Introducing a Children’s Health Smartphone App at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust

NHS | January 2019 | Introducing a Children’s Health Smartphone App at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust

NHS England shares a case study that considers the impact of a smartphone app  on the development and implementation of a children’s health smartphone application. The app has significantly improved patient, carer and family experience as well as better use of resources locally (Source: NHS England).

pexels-photo-238480.jpegRead the full case study at NHS England 


High-performance medicine: the convergence of human and artificial intelligence

Topol, E.J. | 2019| High-performance medicine: the convergence of human and artificial intelligence| Nature Medicine | 25| P.44–56|

A review article from Eric Topol, published in Nature Medicine, considers high-performance medicine. For Topol the impact of artifical intelligence (AI) is at three levels: for clinicians (Radiology, Opthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Gastroenterology); AI and health systems; AI and patients; AI and data analysis. The review also considers some of the limitations and challenges surrounding bias, privacy and security, and lack of transparency , before concluding with discussion of some future considerations. 



The use of artificial intelligence, and the deep-learning subtype in particular, has been enabled by the use of labeled big data, along with markedly enhanced computing power and cloud storage, across all sectors. In medicine, this is beginning to have an impact at three levels: for clinicians, predominantly via rapid, accurate image interpretation; for health systems, by improving workflow and the potential for reducing medical errors; and for patients, by enabling them to process their own data to promote health. The current limitations, including bias, privacy and security, and lack of transparency, along with the future directions of these applications will be discussed in this article. Over time, marked improvements in accuracy, productivity, and workflow will likely be actualized, but whether that will be used to improve the patient–doctor relationship or facilitate its erosion remains to be seen.

Read the full review from Nature

How virtual reality is changing medical practice: “Doctors want to use this to give better patient outcomes”

BMJ | January 2019| How virtual reality is changing medical practice: “Doctors want to use this to give better patient outcomes”

A new feature in the BMJ describes how technology is having an impact on areas such as perioperative planning, medical training, psychiatry and palliative care and specifically how virtual reality is changing medical practice. 

Read the full piece at the BMJ 

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GP IT Futures framework announced

IT systems in GP practices will be replaced with modern technology under widespread changes announced by the Health and Social Care Secretary | via Department of Health and Social Care

The GP IT Futures framework will create an open, competitive market to encourage the best technology companies to invest in the NHS. All systems will be required to meet minimum standards to ensure they can talk to each other across boundaries.

The current market is dominated by 2 main providers, which slows down innovation and traps GP practices in long-term contracts with systems that are not suited to the digital age.

The framework will look at how patient data will be moved to modern cloud services to allow clinicians and patients to securely access crucial, life-saving information in real time. imac-1999636_1920

By 2023 to 2024 the Department of Health and Social Care want every patient in England to be able to access GP services digitally, with practices able to offer online or video consultations.

The changes will free up staff time and reduce delays by allowing seamless, digitised flows of information between GP practices, hospitals and social care settings. It builds on Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock’s tech vision for the NHS.

The new standards, developed by NHS Digital, will introduce minimum technical requirements so systems can talk to each other securely and are continuously upgradable.

Any system that does not meet these standards will not be used by the NHS and the government will look to end contracts with providers that do not understand these principles for the health and care sector.

Full story: Matt Hancock: shake-up of GP IT will remove outdated systems

Benefits of digital technology in maternity services

A new report shows for the first time how digitally ‘savvy’ maternity services in England are – and aims to drive up the better use of technology | NHS Digital

The majority of maternity providers are making a good start at using digital technology, according to the Maternity Digital Maturity Assessment report, produced by NHS Digital.

Greater use of digital technology will help maternity staff and services to provide better care for patients and more effectively use resources.

All 135 maternity providers completed an assessment of their progress in adopting digital technology, such as providing electronic health records, sharing information digitally and giving patients access to online resources. The assessment also looked at how much investment was being made in software, equipment and infrastructure.

Providers were assessed according to their level of digital maturity with the results helping organisations identify their strengths and gaps in the use of digital services and highlighting common challenges faced by maternity providers and potential solutions which could help them improve their digital maturity.


Recommendations include encouraging greater collaboration, so that the more digitally mature maternity providers share their expertise with the handful who had low maturity levels. The report also reinforces important messages around the need to identify and support digital leaders at all levels throughout maternity services.

Full detail: Insight into digital uptake in maternity services aims to bring benefits of technology to mums | NHS Digital

Full report: Maternity Digital Maturity Assessment report | NHS England

Making NHS data work for everyone

This report from Reform looks at the access and use of data held by the NHS for product and service development purposes by the private sector.


The report suggests that benefits can emerge from the NHS partnering with the private sector to develop healthcare technologies. The private sector can provide skills and know-how to develop data-driven tools whilst the NHS makes the data available alongside medical expertise – described as the “value exchange”.

• Engaging with the public on how data about them is used within the NHS is crucial. However, no public-sector models exist that allow patients to participate in the conversation about what a fair value exchange might be. The report recommends that this should change.
• The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) needs to create a national strategy, which provides a framework for the array of possible models that will not have an adverse effect at the national level. The report presents the first table of commercial models that could be explored.
• The paper suggests that transparency over data quality could be increased. It also suggests a way in which access to data could be sped up without compromising individuals’ privacy.
• The report recommends that the DHSC should invest in creating a new independent unit to help NHS organisations negotiate fair and proportionate partnerships.

Full report: Making NHS data work for everyone | Reform