NHS health information available through Amazon’s Alexa

The NHS is collaborating with Amazon to provide reliable health information from the NHS website through voice-assisted technology | Department of Health and Social Care

Voice-assisted technology will help patients, especially the elderly, blind and those who cannot access the internet through traditional means, to get professional, NHS-verified health information in seconds, through simple voice commands.

Amazon’s algorithm uses information from the NHS website to provide answers to voice questions such as:

  • “Alexa, how do I treat a migraine?”
  • “Alexa, what are the symptoms of flu?”
  • “Alexa, what are the symptoms of chickenpox”

amazon-echo-dot-3597986_1280.pngThe technology has the potential to reduce the pressure on the NHS and GPs by providing information for common illnesses.

Voice search has been increasing rapidly. By 2020, half of all searches are expected to be made through voice-assisted technology.

NHSX will look at ways of making more NHS services available to all patients through digital technology. The announcement supports the commitment in the NHS Long Term Plan to make more NHS services available digitially.

Full story at Department of Health and Social Care

Patient Safety Strategy

The NHS patient safety strategy | NHS Improvement 

This strategy sets out what the NHS will do to achieve its vision to continuously improve patient safety.  To do this the NHS will build on two foundations: a patient safety culture and a patient safety system.

Three strategic aims will support the development of both:
• improving understanding of safety by drawing intelligence from multiple
sources of patient safety information (Insight)
• equipping patients, staff and partners with the skills and opportunities to
improve patient safety throughout the whole system (Involvement)
• designing and supporting programmes that deliver effective and sustainable
change in the most important areas (Improvement).

Full document: The NHS Patient Safety Strategy. Safer culture, safer systems, safer
patients

See also: How data can shape a safer NHS|  Nuffield Trust blog

Using data-driven technologies to transform mental healthcare

Making the right choices: Using data-driven technologies to transform mental healthcare | Reform 

This report examines the current landscape of data-driven technologies and their applications in mental healthcare, highlighting areas where these tools offer the most potential for the NHS and its patients.  It discusses what makes mental health different from other areas of health, and the implications this has for the application of data-driven tools. It examines barriers to implementation, and proposes ways to move forward.

Key recommendations:

  • The National Institute for Care and Health Excellence should make guidelines and protocols machine-readable to inform Clinical Decision Support Systems used in mental healthcare. This would make the guidelines more accessible to frontline practitioners and enable the guidelines to be continuously improved in accordance with up-to-date clinical evidence.
  • In order to improve understanding of mental health conditions, NHS Digital should develop a repository using data held by NHS organisations to help researchers securely identify suitable participants for mental health research studies and assess the feasibility of research projects at early stages. Similar governance frameworks to the Scottish Health Research Register should be employed.
  • NHSX should require all healthcare providers to design interoperable systems and ensure data portability. This would allow data generated from technologies such as wearables and sensors to be transferred across platforms.

Full report: Making the right choices: Using data-driven technologies to transform mental healthcare

Data-Driven Tech in Mental Healthcare: Why is this research important?

 

 

How One Junior Doctor Is Developing Tech To Modernize The NHS

Forbes | June 2019| How One Junior Doctor Is Developing Tech To Modernize The NHS

A new article in Forbes magazine, highlights the work of Paediatrician, Dr Lydia Yarlott a junior doctor who is using technology to  improve efficiencies across the NHS and accelerate patient care. In 2016 Dr Yarlott created Forward, a messaging platform which is a safe alternative to WhatsApp and older technology such as pagers. 

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Yarlott’s invention will  make it easier for doctors and nurses to communicate in hospitals and give them more life-saving time. One estimate is that the NHS uses 130,000 pagers alone, which represents 10% of global usage and costs £6.6 million yearly.

Yarlott says:”We are developing Forward as a smartphone app which clinicians download for free and use to contact one another, exchange patient information and make decisions, and manage their workload,” (Source: Forbes)

Read the full news story at Forbes 

Smartphones improve adherence for TB treatment, instead of direct supervision

NIHR | June 2019 | Smartphones instead of direct supervision can improve adherence rates for TB treatment

New research indicates that for people who require direct supervision, also known as directly-observed therapy in community and outpatient settings,  using smartphones and clinical attendance can improve levels of adherence. 

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Observation is reserved for those at risk of not completing treatment because they have socially complex lives or mental illness. The study aimed to identify whether video surveillance can improve levels of adherence.

The randomised controlled trial (RCT) included over 200 patients, randomised into receiving standard observation or video observation; direct observations were carried out between three and five times per week, those assigned to video observation by smartphone were trained to record video footage of them taking each dose (Source: NIHR).

Read the NIHR Signal here 

Full reference: Story, A. 2019| Smartphone-enabled video-observed versus directly observed treatment for tuberculosis: a multicentre, analyst-blinded, randomised, controlled superiority trial | The Lancet | DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)32993-3

Abstract 

Background Directly observed treatment (DOT) has been the standard of care for tuberculosis since the early 1990s, but it is inconvenient for patients and service providers. Video-observed therapy (VOT) has been conditionally recommended by WHO as an alternative to DOT. We tested whether levels of treatment observation were improved with VOT.

Methods We did a multicentre, analyst-blinded, randomised controlled superiority trial in 22 clinics in England (UK). Eligible participants were patients aged at least 16 years with active pulmonary or non-pulmonary tuberculosis who were eligible for DOT according to local guidance. Exclusion criteria included patients who did not have access to charging a smartphone. We randomly assigned participants to either VOT (daily remote observation using a smartphone app) or DOT (observations done three to five times per week in the home, community, or clinic settings). Randomisation was done by the SealedEnvelope service using minimisation. DOT involved treatment observation by a health-care or lay worker, with any remaining daily doses self-administered. VOT was provided by a centralised service in London. Patients were trained to record and send videos of every dose ingested 7 days per week using a smartphone app. Trained treatment observers viewed these videos through a password-protected website. Patients were also encouraged to report adverse drug events on the videos. Smartphones and data plans were provided free of charge by study investigators. DOT or VOT observation records were completed by observers until treatment or study end. The primary outcome was completion of 80% or more scheduled treatment observations over the first 2 months following enrolment. Intention-to-treat (ITT) and restricted (including only patients completing at least 1 week of observation on allocated arm) analyses were done. Superiority was determined by a 15% difference in the proportion of patients with the primary outcome (60% vs 75%). This trial is registered with the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Number registry, number ISRCTN26184967.

Findings Between Sept 1, 2014, and Oct 1, 2016, we randomly assigned 226 patients; 112 to VOT and 114 to DOT. Overall, 131 (58%) patients had a history of homelessness, imprisonment, drug use, alcohol problems or mental health problems. In the ITT analysis, 78 (70%) of 112 patients on VOT achieved more than or equal to 80% scheduled observations successfully completed during the first 2 months compared with 35 (31%) of 114 on DOT. In the restricted analysis, 78 (77%) of 101 patients on VOT achieved the primary outcome compared with 35 (63%) of 56 on DOT. Stomach pain, nausea, and vomiting were the most common adverse events reported (in 16 [14%] of 112 on VOT and nine [8%] of 114 on DOT). Interpretation VOT was a more effective approach to observation of tuberculosis treatment than DOT.

The full article is available from The Lancet

Furhter details of the NIHR Signal can be found here

Achieving a digital NHS: Lessons for national policy from the acute sector

Nuffield Trust | June 2019 | Achieving a digital NHS: Lessons for national policy from the acute sector

With the creation of NHSX, which will unite digital leaders from NHS England, NHS Improvement, and the Department of Health and Social Care to lead on setting standards for technology use, championing and developing digital training and ensuring NHS systems can talk to each other across the health and care system, the Nuffield Trust wanted to know:

  • How national policy impacted on a trust’s approach to digitisation
  • How national policy was helping and hindering digital progress
  • What national policy could do differently to better support digitisation on the ground

 

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Image source: nuffieldtrust.org.uk

To this end the Nuffield Trust spoke to 72 senior digital leaders in national organisations and NHS trusts as well as frontline health care professionals. Now the Nuffield Trust have published Achieving a digital NHS, which is based on discussion with 72 senior digital leaders in national organisations and NHS trusts as well as frontline health care professional national policy for digitisation, is working from the perspective of acute trusts. This  report seeks to understand how national policy for digitisation is working from the perspective of acute trusts (Source: Nuffield Trust).

Achieving a digital NHS: Lessons for a national policy from the acute sector 

Achieving a digital NHS

Creating a digital NHS is a national policy priority. The NHS Long Term Plan emphasised  commitment to the digital agenda and promised fully digitised secondary care services by 2024. This report looks at digitisation from the perspective of acute trusts, and examines what lessons can be learnt for national policy | Nuffield Trust

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As a new body, NHSX, has been established to lead national policy for technology, digital and data, and with the Secretary of State firmly behind plans to create a fully digital NHS, this report seeks to understand how national policy for digitisation is working from the perspective of acute trusts.

The authors spoke to 72 senior digital leaders in national organisations and NHS trusts as well as frontline health care professionals in an attempt to understand how national policy for digitisation is working from the perspective of acute trusts. The researchers wanted to know:

  • How national policy impacted on a trust’s approach to digitisation
  • How national policy was helping and hindering digital progress
  • What national policy could do differently to better support digitisation on the ground

This report sets out a number of areas that would benefit from national attention. A clear theme across all of the areas is the need for better communication and engagement between national policy makers and NHS providers.

Full report: Castle-Clarke S and Hutchings R  (2019) | Achieving a digital NHS: Lessons for national policy from the acute sector | Nuffield Trust