement for SWLAPC.

Peter Davies, group chief digital officer for St George’s, Epsom and St Helier Hospitals Group and senior responsible officer for the contract, said: “We are very pleased to have agreed to this contract with Change Healthcare, which will deliver a dynamic, secure solution that will enable our staff to quickly gain the best information and provide the best care possible across the four SWLAPC trusts.”

Tracy Byers, senior vice president and general manager, Enterprise Imaging at Change Healthcare, added: “By working together with Epsom and St Helier and the wider SWLAPC to move their medical imaging to the cloud, we can transform patient care delivery and create operational efficiencies.”