This week I attended the London launch of the new Technology Strategy Board competition, Digital Health in a Connected Hospital. This competition is designed to stimulate innovation in the UK digital health sector by contributing up to £6m of funding to projects that exploit the new capabilities of data, sensing, networking and software to better meet healthcare needs in a hospital setting.
Business-led collaborations are invited to focus on one or more of the following areas – accident and emergency (A&E), planned specialist care, health analytics and connected care – with SMEs able to request up to 60% contribution towards project costs.
Speakers at the event discussed some of the challenges currently faced by hospitals and the opportunities for digital health that the competition could support.
Tom Ferrian, the Technology Strategy Board lead technologist who is leading the call, gave the example of the need for referrals from A&E to specialist care to be done as smoothly and quickly as possible using information and data interoperability as an important consideration for all of the areas. He referred to the TSB’s internet of things demonstrator and Hypercat as relevant methods and solutions to solving interoperability issues.
Another example from the digital health special interest group who have helped to shape the competition was interoperability between hospitals for example the ability to transfer scans.
Speakers on the day included:
- John Eaglesham of ADI, who talked through an SME’s experience of working with a TSB grant and talked through their assisted living demonstrator developed with Airedale Hospital that enabled the hospital to prove the effectiveness of video-based care
- Keith Erry of Isansys Lifecare who has developed a platform for gathering wireless vital signs in a clinical setting
- Mark Bartlett of Geneix, a startup who have been developing data based solutions for clinicians including e-prescribing software
- Dr Kyle Stewart from Torbay Hospital, who talked about how important it was for business developing solutions to involve hospitals to ensure the solutions were co-designed.
The audience included a mix of attendees from universities, hospital trusts, research organizations and businesses and some lively discussion was had around the digital health challenge for hospitals. Kyle Stewart outlined his vision of a connected hospital as having information on a patient when they arrive, since – particularly during the forthcoming summer holiday period – Torbay will see an influx of patients about whom they know nothing and the hospital teams take risks daily in treating people without knowledge of their full history.
John Eaglesham advocated the importance of both a clinical champion and senior manager in the clinical context to see the real-life impact of a TSB project. This is critical to implementation beyond the R&D project and certainly mirrors our experience of working with NHS partners.