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

It’s the first Digital Health Coffee Time Briefing of 2024 – Happy New Year!

👇 News 

❌ New research has discovered the most common medical mistakes, or ‘Never Events’, in NHS hospitals, with wrong site surgery at the top of the list, where a surgical intervention is performed on the wrong patient or the wrong site. It has been recorded 1,584 times over the eight-year period. Mistakes that have happened within this category include the fallopian tube being removed instead of the appendix, the wrong toe being removed, and an injection into the wrong eye. Consequences of this can be mobility dysfunction, worsened injury, and the need to undergo further surgery. 

💰 Eight community pharmacy system suppliers have been awarded grants to make the innovations needed to deliver an electronic prescription service in Wales that will help patients, GPs and pharmacies. Positive Solutions, Apotec and Cegedim Healthcare Solutions are the latest companies to have received support from the Community Pharmacy System Innovation Fund (CPSIF) which was set up by the Digital Medicines Transformation Portfolio (DMTP) in partnership with Life Sciences Hub Wales (LSHW). They join Pharmacy X, Titan PMR (Invatech), Egton Medical (EMIS), Camascope and Clanwilliam who were awarded grants in the first two rounds of funding applications. The grants will help suppliers to develop their systems to use an electronic prescription service (EPS) and receive prescriptions digitally instead of on paper. It will also support the suppliers to introduce innovative changes to their systems that will result in paperless dispensing and integration with the new NHS Wales app when it is launched. 

💊 A team of researchers in the UK and Denmark will begin recruiting patients for a study driven by a pressing question in medicine: How should new obesity medications be incorporated into regular practice? Trials have demonstrated that the powerful drugs can help people shed weight in dramatic ways, but clinicians are still trying to sort out how to best use them. 

🥂 Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption reduces the risk of developing oral cavity and esophagus cancers, according to a special report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. But more data are needed to conclude whether the same is true for several other cancer types, including colorectal, breast, and liver cancer. For oral cancer, ceasing alcohol consumption for five to nine years was linked to a 34% relative risk reduction, and doing so for 10-19 years was linked to a 55% relative risk reduction. For esophageal cancer, ceasing alcohol for five-15 years had a 15% relative risk reduction, and for 15 years or more, was linked to a 65% relative risk reduction. Researchers found limited evidence that the same is true for larynx, colorectum, and breast cancer, and inadequate evidence for pharynx and liver cancer. 

🏃‍♀️ The number of visits to the NHS website’s running programme is expected to quadruple in the first week of January as people attempt to achieve their new year’s resolutions. Figures from NHS England, which runs the NHS website, show that visits to the Get running with Couch to 5K page received 51,900 visits in the first week of January this year – an increase of 260% compared to the weekly average in December 2022 (14,400). This equates to an average of one visit every 12 seconds across the week as many people challenge themselves to get fit and healthy in the new year. 

Did you know that? 

The NHS waiting list for hospital treatment rose to a record of nearly 7.8 million in September 2023. The waiting list rose consistently between 2012 and 2019 and has risen more quickly since early 2021. The 18-week treatment target has not been met since 2016. 

📖 What we’re reading 

How AI can revolutionise healthcare shared at Big Data EventExciting opportunities for how artificial intelligence (AI) can transform health and social care in Wales were shared at a Big Data webinar at the end of November. 

🚨 This week’s events 

4-5 January, London – International Conference on Medical and Health Sciences