Royal Wolverhampton implements tool to predict use of PPE #covid19rftlks

Health Tech Newspaper | July 2020 | Royal Wolverhampton implements tool to predict use of PPE

An innovative tool has enabled The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust to utilise technology from TeleTracking to report on, measure and predict Personal Protective Equipment numbers.

The tool allowed the trust to measure and map the amount of PPE needed day-by-day and week-by-week by front-line staff; with NHS guidance and modelled it in line with the predicted trends of the Covid-19 virus.

The data collected between 10 March – 9t April highlighted that across five wards, there were on average 21 staff interactions per Covid-19 patient each day. The data also showed a trend which suggested that the requirement for PPE would increase by a factor of 1.5 every 7 days, so the requirement on any day will be 50% higher than was needed 7 days prior.

The full story is available from Health Tech Newspaper

How computational immunology changed the face of COVID-19 vaccine development #covid19rftlks

Arnold, C (2020)|How computational immunology changed the face of COVID-19 vaccine development |Nature Medicine

Only 6 months after the first identification of the causative coronavirus, vaccine candidates against COVID-19 are already in clinical trials. The secret weapon behind the speed of development? Computational immunology.

When Chinese officials posted the sequence of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 on 10 January 2020, it triggered a race among vaccine manufacturers. Historically, this process has taken years, even decades. The vaccine against the Ebola virus, which zoomed through human trials in a record-breaking 5 years, took more than twice as long in preclinical development. However, SARS-CoV-2 was different. Within a few hours, several companies had developed potential vaccine targets.

Understanding the immune system is a tall order, says Maggie Ackerman, an immunologist at Dartmouth College, in Hanover, New Hampshire. It is why so many scientists like her have turned to computational and informatics approaches, mathematical models that have become so sophisticated they can predict which parts of a novel pathogen will be recognized by B cells and T cells or create targeted immunotherapies against tumor cells.

When the novel coronavirus struck, years of work on these models meant that scientists were poised to respond immediately. By being able to predict the exact parts of SARS-CoV-2 that would elicit an immune response, scientists have been able to sprint through the early stages of vaccine development and into animal trials.

“These approaches offer incredible speed at getting from genetic sequence to a candidate vaccine. Nothing can compete with that,” says Ackermann (Source: Nature Medicine).

Read the full piece in Nature Medicine

NHSX: NHS Harnesses Coronavirus Forecasting Tech To Help Save Lives #covid19rftlks

NHS X | 15 July 2020 |NHS Harnesses Coronavirus Forecasting Tech To Help Save Lives

NHS teams are being given access to cutting-edge predictive technology to help them save lives by forecasting coronavirus hospitalisations.

As the Government eases lockdown, the new Joint Biosecurity Centre is being asked to give the NHS locally advance warning of any uptick in coronavirus admissions.

Despite many predictions to the contrary, the NHS was not overwhelmed by the first wave of COVID-19, in which over 100,000 emergency coronavirus patients have been cared for in hospital, while also providing urgent services such as A&E, cancer and mental health.

Now the country is through the first phase of the virus, the NHS is working to increase routine services that had to pause during the peak of the epidemic, while also remaining ready to deal with smaller localised outbreaks.

The rollout of the new technology, built and developed by artificial intelligence firm Faculty, will help local teams balance these priorities on a day to day basis, helping clinicians and scientists to model and predict hospitalisations up to three weeks in advance.

It works by learning from the data from previous outbreaks such as bed use and early warning indicators such as 111 call volumes, to model what might happen in the future (Source: NHS X). 

Full information from NHS X

NIHR: Artificial intelligence to understand clusters of multiple long-term conditions: An NIHR priority

NIHR | July 2020 | Artificial intelligence to understand clusters of multiple long-term conditions: An NIHR priority

NIHR is launching a new funding call to harness the potential of artificial intelligence to meet the challenge of multiple long-term conditions (multimorbidity). Shakti Patel, Research Programme Manager at the Department of Health and Social Care, explains how NIHR and DHSC have consulted with the AI research community to ensure this call will deliver high quality and ambitious research.

A substantial and growing number of people around the world suffer from two or more long-term conditions, referred to as multiple long-term conditions or multimorbidity (MLTC-M). Having multiple long-term conditions affects quality of life, leads to poorer health outcomes and experiences of care, and accounts for disproportionate healthcare workload and costs. Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England and joint head of NIHR, has reiterated the importance of MLTC-M as a research priority.

Diseases often cluster together due to common risk factors, rather than chance. Understanding and mapping the clusters of conditions that occur more frequently in the population than we might expect is crucial for tackling the problem of MLTC-M. Advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning and statistical methods offer huge potential to identify and understand more about trajectories in the development of clusters of disease. It will enable us to uncover new mechanisms for disease, to develop treatments, and to reconfigure services to better meet patients’ needs. 

Further information available from NIHR

NHS Digital: How we’re supporting COVID-19 convalescent plasma trials

NHS Digital | June 2020 | How we’re supporting COVID-19 convalescent plasma trials

NHS Blood and Transplant is investigating the effectiveness of treating coronavirus patients with plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19.

Around the world, researchers are racing to find an effective treatment for coronavirus (COVID-19). A range of potential treatments have been suggested, including convalescent plasma therapy.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood taken from people who have recovered from COVID-19, which may contain antibodies that prevent the coronavirus from entering and infecting cells in the body.

There’s evidence to suggest that transfusing COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma could improve their recovery time and increase their chance of survival. NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) are involved in two clinical trials – REMAP-CAP and RECOVERY – to establish if treatment with convalescent plasma does benefit patients and if so, at what point in their illness they should be treated.

Full details from NHS Digital

NHSX publishes £3m tender to help phase out pagers

Digital Health | 25 June 2020| NHSX publishes £3m tender to help phase out pagers

 £3million tender for the provision of communication services to replace out-dated pagers is now open to bidders.

NHSX revealed it was looking to create a framework for NHS trusts to procure communication services in May.

The tender for a clinical communication tools framework was published last week and is set to close on 6 July. The contract is due to commence on 27 July, 2020 and run until 26 July, 2022, with a potential extension for 12 months.

Prior to the tender being published a notice from NHSX said the Covid-19 pandemic has “accelerated the need to urgently deliver” health secretary Matt Hancock’s plan to phase out pagers by the end of 2021.

“The agreed approach, therefore, needs to ensure that NHS trusts can award contracts to suitably qualified and experienced suppliers who can deliver against this requirement, whilst promoting innovation and delivering against a digital maturity model,” the tender states.

The solutions must enable secure messaging; image sharing; staff directory linked to the address book; and calls.

Video calls, patient lists; task management; and electronic patient record integration were listed on the tender as “optional functionality”.

Solutions also have to be compliant with GDPR and UK data protection laws.

It is hoped such tools will “address critical pain points for clinical and/or operational teams” and can be “be downloaded onto mobile devices or tablet device”.

Joost Bruggeman, chief executive of Siilo who has previously spoken of the need to replace pagers, said: “Beyond knowledge and compassion, modern healthcare professionals need to be good communicators to advocate for their patients. But just like the stethoscope can no longer compete with modern imaging diagnostics, so has the pager past its prime compared to messaging apps.

“Maintaining open and up-to-date lines of communication is crucial for hospitals dealing with a growing number of patients under ever-changing circumstances. The spread of coronavirus has made the need for efficient mobile communication even more urgent, so that medical professionals can operate with agility.”

Hancock announced in February 2019 that he was going to war with pagers.

NHS trusts will be required to phase out pagers by the end of 2021, with all hospitals expected to have plans and infrastructure in place to ensure this is possible by the end of September 2020.

Staff are expected use modern alternatives, such as mobile phones and apps, which can deliver more accurate two-way communications at a reduced cost.

More information on the tender can be found here.


NHSX launches national patient video library #covid19rftlks

Health Tech News | June 2020 | NHSX launches national patient video library

As part of the NHSX COVID-19 response, a national video library has been launched in collaboration with healthcare video provider, Health and Care Innovations.

The videos have been developed with NHS clinicians to work within care pathways to help patients; to help support a reduction in length of appointments, and to enable patients to better understand their condition and how to manage their care at home.

NHSX has procured the video library of over 600 patient information videos on a 6 month licence, to make it available free for users.

Full details from Health Tech News 

Harnessing the momentum within health tech post-Covid-19

Health Tech Newspaper | June 2020 | Harnessing the momentum within health tech post-Covid-19

This feature compiles the thoughts of health tech providers, as to whether healthcare has had its online banking moment, to understand some considerations and to hear from the industry if the momentum can be sustained. Leaders of various different tech companies provide insight into health tech following COVID-19.

Read the article here

Supporting people with long-term conditions during national emergencies

Supporting people with long-term conditions (LTCs) during national emergencies | Oxford COVID-19 Evidence Service Team

Disruption of care, diversion of healthcare resources, and interruptions to medical supplies can all impact patients with long term conditions (LTCs) during national emergencies. Some LTCs may be further exacerbated by increased stress and changes in diet and activity patterns. The data does not rule out any LTCs as not being at risk of neglect, but particularly highlights cardiovascular disease, diabetes, older people and people in deprived areas as being at increased risk.

Suggestions for mitigation strategies can be grouped into planning and response phases, and broadly focus on collaboration, communication, and continuity planning. Such consideration may be needed during the current Covid-19 pandemic. Recent guidance from the Royal College of General Practitioners may facilitate this.

This review found:

  • Evidence relating to LTC management during medical emergencies, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, is mainly focussed on the direct impact of infection on people living with LTCs
  • There is limited evidence on the indirect effects of pandemics on LTCs, mainly relating to changes in healthcare provision. Evidence from natural disasters is more prevalent, but may be limited in its generalisability.
  • The evidence we do have suggests LTCs are at risk of neglect during pandemics and national emergencies. Diabetes and cardiovascular disease have been particular focuses for research, but whether this is because these are the conditions most affected is not clear. Older adults and people living in deprived communities may be particularly at risk.
  • Suggestions for mitigation of indirect risks include coordination, communication, patient education, and continuity planning.
  • Practitioners may consider ways of proactively identifying those patients with LTC most at risk of suboptimal management to ensure their necessary care is maintained.

Full detail: Supporting people with long-term conditions (LTCs) during national emergencies 

Dementia: Cancer scanner ‘could help early diagnoses’

BBC News | 22 February 2020 | Dementia: Cancer scanner ‘could help early diagnoses’

A cancer scanner could be used to identify some of the earliest and most difficult to diagnose forms of dementia, scientists have said.

Doctors at University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff said its PET scanner could show signs of the condition in people who are not showing symptoms.

About 47% of people in Wales living with dementia do not have a diagnosis.

The Welsh Government said it is investing £10m a year in its dementia action plan (Source: BBC News).

The full story is available from BBC News