Test Beds project to boost health service

The snow-capped mountains near Davos PA Photo/Inghams Travel
The snow-capped mountains near Davos PA Photo/Inghams Travel
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Every January, the world’s most influential politicians and business leaders gather in the snow-capped Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

This year, delegates at the World Economic Forum heard about a new plan to harness the power of emerging technologies to solve complex challenges facing the NHS.

Yorkshire has a world class network of healthcare entrepreneurs who are well-placed to play a significant role in increasing the life expectancy of potentially millions of people. The Test Beds programme will allow the health service to collaborate with technology companies to develop innovative new treatments.

They will focus on caring for those suffering from multiple long-term conditions and helping people lead longer and more independent lives.

Each of the seven Test Beds will use a different combination of innovations from large and small companies to tackle local challenges. Once proved, the new treatments can be taken up across the country and adapted to suit the needs of local populations.

Sheffield City Region, which spans an area covering nine local authorities and a population of 1.8m people, is hosting what is thought to be the largest of the schemes.

The Perfect Patient Pathway aims to help people with multiple conditions including diabetes, respiratory disease, hypertension and mental health problems.

Health and social care leaders want to use technology such as home-based monitoring devices and smartphone applications to help patients understand their care programme and allow them to manage their conditions at home.

It is hoped that these patients will be able to lead independent lives and avoid the need for hospital admission, intensive rehabilitation and a high level of social care support.

The Sheffield scheme has more than 30 partners including local NHS, social care, academic and voluntary organisations and technology companies, both small and large.

These include Inhealthcare, which is working with GE Finnamore to create the infrastructure for the project.

App developers and device makers will provide technology to monitor falls risk, track people with dementia and measure patients’ mobility, nutrition and wellbeing.

Inhealthcare will collect and store this data in a secure location.

The Harrogate company will analyse the data and send alerts to a control centre manned by GE and clinicians. Doctors and nurses can then decide how to treat the patient.

Simon Jones, commercial director at Inhealthcare, said: “The Perfect Patient Pathway has the potential to make treatments as effective as they possibly can be.

“For the patient, their treatments will be less intrusive and they will be able to lead more independent lives.

Mr Jones added: “The NHS is the world’s only integrated health care system.

“The innovators of the world could invest anywhere, but they are coming to the UK to try out their innovations so people here can get the first benefits of this cutting-edge technology.”

The two-year project is in the early stages of development and a scoping exercise is underway to determine the pilot areas and the technologies and care pathways to be tested. The response from local stakeholders has been positive.

Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive of host organisation Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “The Perfect Patient Pathway test bed is bringing together the region’s health and social care providers with a number of technology and research organisations including Inhealthcare.

“By utilising this expertise we will be able to share data and plan, in partnership with patients, the best way to deliver care to people with long-term conditions based on their needs using the latest technology to support this.”