A new policy paper outlining the Department of Health and Social Care’s technology vision, includes case studies from two of the innovations supported by the NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA): Nervecentre Software and Patients Know Best.

Launched at an AHSN Network event, hosted by the Health Innovation Network on 17th October, Health and Social Care Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, set out his vision to help build the world’s most advanced health and care system.

This vision transforms NHS technology so it allows appropriate access to real-time data, which will underpin digital services and data innovations. The vision also outlines plans to introduce minimum technical standards so systems can not only talk to each other securely – but are continuously upgradable.

Any system which does not meet these standards will be phased out and the government will look to end contracts with providers which do not understand these principles for the health and care sector.

The changes will secure a brighter future for the health and social care system and is central to unlocking the potential of cutting-edge technologies to support preventative, predictive and personalised care.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“The tech revolution is coming to the NHS. These robust standards will ensure that every part of the NHS can use the best technology to improve patient safety, reduce delays and speed up appointments.

“A modern technical architecture for the health and care service has huge potential to deliver better services and to unlock our innovations. We want this approach to empower the country’s best innovators – inside and outside the NHS – and we want to hear from staff, experts and suppliers to ensure our standards will deliver the most advanced health and care service in the world.”

The technology vision is available to read here

Case study: empowering patients with inflammatory bowel disease

Patients Know Best (PKB) is an online platform that is empowering more than 4,000 patients across Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust to play an active role in managing their inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as well as offering them greater access to clinical expertise and innovative treatments.

Supported by the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Science Network (KSS AHSN), PKB is being used by patients to record their symptoms and communicate with their clinical team remotely, accelerating timely access to advice, clinical reviews for flare-ups, and escalation to disease-modifying therapy where appropriate. It also offers reassurance to those who are stable without the need for a face-to-face review.

The benefits of this patient-centred approach have been significant. As well as reducing the number of inpatient admissions and outpatient attendances, the time to access specialist care at the onset of a flare-up has reduced from six weeks to one week. At the start of the study 60% of respondents reported that their IBD had been well controlled in the preceding two weeks, with this figure rising to 71% after four months of PKB usage. Importantly, 68% said the service had a positive impact on their IBD, and 77% said it helped them feel more confident in managing their own health.

Case study: intelligent alert system for early diagnosis of sepsis

The Nervecentre platform, at Nottingham University Hospitals, uses vital signs, early warning score (EWS) and pathology results to inform the early diagnosis of sepsis. Algorithms, based on sepsis indicators and NICE guidance, are applied to local/regional clinical rules to help identify early onset.

When a patient presents early indications of sepsis, the platform’s intelligent alert system immediately alerts the right clinicians and nurses to ensure that care is appropriately escalated, prioritised and carried out. Moreover, the system not only alerts clinical staff, it links with experts in disease and sepsis to provide clear visibility of when results have been received or are still to be reviewed. The combination of the algorithm, automated escalation and task prioritisation helps aims to eliminate the human factors that can delay the identification and treatment of sepsis. The Nervecentre has the potential to offer improved patient care and improve efficiency of sepsis care, as well as offering further research and analysis opportunities with the data being produced.