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New Test Bed trial of self-management digital technology set to improve patient care in the West

Patients in the West of England will be among the first to benefit from a major new drive to modernise how the NHS delivers care, as announced today (Friday 22 January) by NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The West of England AHSN will be leading the way in NHS innovation as part of a pioneering ‘Test Bed’ with partners including the regional healthcare community, Corsham Institute, Diabetes UK, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Ki Performance, LeLan and SocialDiabetes, R-Outcomes, and HEOR.

As part of the ‘Diabetes Digital Coach’ Test Bed, people with diabetes and frontline health and care workers across the West (with a population size of 2.4 million) will pioneer and evaluate opportunities to work with the ‘Internet of Things’ through using remote monitoring and coaching technology for better self-management.

The programme, along with six others from around the country, will be unveiled by NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens on Friday as part of the first wave of NHS Innovation Test Beds; collaborations between the NHS and innovators that aim to harness technology to address some of the most complex issues facing our population and the health service.

Successful innovations will then be available for other parts of the country to adopt and adapt to the particular needs of their local populations.

The Diabetes Digital Coach programme will bring together mobile health self-management tools (such as wearable sensors and supporting software) with the Internet of Things (IoT). The Test Bed will enable people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes to ‘do the right thing at the right time’ to self-manage their condition, and will encourage more timely and appropriate interventions from peers, healthcare professionals, carers and social networks.

This IoT Test Bed is part of an integrated £40 million, three-year Government programme in collaboration with Innovate UK that seeks to advance the UK’s global leadership in IoT and increase adoption of high quality IoT technologies and services throughout businesses and the public sector.

Co-developing the future with patients and leading technology providers

Lars Sundstrom, Director of Enterprise at the West of England AHSN, said: “I am really delighted that we have been chosen as an Internet of Things Test Bed site to pioneer the next generation of connected self-management tools for people to better manage long-term conditions. This is a great example of how the NHS and the Department for Health with Innovate UK are leading the way in co-developing the future with patients and leading technology providers for the benefit of all.”

Sandra Tweddell from Bristol has lived with Type 1 diabetes since 1961. She is coordinator of the Bristol Diabetes Support Network and has been involved in the design of the Diabetes Digital Coach programme.

Sandra says: “I am so excited by the news about Diabetes Digital Coach being announced as an NHS Test Bed. In the absence of a cure for diabetes, technology offers a way of giving immediate information about your diabetes control so you can manage it better and prevent or delay the complications that can go with the condition.

“Technology can be used to enable true partnership between the GP, consultant or practice nurse and the person with diabetes. Diabetes Digital Coach is a really exciting initiative as, if successful, it will enable more people to better manage their diabetes, hopefully reducing the awful complications that go with the condition.”

Providing patients with joined-up information

Claire Gordon, South West Regional Manager for the charity Diabetes UK, said: “This is a great project because it will provide patients with joined-up information, allowing them to take control of their diabetes and manage it more appropriately to live well with their diabetes.”

Jacqui Ferguson, Senior Vice President & General Manager for Enterprise Services UK & Ireland at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said: “Digital innovation and collaboration are at the heart of how HPE brings value and as such we look forward to working with the West of England AHSN on the application of this Test Bed to achieve effective diabetes self-management.”

Expanding our range of options

Kizzy Harris, Diabetes and Nutrition Services Manager for Bristol Community Health, said: “I’m delighted with this announcement. Whilst our service currently offers a range of courses and videos for people living with diabetes, we need to expand our options to ensure that people in the community have improved support to self-manage at any point that they need it. The Test bed will assist us with this. It  will also further support the Diabetes Transformation Programme – a five-year programme of change by Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), partner organisations and patients which aims to improve the outcomes for people with diabetes in Bristol.”

Inform and empower patients

Mary Hutton, Executive Sponsor of the Diabetes Digital Coach Test Bed and Accountable Officer at NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “This exciting technology offers the NHS an opportunity to test out innovative and new ways of working that will inform and empower patients to take control of their diabetes. NHS Gloucestershire CCG is pleased to be an active partner in this programme over the next few years.”

Consent driven applications

Richard Male at Corsham Institute, added: “The potential of digital technologies to transform the provision of healthcare, in particular, patient led care for chronic illness is significant. The Corsham Institute is delighted to be part of a talented consortium in testing and developing the Diabetes Digital Coach programme. By providing the NHS and our fellow partners with a trusted, secure and agnostic environment to house data and develop consent driven applications, we are delighted to be helping to create solutions and analytics that add significant value to patients, clinicians and researchers alike.”

Cutting through the hype

NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “Over the next decade major health gains won’t just come from a few ‘miracle cures’, but also from combining diverse breakthroughs in fields such as biosensors, medtech and drug discovery, mobile communications, and AI computing.

“Our new NHS Test Beds programme aims to cut through the hype and test the practical benefits for patients when we bring together some of these most promising technologies in receptive environments inside the world’s largest public, integrated health service.”

The Diabetes Digital Coach programme in the West of England will work with a number of SME partners, who have responded warmly to today’s Test Bed announcement:

Tommy Parker from Ki Performance said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with such a fantastic team on this innovative project and very excited to demonstrate how the use of personalised physical activity in a free-living environment can improve diabetes management. KiActiv® will enable individuals to self-manage their condition more effectively and empower sustainable behaviour change through improved access, engagement, motivation and understanding.”

Dr Matthew Goodman from Mapmyhealth said: “We are deeply committed to improving diabetes care in the UK through the use of patient-facing technologies, in particular increasing the uptake of education to improve self-management. With the launch of the NHS Test Bed initiative, together we have an opportunity to make a significant and lasting impact on the care of patients with diabetes, leading to improved outcomes and lowered costs.”

Lucy Jones, a well-known TV dietitian and Head of Dietetics at Oviva, said: “Achieving the lifestyle changes needed to improve your diabetes or obesity can be really challenging for people and difficult to sustain. Using Oviva’s technology with my own patients I find it greatly improves the communication and support that can be given as and when they need it in their journey, whilst still managing to empower self-management as they track and capture their own dietary choices. Our goal is to improve patient’s outcomes and provide significant cost savings to the NHS, and this Test Bed is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate this.”

Tom Dawson from Rescon said: “We are excited to be part of the extraordinary collaboration that the West of England AHSN has put together to deliver the Diabetes Digital Coach Test Bed.  Rescon leverages technologies developed for elite performance athletes, particle physics and cutting edge of social and healthcare research to deliver software and services to improve the physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing of individuals.  Our Lincus platform will be a key component of the Diabetes Digital Coach offering.”

Adam Lester-George, Director at LeLan Solutions, commented: “We are delighted to be collaborating in this consortium of exceptional organisations with a view to developing new systems to tackle the diabetes epidemic. We are especially excited to demonstrate the fantastic technology provided by our partner, SocialDiabetes – this multiplatform self-management system has already been shown to radically improve the day-to-day lives of individuals with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. Winner of the 2012 UNESCO WSA award and with more than 100,000 downloads worldwide, SocialDiabetes is the number one app for diabetics in Spain and Latin America, and we believe that it will significantly contribute to creating a truly patient-centred platform in this NHS Test Bed.”

The Diabetes Digital Coach partnership

There are a number of partners involved in the Diabetes Digital Coach Internet of Things Test Bed, with the West of England ASHN as lead organisation.

The partnership also includes two charities, 10 companies, seven Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), two acute providers, and three community providers.

NHS England Test Beds

A joint programme between NHS England, the Office for Life Science, the Department of Health and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, NHS Test Beds bring together local health and social care bodies including CCGs, hospital trusts, primary and community care providers with a wide range of innovators from home and abroad.

Each Test Bed will use a different combination of innovations, from both large and small organisations, to address a locally-identified clinical challenge.  The changes made will be rigorously evaluated, with the aim to provide evidence which will give more areas the confidence to adopt the innovations over the coming years.

Test beds are a key strand of the NHS Five Year Forward View, and will help realise the ambition of reforming the NHS so that it is fit to face the challenges of the 21st Century – particularly an ageing population and an increase in patients with long-term health conditions – while remaining financially sustainable.

The NHS has a track record of being open to new ideas and technology – they’re being implemented all the time. Where progress has been slower is in combining innovations, in a whole-system way, so that their impact is bigger than the sum of their parts – the ‘test beds’ programme will change that.

Find out about all seven Test Beds.

Posted on January 22, 2016

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