This edition of Digital Health News’ Industry Roundup includes projects focused on artificial intelligence (AI), an app to fight health inequalities, and a project to use primary care data to eradicate hepatitis C.
Royal Marsden uses AI to study kidney cancer
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and the Francis Crick Institute are working with AI start-up Owkin to gain a better understanding of how kidney cancer develops in order to improve treatment of the disease.
By studying the evolutionary characteristics of a tumor and understanding how it evolved through a series of genetic changes over time, scientists hope to help physicians predict a patient’s outcome, which means they should stop treatment can be tailored to individuals to improve health outcomes.
dr Samra Turajlic, group leader at the Francis Crick Institute and consultant medical oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said: “We know that the outcome of each individual patient with kidney cancer is determined by the different evolution of their tumor. We want to be able to predict the next step in a tumor’s evolutionary trajectory and better tailor treatments that can effectively fight a patient’s cancer.
“New technologies and tools are critical to help us achieve this at the scale and speed required in clinical practice, and at a price that makes these measurements actionable in most healthcare systems.”
The AI technology will analyze over 1,000 tissue samples from 100 different tumors. It hopes that it will be able to make connections between the histological features of a tumor and patient outcomes. This will also support the transition to precision medicine.
The project will use fast and cheap AI in digital pathology to support the daily management of patients in a cost-effective way.
Thomas Clozel, Co-Founder and CEO of Owkin, said: “By using AI to advance our fundamental understanding of cancerous tumors, we aim to enable physicians to move towards a precision medicine approach to treatment. We are delighted to be working with the Crick Institute and the Royal Marsden Hospital to make a lasting difference in the lives of patients.”
First Scottish dentist to test AI technology
Clyde Munro Dental Group is the first dental service in Scotland to trial artificial intelligence that can improve the accuracy of prevention and diagnosis of early tooth decay.
Five dentists within the group have started trials of AssistDent technology developed by AI dental specialists Manchester Imaging.
The technology works by detecting early enamel changes in patients. It uses machine learning algorithms to analyze dental X-rays and highlight areas of potential concern – specifically just enamel-proximal. If caught early enough and treated with non-invasive methods, fillings could be avoided.
Fiona Wood, Clyde Munro’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Scotland has a major problem with tooth decay and if left untreated tooth decay can result in tooth loss.
“We always strive for prevention – and this technology has the potential to help our dentists identify the early signs of tooth decay before it develops and direct the necessary preventative care to the right teeth. The AI is a useful tool to show and demonstrate to patients areas of dental need or concern to enable the patient to reverse enamel changes with the support of Clyde Munro dentists.”
Primary care data used to eliminate hepatitis C
A pilot study has been launched which will use primary care records to speed up the early diagnosis and treatment of people unknowingly living with hepatitis C in England.
The program is run by NHS England in partnership with MSD. In addition to EMIS Pathway, the software Patient Search Identification (PSI) is used, which helps to find patients with or at risk of certain diseases.
Starting in the fall, the pilot project will search around 300,000 primary care records. It is looking for patients who have a positive test for encoded hepatitis C virus but no treatment records. It will also look for patients with risk factors such as injecting drug use, blood transfusions, or organ transplants prior to 1992.
When the program identifies at-risk patients, one of seven Operational Delivery Networks (ODN) invites them for review, screening and, if needed, treatment.
dr Ian Wood, GP and Clinical Director of EMIS said: “At a time when primary care is being severely overwhelmed by both a workload and a staffing crisis, it was critical that no new technology aimed at reversing this and to advance, exacerbates the capacity problem.
“The pilot project aims to close this gap. It recognizes the value and power of primary care data combined with EMIS-X Analytics in identifying patient cohorts in a region that could benefit from an intervention.
“This is a challenge that can be met well in several healthcare facilities. Instead of maintaining these lists in the GP office, all necessary data permissions and backups are in place to share with the most relevant healthcare team who can best address those patients’ “needs”.
The pilot program requires GP practices to share only relevant primary care data with specialized secondary care teams within the local ODN.
Sandwell fights health inequalities with a digital app
Sandwell Council has secured funding for The Healthy Aging Challenge and will now work with Health Fabric to tackle health inequalities.
The council’s Healthy Sandwell initiative aims to improve the health and well-being of the local community. It will work with Health Fabric and local stakeholders over the next two years.
Health Fabric’s Unity platform is designed to create multilingual health information that can be delivered through an app. It is supported by a unique approach of engaging directly with BAME communities to drive uptake and adoption.
Councilor Suzanne Hartwell, Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Welfare and Adult Health, said: “This is a great digital intervention that can make a real difference to the health and well-being of our local residents. The right advice and support in managing long-term health problems can significantly improve people’s quality of life.
“This digital intervention will provide that and make a tangible difference for our communities that may currently face barriers to easily accessing support.”
A range of content and services is being developed for people with long-term conditions to help them age well. This includes content for type 2 diabetics and people with mental illnesses.
The platform helps health and care professionals segment their population and create effective health and wellness campaigns. It supports the production of culturally sensitive information in multiple languages, helping to make advice and services more equitable.
In addition, the app allows users to record data such as mood or weight and access self-care plans to help them self-manage their conditions.
The funding run was conducted by UK Research and Innovation and Innovate UK to find new ways to meet the challenges of an aging population.
Infohealth Acquires Medically Approved Diabetes App
A pharmacy-led developer of hyper-personalized digital health solutions, Infohealth Ltd, has acquired Quin Technology’s digital therapeutic application for self-management of type 1 diabetes.
The T1D app works with wearable devices for continuous glucose monitoring. It uses data extracted from these devices and combines it with other input parameters such as food intake, exercise and insulin dosing.
It then uses artificial intelligence to create charts showing the effects of lifestyle choices and insulin dosage on blood sugar levels.
In addition, AI technology can reveal the potential impact of future decisions on blood sugar levels based on individual user data.
Rajive Patel, Director of Infohealth, said, “As global healthcare systems are burdened by workforce challenges, underfunding and inherent inefficiencies, there is an urgent need for healthcare technology companies to lead the way in developing personalized healthcare solutions that address clinical resource shortages. At the same time, patients are fundamentally encouraged to become more active in their own health management.
“Our approach is to transform the digital pharmacy from a primary standard supplier of prescription drugs to a provider of hyper-personalized care, with a focus on predicting which patients will benefit from proactive interventions.”