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NHS taps technology firms for 'connected' patient projects

One of the pilots will see Google's Verily unit work with MSD on a telehealth initiative
digital technology

IBM, Philips, Hewlett Packard and Google's Verily unit are set to work with the NHS on a range of projects looking at how technology can help patients stay well and out of hospital.

The drive - announced by NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Friday - aims to address "some of the most complex issues facing patients and the health service".

The projects will test the use of wearable devices, remote monitoring and new ways of analysing data in order to help patients and their doctors monitor their health from home. If successful, the pilot projects - known as 'test beds' - will be rolled out to other areas of the NHS.

"Over the next decade major health gains won't just come from a few 'miracle cures'," said Stevens in Davos. Progress will come from "combining diverse breakthroughs in fields such as biosensors, medtech and drug discovery, mobile communications and artificial intelligence (AI) computing".

The test beds tie in with a drive in healthcare towards the "self-care era", with connected devices and 'big data' crunching used to take pressure off increasingly stretched healthcare services.

Examples of the projects in the pipeline include a Verily and MSD-backed initiative in Rochdale that will use predictive analyses to identify patients at risk of serious condition such as heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD), using telehealth technologies.

Philips and other companies will work with local healthcare services on measures that can keep frail elderly people in Lancashire and Cumbria living independently by identifying those who need additional support, while a North London project will make use of online tools and social media to promote healthy ageing.

In Sheffield, IBM is one of a number of partner companies working setting up an 'intelligence centre' tasked with helping patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes, mental health problems, respiratory disease and high blood pressure living independently.

Another scheme in Birmingham will allow people at risk of serious mental illness to make use of technology and apps to manage their condition, linked to a hub which can despatch the right specialist staff at the right time to help if a crisis looks likely.

Finally - in two Internet of Things-focused projects - HP is contributing to a remote monitoring and care system for diabetics in the west of England, while another initiaitve in Surrey will try to improve the care of dementia patients at home through the use of sensors, wearables, monitors and other devices.

In a statement, NMHS England said: "It is envisaged that successful test bed partners will deliver wider financial benefits to the NHS and the UK economy as they are rolled out in other areas at home and abroad."

Article by
Phil Taylor

25th January 2016

From: Healthcare



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