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

👇 News  

🧑‍⚕️ In June 2024, Belfast Trust will become the largest trust in Northern Ireland to implement encompass – the new digital health and care system. Having supported South Eastern Trust in the successful implementation and roll out of encompass in November 2023, Belfast Trust will wave goodbye to paper records and begin the journey towards digital health and social care services in 2024. encompass is a clinically and operationally led programme that will give every person in Northern Ireland their own health and social care record. The introduction of this new system will place health and social care in Northern Ireland at the forefront of the digital transformation of health service delivery. 

🧫 Antimicrobial-resistance is a global health scourge, one made worse by the spread of bacteria impervious to multiple antibiotics among patients wounded in the Ukrainian war. Rates of antimicrobial resistance were already high in Ukraine, but a survey of three Ukrainian hospitals published yesterday by the CDC found many patients had war-wound infections that were difficult or impossible to treat because they were caused by resistant bacteria. Gaps in infection prevention and control as well as lab capacity may be causing delays in identifying these dangerous germs, potentially leading to spread in Ukraine and beyond its borders. An example of the problem: Among 353 patients on surveyed hospital wards, 50 had health care–associated infections. 

🏛 The FDA announced in October the creation of a digital health advisory committee which will help the agency better understand the risks and benefits of emerging health care technology such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality. 

💪 A novel digital health coaching program did not improve patient-reported outcomes among individuals with active breast cancer, according to study results presented at San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. Additional research is needed to identify best practices for digital health care interventions, researchers concluded. 

🧳 The rapid global spread of infectious diseases, epitomised by the recent Covid-19 pandemic, has highlighted the critical need for effective cross-border pandemic management strategies. Digital health passports (DHPs), which securely store and facilitate the sharing of critical health information, including vaccination records and test results, have emerged as a promising solution to enable safe travel and access to essential services and economic activities during pandemics. However, the implementation of DHPs faces several significant challenges.  

❓ Did you know that? 

Health Foundation survey in late November found that while more than three quarters of the public (78%) are happy to use technology to monitor their health at home instead of in hospital – and only 13% are unhappy – only 34% would be happy with a robot providing some of their personal care, like help with washing and dressing, with 48% unhappy. (This lack of support for robotic care assistants is consistent with a previous Health Foundation survey, where 47% of people felt that having a robotic rather than human carer ‘risks undermining a person’s dignity’ and would be ‘impersonal and dehumanising’.)

📖 What we’re reading 

The traditionally conservative health care landscape has undergone massive and rapid technological disruption in the past decade. The explosion of generative AI and Large Language Models (LLMs) outpaced any wave of innovation that we’ve seen. While these innovations are being hailed as potential solutions to many of the challenges plaguing health care, the digital health industry faces a harsh reality check. The once-soaring sector is grappling with market corrections, leading to the shutdown of unicorn startups and raising questions about its future. How does this situation resolve? A column from Medical Economics makes some predictions for 2024. 

🚨 This week’s events 

12 December, 9am-3pm Digital Networks Exchange December – Unlocking digital maturity in healthcare: levelling up for success