Your morning summary of digital health news, information and events to know about if you want to be “in the know”.   

👇 News  

😃 Patients preparing for planned surgery at Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital will now be given on-demand access to virtual reality (VR) education resources. The content has been designed to support patients in the run-up to their surgery and to speed up their postoperative recovery. The initiative, Pre-op Assistant, is predicted to reduce the number of last-minute cancellations, improve patient flow through the hospital, and subsequently reduce elective surgery wait times across the trust. Pre-op Assistant is also being made available to NHS Trusts in other regions on request. 

🏥 Extending a project which began out of necessity during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to enable at-home reporting for radiology staff, leading supplier of innovative diagnostic imaging solutions, Hospital Services Limited (HSL) have continued their partnership with Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Teaching Hospital to facilitate flexible working for full time consultants and reporting radiographers, growing the hospital’s initial 9 to 10 at-home Barco workstations to 27 with the help of central funding. 

👨‍🏫 A group of senior experts, including two “godfathers” of AI, have warned that AI companies must be held responsible for the harms caused by their products as powerful AI systems threaten social stability. The policy proposal was created by 23 experts which saw authors and academics also warn that the development of ever more powerful AI systems is ‘utterly reckless’ without a clear understanding of how to make them safe. The warning was made ahead of the Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit which will see international politicians, tech companies, academics and civil society figures gather to discuss how AI can be developed safely, taking place this week. 

💡 An AI-powered lamp has reduced the number of falls in a care home in Cumbria by 84%, with the added benefit of a significant, 28-fold increase in response time when a fall occurs. The Nobi Smart Lamp is an AI powered piece of agetech that is revolutionising fall detection and prevention in care homes in Europe, the US, New Zealand and now in the UK too. The technology has been in use since May this year as part of a pilot that is being funded by NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) at Hartland House in Cumbria.  

🧫 The University of Oxford and Harvard Medical School have developed a new AI tool to predict new variants of viruses before they emerge. The model was tested using information that was only available at the beginning of the pandemic in February 2020. It successfully predicted which mutations would occur and those that would go on to be the most prevalent.  

❓ Did you know that? 

Mental health problems are growing, and depression is the world’s leading cause of disability, costing the UK £117.9 billion every year, which equates to five per cent of UK’s GDP. But there are multiple ways that AI can help people with their wellbeing and health, across mental and physical health.  

📖 What we’re reading 

Cesar de la Fuente believes the next breakthrough antibiotic might come from animals that have been dead for thousands of years. Since 2021, his lab here at the University of Pennsylvania has built algorithms to trawl genetic databases for protein fragments, called peptides, with microbe-squashing properties. They started with human DNA. But more recently, he’s looked deep into the fossilized past, hunting for potential drugs lurking in the code of Neanderthals, giant sloths and woolly mammoths, among other ancient animals, STAT reports. 

🚨 This week’s events 

30-31 October, Business Design Centre, London – Digital Health AI and Data 

31 October, Health Foundation, London – The Future of Healthcare is Digital