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

👇 News  

🖥 In a mission to build digital inclusion across Sunderland, new Community Digital Health Hubs are being set up to help people get online safely, offering residents free access to devices, Wi-Fi and support to build their digital confidence and skills. Launching across 22 locations from February, the project, which has received funding from the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF), aims to tackle digital challenges faced by cities across the globe, such as limited connectivity, lack of access to digital infrastructure, and the cost barriers associated with going online. It is a collaboration between Sunderland City Council, leading neutral host provider Boldyn Networks, the British Esports Federation and 22 trusted community partners, and forms part of a wider scheme, Links for Life, which was recently launched across Sunderland to empower communities to improve their physical and mental health and wellbeing. 

🔒 Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has selected Idox’s iAssets asset tracking solution to improve patient safety, clinical staff productivity, and overall efficiency. The solution will use GS1-compliant passive RFID tags to enable real-time tracking of all equipment that moves around the hospital. Designed to deliver a safe, cost-effective way to track hospital equipment, with Scan4safety and GS1 compliance at its core, iAssets will support the trust to substantially reduce the time spent searching for, servicing and auditing equipment and reduce the cost of re-procuring missing assets.  

😔 The increasing need for mental health support and a shortage of therapists have led to the development of the eXtended-reality AI Assistant (XAIA). This platform combines spatial computing, virtual reality (VR), and AI to provide immersive mental health support. Speaking with an AI therapy avatar in VR was considered acceptable, helpful, and safe, with participants observed to engage genuinely with the program. However, some still favored human interaction and identified shortcomings with using a digital VR therapist. The study, in Nature, provides initial evidence of the acceptability and safety of AI psychotherapy via spatial computing, warranting further research on technical enhancements and clinical impact. 

👨‍⚕️ Eight separate databases for the Welsh Nursing Care Record (WNCR) have been replaced with a single national instance. The upgrade went live in November 2023 and replaces multiple instances at each of Wales’ seven health boards and Velindre Trust with a single national database. It will bring additional economies of scale and efficiencies, with the WNCR support team now only having to manage one database. 

🧫 Researchers from Cleveland Clinic and IBM have found that AI models can help provide insights into how antigen peptides interact with immune cells, which could be used to identify more effective immunotherapy targets, according to a study published recently in Briefings in Bioinformatics. 

❓ Did you know that? 

In all English regions, Northern Ireland and Wales, life expectancy at birth in 2020 to 2022 was lower than in 2017 to 2019, according to new data from the Office of National Statistics. In 2020 to 2022, the English regions with the highest and lowest male life expectancy, respectively, were the South East (80.1 years) and the North East (77.2 years), a gap of 3.0 years. In 2020 to 2022, the English regions with the highest and lowest female life expectancy, respectively, were the South West (83.9 years) and the North East (81.2 years), a gap of 2.8 years.  

🔊 What we’re listening to 

The Digital Health Transformation Service at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, in collaboration with the School and Public Health Nurses Association (SAPHNA) today launches its ‘School Nursing Uncovered’ podcast. This is a series podcast for school nurses by school nurses, with lively discussions on the challenges and issues affecting children, young people and families across the UK, including: the role of the school nurse, mental health, vaping, gender identity, safeguarding and healthy lifestyles. Listen to the podcast here, or search ‘School Nursing Uncovered’ on your favourite podcast app.. 

🚨 This week’s events 

Tuesday 30 January, online – What’s In Store for health and care in 2024, The King’s Fund

Thursday 1 February, University of Oxford – Digital Care Hub, the Institute for Ethics in AI and Reuben College, Oxford, and Casson Consulting, co-host an AI roundtable event