The King’s Fund:Clicks and mortar: Technology and the NHS estate

The King’s Fund | May 2019 | The King’s Fund: Clicks and mortar: Technology and the NHS estate

Research conducted by The King’s Fund and supported by NHS Property Services looked at the impact of technology on the NHS estate. While the project acknowledges the impact technology has already had on the NHS estate;  it also identifies a number of factors that can affect the ability of organisations and systems to get the most out of technology and the estate.


 These included:

  • The availability of skills
  • Their engagement with staff and patients
  • Their access to investment
  • Local systems will play a key role in planning technology and the estate across organisations. This includes collaboration across organisations beyond the NHS, and taking advantage of the opportunities that come from working at scale.
  • There is also a clear role for the national NHS bodies in supporting this work. They should support common data and technology standards (so that different systems can talk to each other) and facilitate the sharing of learning across the NHS.

The piece also considers how to get the most of out of technology and the estate


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NHS funds handheld headache-busting device as part of Long Term Plan

A device that can zap away excruciating headaches is to receive NHS England funding from a scheme that helps to spread the use of world-leading technology across the health service | via NHS England

Now the NHS will fund a handheld gadget that uses low-levels of electric current to disrupt pain signals and relieve the suffering of those who are having ‘cluster’ headaches, excruciating attacks of pain.

The NHS Long Term Plan puts cutting-edge treatments at the heart of people’s care, committing to introducing proven and affordable innovations as quickly as possible.

Cluster headaches are rare, but they’re more common in men and tend to start when a person is in their 30s or 40s. The headaches generally begin quickly, with the pain being very severe and often described as a sharp, burning or piercing sensation on one side of the head. The condition is felt around the eye, temple and sometimes face. It tends to occur on the same side for each attack.

The attacks generally last between 15 minutes and three hours, and typically occur between one and eight times a day. The NHS-funded device is placed on the neck where it stimulates the vagus nerve which can lead to a reduction of pain.

Full detail at NHS England

Using a therapeutic companion robot for dementia symptoms in long-term care

Moyle, W. et al. | Using a therapeutic companion robot for dementia symptoms in long-term care: reflections from a cluster-RCT | Aging & Mental Health | Vol. 23 issue 3 | p329-336

Objectives: We undertook a cluster-randomised controlled trial exploring the effect of a therapeutic companion robot (PARO) compared to a look-alike plush toy and usual care on dementia symptoms of long-term care residents. Complementing the reported quantitative outcomes , this paper provides critical reflection and commentary on individual participant responses to PARO, observed through video recordings , with a view to informing clinical practice and research.

Method: A descriptive, qualitative design with five participants selected from the PARO intervention arm of the trial. The trial is registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry

Results: The five participants and their responses to PARO are presented in terms of three issues: i.) Different pre-intervention clinical presentations and different responses; ii.) Same individual, different response – the need for continual assessment and review; and iii.) The ethics of giving and retrieving PARO. Implications for clinical practice and future research are discussed in relation to each issue.

Conclusion: The findings suggest that one approach does not fit all, and that there is considerable variation in responses to PARO. A number of recommendations are discussed to aid the delivery of psychosocial interventions with PARO in practice, as well as to guide future research.

Full detail at Aging & Mental Health

Unlocking the potential of technology in the NHS

Unlocking the potential of technology in the NHS | NHS Providers

To understand why digital transformation in the NHS isn’t happening as quickly as we’d like it to, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers argues we need a dose of realism in the debate. He sets out the five conditions needed to allow trusts to increase the pace of change, and catch up with other public services and the wider economy.

Full detail at NHS Providers

University of Sheffield supports only second scanner of its kind in the UK for Sheffield Children’s Hospital

University of Sheffield | January 2019 | University of Sheffield supports only second scanner of its kind in the UK for Sheffield Children’s Hospital

The University of Sheffield has helped fund a life-changing EOS scanner to help young patients at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, only the second of its kind for children in the UK. 

Based on a Nobel prize-winning invention, EOS provides an ultra-low dose 2D and 3D digital X-ray system and will hugely improve the diagnosis and treatment of orthopaedic patients. Patients can sit or stand, with a complete head-to-toe image provided in 15 seconds or less.

The machine also ensures an 80% reduction in X-ray exposure, reduced waiting times and improved image quality enabling more accurate assessments and surgical planning. It will enhance the already world-leading spinal service at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, which became the first hospital in Europe last year to perform ground-breaking ‘trolley’ surgery to correct a spine curvature.

The machine was made possible thanks to a donation from the Morrisons Foundation, a charity set up by the supermarket, and large donations from The University of Sheffield and David and Jean Fyfe’s 2018 Daffodil Ball in aid of The Children’s Hospital Charity.

The new equipment will particularly aid those patients requiring limb and spine curvature examinations, who will now be able to get a much clearer X-ray. The reduction in radiation exposure will also help those requiring regular scans, such as scoliosis spine patients.

John Somers, Chief Executive of Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said “We are incredibly grateful to the people who support our work here at Sheffield Children’s. Our staff are amazing, providing specialist care with compassion every day. But with the latest equipment and donor-funded facilities, we can go even further to help children both locally and nationally.” (Source: University of Sheffield)

Read the full press release  University of Sheffield supports only second scanner of its kind in the UK for Sheffield Children’s Hospital 



£17m funding for ‘revolutionary’ NHS tech projects

The government has announced the winning projects that will share a £17m fund to develop new technologies which it says will “revolutionise healthcare across the UK”. The projects include developing artificial intelligence for bed availability in hospitals, 3D printing to create tablets, smart phone applications to improve the treatment of complex wounds, and a GPS app to track where porters and available beds are in hospitals.

Full story at OnMedica

Electronic, mobile and telehealth tools for vulnerable patients with chronic disease: a systematic review and realist synthesis

Parker S, Prince A, Thomas L On behalf of the IMPACT Study Group, et al. Electronic, mobile and telehealth tools for vulnerable patients with chronic disease: a systematic review and realist synthesis. BMJ Open 2018;8:e019192. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019192

The objective of this review was to assess the benefit of using electronic, mobile and telehealth tools for vulnerable patients with chronic disease and explore the mechanisms by which these impact patient self-efficacy and self-management.

Setting and participants: Studies of any design conducted in community-based primary care involving adults with one or more diagnosed chronic health condition and vulnerability due to demographic, geographic, economic and/or cultural characteristics.

Results: Eighteen trials were identified targeting a range of chronic conditions and vulnerabilities. The data provided limited insight into the mechanisms underpinning these interventions, most of which sought to persuade vulnerable patients into believing they could self-manage their conditions through improved symptom monitoring, education and support and goal setting. Patients were relatively passive in the interaction, and the level of patient response attributed to their intrinsic level of motivation. Health literacy, which may be confounded with motivation, was only measured in one study, and eHealth literacy was not assessed.

Conclusions: Research incorporating these tools with vulnerable groups is not comprehensive. Apart from intrinsic motivation, health literacy may also influence the reaction of vulnerable groups to technology. Social persuasion was the main way interventions sought to achieve better self-management. Efforts to engage patients by healthcare providers were lower than expected. Use of social networks or other eHealth mechanisms to link patients and provide opportunities for vicarious experience could be further explored in relation to vulnerable groups. Future research could also assess health and eHealth literacy and differentiate the specific needs for vulnerable groups when implementing health technologies.