NHS Digital is to run a series of trials which will explore how wireless technologies can support the delivery of better health and care.

The Wireless Centre of Excellence trials will allow NHS organisations to access funding for wireless technology that has the potential to improve connectivity in health and care settings.

The scheme is now open for application and although designed as a one-year programme, longer trials will be considered. Applications should outline and overview of their wireless project and its objectives, the anticipated outcome and the impact it will hopefully have. In addition they should explain the healthcare need or technological challenge they are aiming to overcome.

Patrick Clark, NHS Digital’s director of infrastructure services, said: “Wireless technologies will continue to play an increasingly important role as the NHS looks to implement new models of care to allow patients to receive treatment at home or in mobile health settings.

“They will also help provide clinicians with access to data and digital systems wherever they need it. We are already seeing many of the benefits of cutting-edge wireless technology and innovation – from enabling real-time remote diagnosis in a mobile health unit to supporting live observations in the first 5G hospital in the UK.”

Previous incarnations of the NHS Digital wireless trials have included University College London Hospitals’ Find and Treat service. This uses high-tech tools and software to deliver real-time remote diagnosis and referrals from a mobile health unit. The service targets vulnerable, homeless and high risk people in London.

More recently, an NHS Digital-funded wireless trial saw South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust become the first 5G-connected hospital in the UK. Digital innovations, such as the eObs app, allow clinicians to update patient records digitally and make real-time observations.

“These projects are a step-forward in digital transformation and will bring an array of benefits, particularly for those least able to access healthcare and for digitally isolated hospitals and health centres,” continued Clark. “We look forward to working with successful trialists this year to further realise the benefits of wireless technologies and high-speed connectivity in improving healthcare.”

Applications for the NHS Digital Wireless Centre of Excellence trials are open until 29 July.