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

👇 News 

🩸 On 7 January, the American Red Cross, the largest blood supplier in the nation, disclosed a critical national blood shortage. In response, it is leveraging innovative healthcare technologies to streamline the blood donation and distribution process. Mobile apps and online platforms are being used to facilitate blood donation appointments, allowing potential donors to schedule appointments at their convenience. AI is optimising blood distribution, with advanced algorithms analysing real-time blood demand, storage, and expiration data for more precise allocation. Engaging and retaining blood donors is crucial to resolving the shortage, and the American Red Cross is utilising technology to enhance donor outreach. Social media platforms, email campaigns, and personalised communication through mobile apps are being employed to keep donors informed, encourage regular donations, and express gratitude. Wearable technology is also being explored to provide donors with real-time updates on the impact of their contributions.

🚗 Socially Determined, the social risk analytics and solutions company leading the integration of health and social care, has announced a collaboration with Uber Health designed to support individuals and families facing common healthcare challenges including access to supplemental benefits like transportation, food and prescription delivery. The partnership will allow payers and providers to identify, engage, and assist vulnerable Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and commercially insured beneficiaries in achieving improved healthcare outcomes and broader health goals. Uber Health’s comprehensive platform will help unlock seamless benefit coordination by enabling access to transportation, same-day prescription delivery, and grocery and over-the-counter item delivery, where such products are live. With access to patient benefit data and eligibility files from payers, providers can soon leverage existing benefit structures and confidently deploy services that can be covered by insurance.

📑 A first-in-kind AI management system designed to enable the safe, secure and responsible use of AI across society has been launched by BSI, following research showing 61% wanted global guidelines for the technology. The international standard (BS ISO/IEC 42001) is intended to assist organisations in responsibly using AI, addressing considerations like non-transparent automatic decision-making, the utilisation of machine learning instead of human-coded logic for system design, and continuous learning. The guidance, published in the UK by BSI as the UK’s National Standards Body, sets out how to establish, implement, maintain and continually improve an AI management system, with focus on safeguards. It is an impact-based framework that provides requirements to facilitate context-based AI risk assessments, with detail on risk treatments and controls for internal and external AI products and services. 

🙌 YorkTest Laboratories services are now available to more patients via the Boots Health Hub. The move will enable Boots Health Hub to direct customers looking for food intolerance, allergy or other health tests, such as Liver Function, Cholesterol, Vitamin D and Hormone tests, directly to the YorkTest website where they can begin their journey to improved health and wellbeing.

👨‍💻 Computer algorithms that are designed to help doctors treat people with schizophrenia do not adapt well to fresh, unseen data, a study has found. Such tools — which use AI to spot patterns in large data sets and predict how individuals will respond to a particular treatment — are central to precision medicine, in which healthcare professionals try to tailor treatment to each person. In work published on 11 January in Science, researchers showed that AI models can predict treatment outcomes with high accuracy for people in a sample that they were trained on. But their performance drops to little better than chance when applied to subsets of the initial sample, or to different data sets. To be effective, prediction models need to be consistently accurate across different cases, with minimal bias or random outcomes. 

Did you know that?

Newly released NHS data has revealed that a staggering 157,809 patients were waiting for an autism assessment in September 2023 – a 50% increase in only one year. The news comes as research from Brain in Hand has revealed that the lives of 93% of autistic people are being negatively impacted by their mental health, with those waiting for an assessment more likely to experience negative mental health and anxiety versus those who have been diagnosed. 

📖 What we’re reading

How healthtech is changing mental health management – Anne Lepetit, chief medical officer at Bupa Group, explains how health technology is transforming mental health management and helping more people to hit their health goals in 2024 

🚨 This week’s events 

16 January 9.30-13.00, The Health Foundation – Net zero NHS: Imagining the future