The latest Digital Health News industry roundup includes the growth of a clinical trial software-as-a-service solution, a new app for patient telecoms and a strategic partnership for Google Cloud.

The new AI4HealthyCities Health Equity Network has launched in New York City, using data and analytics to target heart health inequalities.  

The network comes from the Novartis Foundation, Microsoft AI for Health and NYU School of Global Public Health, and will challenge the current reality of neighbouring areas showing drastic differences in residents’ heart health.  

While New York City is the first to be announced in the network, additional cities will be added. Each city programme will study a different factor that may influence heart health such as structural racism, housing, or education. 

Dr Ann Aerts, head of the Novartis Foundation, said: “Whether at a global or local level, health inequities are shaped by economic status and access to resources. 

“In New York and other cities, we believe that data and AI-driven insights can help stakeholders make informed decisions on impactful urban heart health interventions that ultimately reach the greatest number of people.”  

AI4HealthyCities will bring together data from the health and health-influencing sectors and then apply data science techniques to gather insights into the main drivers of cardiovascular disease. The data can then be used by authorities to help shape the current reactive care system, into proactive, predictive and preventative health systems.

X-on launches Phonebar app for patient messaging 

Cloud telephony provider X-on has launched Phonebar, an app that will consolidate telecoms and patient communications onto the GP desktop.  

Phonebar is already available to GP surgeries using the EMIS record system, with those using SystmOne and Vision to be offered the new app soon.    

Paul Bensley, managing director of X-on, said: “We all know that primary care is under enormous pressure, and that GPs need new and effective ways to handle calls and virtual consultations.  

“Phonebar is a telecommunications tool that is designed to address those demands, by enabling GPs to receive and make phone and video calls and communicate with patients without leaving the desktop. 

“Phonebar pins to the taskbar, from where it can be maximised to handle calls, send SMS and photo requests, and file call recordings and documents back to the GP record; creating a more seamless working environment for GPs and joined-up service for patients.”  

Wi-Fi SPARK launches SPARK TSL 

WiFi SPARK is offering NHS trusts and health boards an alternative to their Hospedia contracts – with a new business model, improved bedside units and more intuitive access to entertainment and communication services.  

SPARK TSL’s business model steps away from Hospedia’s admin-heavy, patient-pays model. Instead the cost of upgrading the terminals and running SPARK Media will be met by trusts, health boards or their charities. 

Matt O’Donovan, founder and chief executive of WiFi SPARK, said: “When we took over the management of Hospedia, we said our ambition was to change its business model from ‘patient pays’ to ‘free at the point of use’.  

“The creation of SPARK TSL delivers on that ambition, while enabling trusts to roll-out modernised bedside units, and media and communications packages that will deliver for their organisation, staff and patients alike.” 

O’Donovan continued: “We know that the NHS is facing unprecedented demand and significant financial challenges right now. However, as concern mounts about the cost-of-living crisis, asking patients to pay for news and information, and to keep in touch with their loved-ones, is no longer tenable.  

“Instead, trusts should be thinking about how they can fund these services themselves; not least by making better use of their bedside infrastructure to give staff access to the digital tools that can help them to deliver better services while making worthwhile time and cost savings.” 

New SPARK Horizon bedside terminals can be mounted on walls or placed on wheeled trolleys and workstations. A refreshed SPARK Media package offers an improved user interface, as well as access to news, hospital information, charity links and a library of apps. It is also available as a bring-your-own-device solution. 

WiFi SPARK’s parent company Volaris Group, acquired Hospedia in November 2021, with WiFi SPARK taking over the management of the company. WiFi SPARK is now looking to expand its library of patient-focused apps, to enable trusts to customise their solution and improve on user satisfaction.  

Cognizant’s life sciences SaaS solution gains over 250,000 global users 

Cognizant’s Shared Investigator Platform (SIP) has grown to more than a quarter of a million users, across 100 countries worldwide.  

SIP is a life sciences Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution that streamlines clinical trials to speed up the discovery of new pharmaceutical drugs. The platform facilitates research and collaboration globally, by enabling clinical study documents and safety notifications to be securely and easily exchanged across site and sponsor teams.  

Surya Gummadi, Cognizant’s SVP of global health sciences, said: “As the world continues to fight new disease outbreaks, the ability for Biopharmaceutical and Clinical and Academic Research organisations to collaborate virtually has become more important than ever. 

“The speed and efficiency that SIP enables is critical in reducing administrative burdens and expediting the pace at which new life-saving therapies can be brought to market. Cognizant is proud to be a leader in helping the biopharmaceutical industry leverage new technologies, including the cloud, to advance drug discovery and support global health needs.” 

The digital solution is helping to accelerate drug discovery and modernise clinical trials. SIP is used by seven of the largest global biopharmaceutical companies, including Merck.  

AI company Spoon Guru teams up with Google Cloud 

AI nutrition technology company Spoon Guru has formed a strategic partnership with Google Cloud to deliver innovative grocery retail solutions. 

The new partnership will make personalised digital nutrition services more widely available anywhere, anytime. Spoon Guru’s commerce solutions will be available on Google Cloud Marketplace, enabling retailers to deploy Spoon Guru solutions to their own Google Cloud environment.  

This will support retailers in helping shoppers to make healthier choices, with more personalised experiences that effectively engage users.  

Spoon Guru’s proprietary algorithm delivers high accuracy when it comes to recommending the right foods for individuals’ needs.  

Markus Stripf, co-founder and CPMO of Spoon Guru, said: “Spoon Guru’s partnership with Google Cloud represents a significant step forward to helping global retailers provide accurate and personalised food recommendations for their customers, and ultimately further our mission to improve people’s lives by helping them eat well and live better.” 

The first solution to be developed will be a product search and recommendations engine.