How South West organisations are leading the way in digital healthcare

Leigh Jenkins
Marketing Manager - Innovation | Enterprise Europe Network
12th February 2018

Technology advances are transforming the way we live our lives across the world. Nowhere is this more than in healthcare and medical technology. 

The availability of high tech diagnostic and therapeutic equipment and changes in general practitioner services are revolutionising the way healthcare services are being provided.

A 2015 report by Deloitte, Digital Health in the UK: An industry study for the Office of Life Sciences, stated that the global market for digital healthcare would double within four years. In 2018 it is expected to be worth £43 billion globally and £2.9 billion in the UK.

Increasing demands of an ageing UK population, flat rate funding and rising health care costs are forcing the NHS to look for ways to provide a more efficient service and reduce costs. To help, the Government is turning to innovation and technologies to transform the way we treat and support patients and develop new cures.

The South West is recognised as having strength in digital healthcare especially in its ability to lead the development of integrated care systems. The region’s hi-tech SME cluster, broader entrepreneurial community and ability to attract pilot and test innovations puts it in a great position to respond to challenges in the health system through increased investment into health research and development. 

Here are a few programmes in which South West organisations are leading the way:

Diabetes Digital Coach

The Diabetes Digital Coach programme uses wearable sensor technology and software to enable people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes to manage their condition. It enables more timely and appropriate interventions from carers, healthcare professional and social networks.

Launched in January 2017, the West of England Academic Health Science Network was chosen, along with six other sites, as a test bed to pioneer the next generation of connected self-management tools for people to better manage long-term conditions.

Part of a £40 million, this three year Government programme is seeking to advance the UK’s global leadership in IoT and increase adoption of high-quality IoT technologies. 

E-health Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (EPIC)

Awarded £2.7 million of European funding, the University of Plymouth is working with Cornish and national partners to find the best uses of the internet, apps, cloud technology and robotics in health and social care.

The project, involving doctors, nurses, care services, patients, universities and businesses, is looking to help find the best use of technologies to better connect healthcare services in a number of ways - care robots to comfort people with dementia and the use of drones to get emergency equipment to rural locations quickly.

Connected Care

A shared care record programme is being championed by three local authorities in the South West – Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. Along with 100 GP practices and eight health organisations this innovative programme of sharing care records is bringing significant benefit to patients and care professionals, principally in the urgent care setting.

The shared summary of information - GP records, community nurse visits and information about end of life wishes - is providing out-of-hours medical practitioners, community team and social care practitioners’ access to accurate and timely records of the patients they are treating.

Currently, 980,000 people are covered by the shared record programme and in excess of 700 care professionals are routinely accessing the data.

Further work has started to extend the breadth of information in Connecting Care, to include information from mental health services, social care and ambulance services.

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