NHS Innovation Accelerator launches search for world’s top innovators

The West of England AHSN is working in partnership with NHS England and the AHSN Network to lead a new search for the world’s best health innovators to help improve patients’ lives.  The NHS Innovation Accelerator 2016 launches today (17 June 2016 ) after 3 million people benefit from the first wave in just nine months.

The NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) aims to improve lives through fast tracking cutting-edge, low cost innovations to the forefront of the NHS.  In its first year, the NIA has supported 17 fellows to introduce their high impact, tried and tested innovations – ranging from apps, IT platforms, new models of care – into the NHS.   This has resulted in a rapid roll out of innovations to 68 NHS organisations, benefitting over three million patients and delivering over £8m funding.

NIA 2016 aims to find eight of the world’s top innovators to be supported to spread their innovations further and faster across the NHS.  We are seeking innovators with new products, services, solutions or new ways of delivering care that address: disease prevention, early detection and long-term conditions.

Run by NHS England and UCLPartners in collaboration with the country’s Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs), the NHS Innovation Accelerator has enabled clinicians to deliver care more efficiently and has empowered patients to combat, manage and understand their own illnesses better.

Innovators who are interested can find out more and apply online via NHS Innovation’s website.  Applicants have until 1 August 2016 to submit their application and there will be opportunities to you to receive support in the application process during this time.

Innovations currently supported by the NIA include:

A 24-hour online self-management system

MyCOPD – an online system, available as an app, which allows patients with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) to self-manage their condition on any device, from any place, at any time.  MyCOPD offers patients expert advice and education on how to use their medication properly and how to perform special exercises designed to improve lung function.

A whole hospital digital platform

Nervecentre – a digital platform that enables doctors and nurses to carry out patient observations, handovers and clinical assessments from their smartphones is now used in over 30 trusts in the UK.  Independent research identified a 70% reduction in clinical incidents such as patients deteriorating because of a delay in finding the right doctor and a 100% reduction in avoidable deaths out-of-hours.

An electronic recruitment and research pairing service

Join Dementia Research – an online paring service covering the whole of the UK, which matches people interested in participating in dementia research with suitable studies. Join Dementia Research now has 17,433 people registered with more than 5000 people enrolled in clinical trials – a 900% increase since Piers Kotting joined the programme.

Professor Sir David Fish, Managing Director of UCLPartners, said: “The success achieved in just the first months of the NHS Innovation Accelerator should inspire healthcare providers, commissioners and innovators to work together to solve current challenges for patient and population benefit.”

NHS Innovation Accelerator Programme Co-founder Dr Mahiben Maruthappu said: “The NHS Innovation Accelerator has seen record success, benefitting millions of patients in a matter of months.  We in the NHS are opening the door to innovators across the world, to disrupt British healthcare.”

Dr Liz Mear, Chair of the AHSN Network and Chief Executive of The Innovation Agency said: “Health and industry innovators have an absolutely central role to play in helping the NHS respond to its challenges – coming up with great products, services, technologies and care models that can transform services for the benefit of patients and enable efficiencies.  It’s well known to be difficult for entrepreneurs to access the support they need to roll out their great ideas, the support of AHSNs and the NHS Innovation Accelerator has shown that we can speed up innovation in the NHS.”

Find out more and apply online via NHS England’s website.

Grants of up to £100,000 available in feasibility funding for innovations to help patient flow and children’s care

Companies are invited to bid for funding to develop solutions to improve patient flow in acute care and independence for children with long-term conditions in the latest competition from SBRI Healthcare.

Funded by NHS England, the aim of SBRI Healthcare is to develop innovative products and services that address unmet health needs. Successful companies can receive up to £100,000 phase 1 feasibility funding each to develop products that improve patient flow in acute care, and self-care options for children with long-term conditions.

The initiative is run by the 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs). The competition for managing patient flow in acute care is being jointly led by the West of England AHSN, Imperial College Health Partners and Health Innovation Network (South London).

The West of England AHSN has successfully supported a number of companies to secure funding through the SBRI Healthcare programme:

Folium Optics
Bristol-based Folium Optics has been awarded £1 million funding in the latest SBRI Healthcare competition to develop ‘My Health Tags’, an innovative new product designed to improve medicines adherence. Read more. 

Plessey Semiconductors
A hand-held ECG monitor that has been developed by Plessey through Phase 1 and Phase 2 Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) funding. Working in collaboration with the West of England AHSN and healthcare providers to spread its adoption. Watch our video.

Biovici
Working with the West of England AHSN through two successful SBRI Phase 1 funding calls in improving medicines adherence in Mental Health and Improving Urgent and Emergency Care Services. Watch our video.

To date we have helped facilitate a total of £6.5 million of funding for projects through SBRI-led challenges. Find out more.

Anna Burhouse, Director of Quality for the West of England AHSN, commenting on the competition for managing patient flow in acute care, said:

“This is a very exciting opportunity to call on the expertise and innovation of business to help the NHS improve productivity and patient flow. We want to see ideas that scope better use of technologies, information and products to enable fresh ways of working, which lead to measurable improvements in outcomes for patients, productive ways of working for staff, and greater efficiencies for NHS organisations”

The competition for self-care and independence for children with long-term conditions is led by Yorkshire and Humber AHSN and TITCH (Technology Innovation Transforming Child Health).

Philippa Hedley-Takhar, Head of Investment and Partnerships for Yorkshire and Humber AHSN, commenting on the competition for self-care and independence for children with long-term conditions, said:

“We know that disability in children can have a permanent effect on their life skills in adulthood. With six percent of children in the UK living with disability, there is a high need for innovations that address their health and care needs, so they can live life to the full. This will enhance their wellbeing and confidence but, over the longer term, will enable them to take advantage of greater opportunities as they move towards and through adulthood.”

Applications are invited from companies across England.  Briefing events with clinicians for interested companies will take place in London on 21 June and in Leeds on 22 June .

The deadline for applications is 28 July 2016 and full details are available on the SBRI Healthcare website.

For enquiries and support, please contact Urszula Kapoulas in our Enterprise team at urszula.kapoulas@weahsn.net.

People in the West wanted to try out two new healthcare innovations

People in the West of England living with long-term health conditions are invited to take part in an exciting healthcare innovation project to test and shape two potential new products.

Both have been designed by entrepreneurs in Bristol: one product is designed to help people with dementia, while the other is an app to aid speech therapy.

The call comes from the Design Together, Live Better project, which connects citizens with companies and entrepreneurs to co-create the next generation of healthcare solutions based on real needs.

Intelligent Sounds

Design Together, Live Better is recruiting people whose speech has been affected as a result of their health condition (such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or a head injury) to test ‘Intelligent Sounds’. This is an app for smart phones and tablets, which helps people practise, improve and perfect speech sounds.

The Intelligent Sounds app has been developed by Jenny Dance, a linguist and marketing analyst from Bishopston and Director of Phona Ltd.

Jenny says, “I initially developed an app in partnership with Oxford University Press to help non-native speakers of English improve their pronunciation. Due to a neurological problem, I suffered episodes of slurred, unintelligible speech and began to see the potential for the app to be used as a speech therapy tool as well.

“Through the Design Together, Live Better project, I’m really keen to work with people in the West of England experiencing speech difficulties to get their feedback on Intelligent Sounds, and how I can better tailor the app to cater for different health conditions.”

People interested in getting involved and testing out Intelligent Sounds can find out more at: designtogetherlivebetter.org/intelligent-sounds/.

Music Memory Box

People living with dementia and those close to them (family, friends, carers) are also invited by Design Together, Live Better to try out and share their feedback on the ‘Music Memory Box’, a personalised, multi-sensory device that enables its owner to recall memories.

Chloe Meineck from Bedminster runs Studio Meineck, which specialises in ‘designing with rather than for people’.

Chloe says: “I co-designed the first Music Memory Box with a loved one with dementia. Now I am in the process of putting it into production and would love to hear what people from across the Westcountry think about it, and their feedback about the design and use of it.

“The Music Memory Box is designed to look like a shoebox. It can be filled with precious trinkets. Making use of RFID (radio-frequency identification) technology, Music Memory Box allows these objects to trigger music, encouraging the owner to recall memories. This creates a personal, multi-sensory reminiscence activity for a person living with dementia, helping them to recollect and reconnect with their loved ones.”

People interested in getting involved and testing out the Music Memory Box can find out more at: designtogetherlivebetter.org/the-music-memory-box/.

A game changer

Design Together, Live Better has been developed by the NHS-funded West of England Academic Health Science (AHSN) to encourage meaningful dialogue between patients and companies and gather user input.

Lars Sundstrom, Enterprise Director at the West of England AHSN, says: “We need to make better use of people’s insights into their own conditions and lives; they are the experts in what would make life easier and, more specifically, what’s missing and what could be created to help.

“Our new innovation platform will do exactly that by putting people in touch with each other, to co-design and co-create the next generation of innovative healthcare products so that they precisely match currently unmet needs. I am really excited about this – it could be a real game changer!”

The project is keen to work with more innovators looking to co-design and test their innovations with users. If you are an entrepreneur with a new concept or product being developed, find out more about connecting with the Design Together, Live Better community at designtogetherlivebetter.org/innovators

New online platform enables citizens to shape healthcare solutions

An online citizen innovation platform has been launched to bring together members of the public living with different health conditions to share ideas and help develop the next generation of healthcare products.

Design Together, Live Better connects citizens (patients, carers, family members, friends or anyone interested in health) with companies and entrepreneurs to co-create new healthcare solutions based on real needs.

“We need to make better use of people’s insights into their own conditions and lives; they are the experts in what would make life easier and, more specifically, what’s missing and what could be created to help.” Lars Sundstrom, Enterprise Director

Two healthcare projects are already live on the platform and seeking citizen input: a speech therapy app called ‘Intelligent Sounds’, which could be used by people who have suffered strokes or head injuries or have Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis; and the ‘Music Memory Box’ which helps people with dementia to recall memories.

The Design Together, Live Better platform has been developed by the West of England AHSN and was launched at the ‘Wisdom of the Crowd’ event in Swindon in April.

The event explored and celebrated the increasing role members of the public play in the co-design and co-production of new products, as it is being recognised that people living with challenging health conditions are best placed to see what features are needed in new products and technologies.

Hilary Newiss, chair of the health and social care charity coalition National Voices, was the event’s key note speaker. Hilary has been central to developing recommendations as part of the NHS Accelerated Access Review on putting patients at the centre of health care.

Three patients-turned-innovators also shared their inspiring stories of designing new products in response to their own health conditions.

Michael Seres invented the Ostom-iAlert after receiving a bowel transplant and discovered a need to improve how he monitored and shared data on his condition with health professionals.
Kevin Mashford was born with congenital heart disease and has spent all his life in and out of hospital. Kevin developed Mi Heart, both a patient app and clinician platform enabling the efficient communication of symptoms, appointments, vital statistics and medication.
Iain Stevenson has type 2 diabetes and has used his IT background both to manage his condition and develop his technology, Soupdragon, the Trustwall API which enables individuals to securely manage their digital identity and personal data, and choose how to share this with health professionals.

However not everyone living with a health condition is in a position to develop their own solution, which is why the West of England Academic Health Science Network has developed the Design Together, Live Better platform to facilitate meaningful dialogue between patients and companies and gather user input.

Delegates at the event were given the opportunity to help share their ideas to shape and develop this new platform, which is currently at beta-testing stage.

Lars Sundstrom, Enterprise Director at the West of England AHSN, says: “We need to make better use of people’s insights into their own conditions and lives; they are the experts in what would make life easier and, more specifically, what’s missing and what could be created to help.

“Our new innovation platform will do exactly that by putting people in touch with each other, to co-design and co-create the next generation of innovative healthcare products so that they precisely match currently unmet needs. I am really excited about this – it could be a real game changer!”

Join the community

Anyone interested in joining the Design Together, Live Better community can do so online at designtogetherlivebetter.org/join-our-community. You can also follow us on Twitter at @DTLB_ and on Facebook at /designtogetherlivebetter.

Call for innovators

We are keen to work with innovators looking to co-design and test their innovators with users. If you are an innovator with a new concept or product being developed, find out more about connecting with the Design Together, Live Better community at designtogetherlivebetter.org/innovators.

Contact

For more information, please email us at enterprise@weahsn.net.

Westcountry innovators learn to take ideas forward in healthcare

Healthcare innovators in the West of England came together in Bath this month to learn how to take their cutting edge technology and business ideas to the next level.

The four-day Healthcare Innovation Programme, hosted by SETsquared and the West of England AHSN, provided 16 innovators from 13 healthcare ventures with an intensive course in taking innovations to market. The course culminated in a certificate presentation attended by Bath MP Ben Howlett.

“The innovations we’ve seen on this course have the potential to revolutionise aspects of healthcare”

Dr Elizabeth Dymond, Deputy Director of Enterprise at the West of England AHSN, said: “The Healthcare Innovation Programme is invaluable for those looking to shape the next generation of healthcare. The innovations we’ve seen on this course have the potential to revolutionise aspects of healthcare and improve benefits to service users as well as save money for the NHS.”

Simon Bond, Innovation Director at SETsquared, said: “We’re delighted to be able to deliver this world class training programme again in Bath with the West of England AHSN, and the calibre of innovators that we’ve seen this month has been as high as ever. The ideas that innovators brought to this course range from apps that allow patients to track their symptoms, to a way for music, objects and photos to help people with dementia and their families, and we were very impressed with each of the participants’ passion for bringing substantive benefits to the healthcare sector.”

Delegates took part in sessions that covered customer analysis, funding strategies, building a business case and market analysis. The programme also provided a chance for the innovators to pitch to an experienced panel as well as try out ideas and network.

Certificates and t-shirts were presented to all participants and Bath MP Ben Howlett attended to celebrate the achievements of each innovator on the programme.

Ben Howlett said: “It was an honour to be invited to the last day of the Healthcare Innovation Programme and hear the original ideas of the participants. I’m so pleased that SETsquared and the West of England AHSN continue to bring this course to Bath as it’s a fantastic resource for those working on innovations that will hopefully go on to benefit many aspects of healthcare.”

SETsquared joined forces with four Academic Health Science Networks in the South of England in 2014 to set up the revolutionary new programme that could see more effective and better value healthcare technologies benefitting patients quicker than ever.

Find out more about the Healthcare Innovation Programme here.

New report suggests supported self-care may improve patient outcomes

Patients may benefit from using a package of technology, education and support from clinicians (called ‘supported self-care’) to empower them to manage their health needs more effectively at home, a new report suggests.

The report highlights the outcomes of an eight month Champion Project where supported self-care was implemented with a small cohort of patients in one GP surgery in Bristol. The project was run by the social enterprise Bristol Community Health, in partnership with Philips Healthcare, The Lennard Surgery and funded by the West of England AHSN.

93 patients were enrolled at three different levels of service, depending on their disease acuity and personal preferences. Different technologies were offered to patients, to enable them to learn more about their condition and/or submit vital readings in their own home. All three levels of service were connected to a clinical hub, enabling staff to monitor readings and provide further support as required.

At the end of the year, a range of outcomes were reported:

  • GP practice contacts (visits, phone calls) reduced by a third for all acuity levels.
  • Patient activation levels increased by 38% to 56%.
  • 98% of patients would recommend the service to family and friends

Due to the small sample size, no statistical claims are made of this data, but the results are consistent with statistically significant results obtained elsewhere.

A range of positive benefits was also reported through interviews with patients.

“It’s made me more aware of my own condition; I’ve learnt to read the signs. I’m able to judge when I need to contact someone,” said one patient.

“I’ve found it reassuring – this scheme gives you confidence,” said heart failure patient Gordon Hennessy. “If there’s anything wrong my nurse will pick it up or my doctor will pick it up.”

The partnership is now exploring whether an extended model for supported self-care, involving patients with differing health conditions, might be feasible across the whole city. To aid this, two new videos have also been released to explain the concept of Supported Self-Care to GPs and local commissioners.

Watch the video for commissioners here:

Watch the video for GPs here:

Liz Dymond, Deputy Director of Enterprise said: “The West of England Academic Health Science Network was delighted to co- fund the Champion Project. We are always keen to support innovative projects, especially those encouraging people to be more informed and involved in in managing their long term health conditions.”

Lennard Surgery Practice GP Dr Gareth Ronson said: “I know from directly talking to patients how much they appreciated the monitoring and how much confidence it gave them to manage their condition at home. Just this week, I visited a gentleman who was sad to see the project finish but had continued to record his data despite the end of the project, and he directly commented on his increased confidence. I’m sure there will be more of this type of Supported Self-Care in the future and it will help motivate and support patients to improve their medical conditions.”

Julia Clarke, Chief Executive of Bristol Community Health said: “We’re really excited by the outcomes of our supported self-care partnership project. There’s a growing and important role for technology and education in empowering patients to take control of their own health, and these initial outcomes support this. Our vision for the future is one where patients are able to self-care as much as possible, in the comfort of their own home, and with support from community healthcare staff, and contacts with GPs and hospitals is minimised. This work will help us achieve that.”

Malcolm Hart, Senior Director of Hospital to Home at Philips said: “This collaborative project has demonstrated valuable new insights on how people living with long term conditions can be supported to self-care more effectively. This is a win-win for patients and the health system– better quality of life, and improved health outcomes, at lower cost.”

To access a full copy of the report Supported Self-care through technology: a population approach to long term condition proactive management in the community, please email gemma.hargreaves@briscomhealth.nhs.uk.

Standing trial for privatising the NHS

In his latest blog post, Lars Sundstrom, Director of Enterprise at the West of England AHSN goes on trial…

As a director of enterprise I am often accused of helping to privatise the NHS through the back door.

In fact my employment in the West of England AHSN could have been very short-lived indeed. At my first board meeting I was challenged by one board member who expressed the view that if I succeeded in my plans companies would actually make a profit out of working with the NHS! I answered, “Yes of course; I thought that’s what you hired me for.”

So I was heading off to a meeting in Bath this week and while on the train I sort of drifted off into a state of mixed slumber and reflection. I guess this particular daydream was triggered by yet another episode of someone accusing me of helping to privatise the NHS.

I imagined myself in a courtroom with a jury on my left and before me sits a judge, you know the really stern kind with a white curly wig and long robe.

The judge says to me, shaking his gavel, “You stand accused sir, of aiding and abetting the private sector in making a profit by stealing the public’s money; money earned by decent law-abiding individuals and intended for the care of individuals in need. You are accused sir, of deceitfully enriching greedy businesses and bleeding the NHS dry of its scarce resources in the aid of corporate profits. You have deliberately flaunted the law, which clearly states that the NHS is free at the point of use and should be free from the scourge of enterprise and evil profit. How do you plead sir, guilty or not guilty?”

Hmmm, well that’s a point of view I suppose.

I stand up to address the judge and jury. “Not guilty, your honour,” I reply, and propose this first exhibit in my defence.

“I accept that companies need to make a profit in order to be able to innovate, but actually this profit is simply a dividend on the risk they take with their own money (and not the tax payer’s money incidentally) to develop new products that actually make people better. If the products don’t make people better I put to you that no one would buy them.

“And your honour, should any company get too greedy and want to make excessive profits from the NHS, this would simply have the effect of stimulating a rival company to make better, cheaper products. Unless of course there is a monopoly situation and the market is unable to function properly.

“In fact your honour, I would go further and state that the NHS could be accused in places of tacitly accepting monopolies by dealing with too few large companies, therefore depriving the tax payer of a market that drives down prices, stimulates innovation and provides value to the taxpayer.

“I now refer to exhibit two, your honour. I accept that the NHS is about 80% funded by money from the said tax payer. However, first of all the majority of tax payers now work in the private sector, so companies are indirectly paying for the NHS via income tax and national insurance on their employees’ salaries and, in addition your honour, I put to you that a further 8% of the NHS’s funding comes directly from tax on corporate profits.

“Therefore your honour in summing up my defence, I plead not guilty of privatising the NHS, but I do plead guilty to the accusation of helping companies make a profit from the NHS.

“I also put to you that a virtuous circle exists where increasing the number of people paying tax via enterprises helps fund the NHS, so that the NHS can return more people to the labour markets and thus pay more taxes.

“Therefore I put to you that best way to keep the NHS free is to help enterprises make a profit and grow, including making money out of working with the NHS.

“So I suggest to you we keep the NHS free by backing enterprise your honour!”

At this point my train pulled in to the station and I woke out of my daydream not knowing whether the jury might find me guilty or not.

I’ll leave that up to you to decide!

Recent highlights of our work together

The West of England AHSN continues to be recognised for successfully bringing together healthcare, industry and academic partners across the region – but what are we are actually achieving together? Here are a few highlights from the last quarter, October to December 2015…

Patient safety

  • 10,000 people have benefitted from the emergency department safety checklist so far this last year, which has been piloted by University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust. We are now supporting four other EDs to implement the checklist: Weston Area Health NHS Trust, North Bristol NHS Trust, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
  • The two Bristol Trusts have successfully converted from the Bristol Early Warning Score to the National Early Warning Score (NEWS).
  • A great example of collaborative working: 80 delegates from across the South of England attended our Mental Health Collaborative learning event in December.
  • The Emergency Laparotomy Collaborative is live including all six acute trusts. This work will benefit 1,000 patients a year in the West of England.
  • To date, 435 staff from community organisations have already received Human Factors training. We are now providing funding to Bath & North East Somerset CCG, Bristol Community Health, Gloucestershire Care Services and North Somerset Community Partnership to enable a further 2,500 staff in community settings to receive training.

Informatics

  • Connecting Care has been used to review patient records on 110,000 occasions. Gloucestershire CCG has a final business case which will deliver interoperability in 2016/17. Wiltshire and BaNES are enhancing local systems to connect data for patient benefit across care settings.
  • Patients in the West of England are set to benefit from a new NHS Genomic Medicine Centre based in Bristol, which gained approval in December.

Quality improvement

  • 80 GP practices in Gloucestershire are working with us on our Atrial Fibrillation programme. The first 11 practices found 533 high risk patients who may need clinical review.
  • We have trained 46 GPs, 15 nurse practitioners and health care assistants, and 12 pharmacists as part of Don’t Wait to Anticoagulate, with a further pharmacist training session planned.

OpenPrescribing

  • The OpenPrescribing platform been used on 25,000 occasions, with 94,000 page views, and shares on Twitter have reached a potential audience of 46 million people. The concept has now spread to Wales and Scotland.

Join Dementia Research

  • At Christmas the West of England had achieved number one slot for the highest number of local registrations to the Join Dementia Research service in the country.

Diabetes Digital Coach

  • The Diabetes Digital Coach programme, developed by a consortium led by the West of England AHSN, has been selected as an ‘internet of things’ Test Bed to help people with diabetes in the region self-manage their condition.

Supporting innovation

  • We have supported Folium Optics who have been awarded £1 million funding from SBRI Healthcare competition to further developed their ‘smart tag’ which reminds people to take their medication.

Everything we do and achieve is in collaboration with an extensive range of individuals and organisations across the West of England and beyond. Thank you to all our members, partners, public contributors and staff!

People with diabetes welcome opportunity to be part of pioneering NHS technology Test Bed

People with diabetes in the Westcountry have welcomed the news that they will have an opportunity to shape future innovative developments aimed at self-managing their condition.

The West of England has been selected as an innovation Test Bed to help people with diabetes in the region self-manage their condition in the future. It is one of seven test beds announced by the NHS around the country as part of a major new drive to modernise how the NHS delivers care.

The Diabetes Digital Coach Test Bed, funded by the Department of Health and led by the West of England Academic Health Science Network, will involve a collaboration between the regional health community, national charities and technology businesses.

Recruiting up to 12,000 people with diabetes

Over the next two years, the project will be looking for up to 12,000 people with diabetes across the West to come forward and participate in the Test Bed. ‘Diabetes Digital Coach’ will involve using and evaluating a range of technologies that can support self-management of the condition, from wearable sensors to online apps. It aims to deliver a range of benefits for those with diabetes, including providing a real time view of their own data which will enable them to take prompt actions to prevent their condition deteriorating and the opportunity to share their information with healthcare professionals to help shape their advice and support.

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.

Like many others, she has seen significant advances to the monitoring and treatment of the condition over the past five decades. When she was diagnosed in 1961, insulin was injected with metal and glass syringes that had to be boiled to sterilize them.

She says: “You managed your diabetes almost by guesswork as home tests for blood glucose were non-existent and you relied on the rare visits to the consultant who told you what to do.

“Not a one size fits all”

“Everyone with diabetes needs a good understanding of their condition and how they personally react to different medications. Managing diabetes is not a one size fits all. We make life saving decisions 24/7 and self-management technologies have a key role to play in supporting these decisions. You are walking a tightrope trying to keep your blood glucose within a normal range to avoid complications and it is easy to fall off. Technology gives you the means to know when you are about to fall off and to take the steps to correct it.

“Today’s technology can also be used to enable true partnership between the GP, consultant or practice nurse and the person with diabetes. In the absence of a cure for diabetes, the innovation Test bed will enable more people to better manage their diabetes, hopefully reducing the awful complications that go with the condition.”

“I want to die with my feet on!”

Mary Perkins, also from Bristol, developed gestational diabetes with her second child in 2002 and went on to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 2009. She underwent bariatric surgery in 2011 and now maintains her blood sugars within normal limits.

Mary says: “I’m very excited about The Diabetes Digital Coach Test Bed. I have Type 2 diabetes and for me the major benefit of all of this will be the real time feedback. At the moment my diabetes is ‘managed’ by annual screening, which tells us the average control I have had of my blood sugars in the previous three months. It does not provide any feedback on how what I do now (such as eating those three biscuits in a staff meeting) impacts my blood sugar today, and therefore the problems I could be storing for myself further down the line. So, while my overall control can be good, daily insults could be taking their toll.

“Using these digital self-management devices to get early feedback and identify trends is exactly what us needed. I’m really keen to take part in this – I want to die with my feet on!”

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

Claire Gordon, South West Regional Manager for the charity Diabetes UK, adds: “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.”

The test-bed is one of just seven which together will receive £17m from NHS England and the Department of Health. Successful innovations will be available for other parts of the country to adopt and adapt to the particular needs of their local populations.

NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens said: “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.”

Find out more

Anyone with diabetes living in the West of England (Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Swindon and South Gloucestershire) who would like to find out more or get involved in the Diabetes Digital Coach programme in the coming months can get in touch with the team at enterprise@weahsn.net.

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.