Future of rural healthcare comes under the microscope at Highland conference

The innovative use of modern technology to promote health and prevent illness is the subject of a national conference being held in Inverness next month.

P4 Digital Healthcare Convention
P4 Digital Healthcare Convention

Anyone interested in attending or finding out more can visit the event website at http://www.digitalhealthcareevent.com/

Doctors, researchers, technical experts and business people will share their expertise at the P4 Digital Healthcare Convention, organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), on Friday, October 1, at the city’s Eden Court Theatre.

HIE believes the Highlands and Islands has a unique potential to create a new cluster of healthcare businesses specialising in developing and using technology to deliver both prevention and treatment over large distances.

As a largely mountainous region with a widely-scattered mainland population and almost 100 inhabited islands, it is also a location which stands to benefit most from healthcare innovation.

Dr Steven Dodsworth, Head of Life Sciences with HIE, explained: “P4 is a term used by health professionals to describe an approach which combines prevention, prediction, personalisation and participation.

“We’re particularly interested in the role technology can play in helping people take charge of their own healthcare in a rural region like the Highlands and Islands.

“Health professionals, technologists and business people all see telehealthcare, as it’s called, as a growth area for the coming years and we believe the Highlands and Islands is ideally placed to reap both the health benefits and economic growth.

“Life sciences is a growing sector across the world which is already worth over £130m and supports around 1,800 jobs in the Highlands and Islands alone.

“We see telehealthcare as an important niche in that sector which can develop significantly over the coming years.”

October’s convention is a follow-up to a highly successful Telehealthcare summit which the development organisation held in the summer.

That event helped define a vision for developing a new telehealthcare industry in Scotland, with HIE playing a central role in helping forge collaborative links between the worlds of healthcare, science and business.

It also highlighted new equipment to monitor road accident casualties, life saving diagnostic devices for mountain rescue teams, and software to enable more care at home for people with long-term conditions.

The upcoming convention is aimed at healthcare professionals, industry and patient groups and has been planned to be highly participative.

In addition to hearing expert speakers, those attending will be able to raise questions and share their own knowledge in small workshops throughout the day.

Speakers: “Why here, why now?”

  • Ruaraidh MacNeil (HIE): The Inverness Campus Development
  • Professor Alasdair Munro (Centre for Health Science): A Centre for P4 Healthcare?
  • Professor Dave Godden (University of Aberdeen): The Dot Rural Project
  • Andrew Fowlie (chair of the Moray Community Health and Social Care Partnership): Why change is needed
  • Dr Doug McKendrick & Professor Grant Cumming (NHS Grampian): P4 digital healthcare in practice
  • Andrew Milner (H-I Network): Open Innovation

Workshops: “When worlds collide”

  • Healthcare meets the creative industries: hosted by Glasgow School of Art. A vision of Scottish telehealthcare in 2020 suggests a major role for the creative industries in healthcare.
  • Web science meets P4hosted by Professor Grant Cumming (NHS Grampian & UHI). The World Wide Web has become a central feature in our lives and will become of increasing importance in P4 healthcare.
  • P4 and PRhosted by Webber Shandwick. Effective communication will be necessary to realise the benefits of P4 teleheathcare. This workshop will explore the issues involved in such communication.

Anyone interested in attending or finding out more can visit the event website at http://www.digitalhealthcareevent.com/

Dunbar Medical Centre launches first Patient Care Messaging in Scotland

iPLATO Healthcare, the leader in mHealth, announced today that two practices at the Dunbar Medical Centre in east Lothian recently became the first GP Surgeries in Scotland to launch iPLATO Patient Care Messaging. In response to patient preferences for mobile communication in primary care the system is expected to reduce waiting times for GP appointments and enable GP-led, personalised and timely public health promotion.

According to Edinburgh Evening News last year around 124,000 people missed a hospital or GP appointment across NHS Lothian at a cost of nearly £17 million. Ultimately funded by NHS Lothian this initiative seeks to improve access to primary care services as well as drive efficiencies and reduce costs.

In a statement from the two GP surgeries, the partners say “We are pleased to have the opportunity to pilot this service on behalf of East Lothian CHP (Community Health Partnership), to see if we can improve communication between practice and patients. It should make it easier to remind our patients when check-ups are due, and so lead to improved care for long-term conditions which need regular review. Receiving reminders is free of charge to the patient. We encourage all our patients to hand in their mobile phone number to us so that they can benefit from this service.”

“Launching in Lothian with two of the practices at the Dunbar Medical Centre is a big, long term, opportunity for us but also for patients, healthcare professionals and payers in Scotland,” says Tobias Alpsten, Managing Director at iPLATO. “Across a patient population comparable to Scotland’s, iPLATO Patient Care Messaging freed up more than 100,000 GP appointments last year through SMS cancellations alone. Based on our experiences elsewhere, iPLATO Patient Care Messaging should be able to save NHS Scotland more than 200,000 GP appointments per year if deployed nationally. The smart public health promotion enabled by iPLATO  Patient Care Messaging further adds to its appeal.”

Mobile phone microscope poised to begin trials in Africa

Lensless mobilephone microscope receives 3 major awards

Mobile phones are accumulating a Swiss Army Knife-esqe assortment of capabilities; substituting as cameras, providing internet access, and soon operating as medical labs if Aydogan Ozcan’s plans come to fruition. This month’s cover article of the journal Lab on a Chip features the latest creation by the Ozcan group, a functioning prototype of a mobile phone microscope. The lensless imaging platform behind the mobile phone microscope is nearing readiness for real world trials, after receiving prestigious awards in the past month from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, National Geographic, and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

“Mobile phones present a tremendous opportunity in Global healthcare,” remarked Ozcan, an assistant professor of electrical engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science and a researcher at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute. “We can leverage the fact that eighty percent of the world’s population lives in areas covered by mobile phone networks to bridge the gaps left by a lack of health care infrastructure in developing countries.”

That lack of health care infrastructure includes not only buildings, but also trained personnel. For telemedicine tools to effectively fill in for hospitals, the devices have to meet several criteria. They must be cheap enough for widespread use in poor areas, be simple enough for a minimally trained person to correctly operate, and be able to easily transmit information over existing cellular networks. Optical microscopes, a key diagnostic tool in hospitals, are too bulky for telemedicine applications.

In optical microscopes, one of the elements which limits the miniaturization possibilities and drives up the cost is the lens. Ozcan’s telemedicine microscope avoids both these constraints by capturing an image with a lensless system. This innovative engineering means that the microscope can be miniaturized (it only weighs ~1.5 ounces) to the point where it fits on most mobile phones, while remaining inexpensive enough for widespread use in developing countries, costing only about ten dollars each.

Images are captured through a process called diffraction, or shadow-based, imaging. An ordinary light-emitting diode (LED) from the top illuminates the sample, and the detector array already installed in mobile phone cameras captures the image, recording the patterns created by the shadows resulting from the LED light scattering off of the cells in the sample. Because cells are semi-transparent, enough information is obtained from this type of imaging to detect sub-cellular elements, and to produce holographic images. By using an inexpensive LED light instead of a laser as typically required for holographic imaging, the size and cost are further reduced.

The mobile phone microscope is also easy to use, and versatile. Samples (blood smears or saliva) are loaded into single-use chips that easily slide into the side of the microscope. Because the microscope uses the entire detector array to capture an image and has a relatively large aperture, it has a wide imaging field-of-view. Samples do not need to be precisely aligned for images to be captured, and the chance of debris clogging the light source is lessened. Alternate uses of the technology include testing water quality in the field following a disaster like a hurricane or earthquake.

The lensless imaging platform is an ideal telemedicine tool because it is so easily integrated with mobile phones, which are becoming cheaper to produce while gaining sophistication. Even base models in developing countries often have cameras. Ozcan’s group developed an algorithm that instantly identifies and counts red and white blood cells and microparticles in samples, a time consuming process typically done by trained technicians. The image results are then sent by the mobile phone to centralized hospitals for analysis by doctors. As an alternative for people whose mobile phones don’t have built-in cameras, Ozcan’s group also created a standalone lensless microscope that only requires a USB connection for power and to upload the captured shadow images to either a laptop or mobile phone for transmission.

Field tests of the mobile phone microscope will begin in Africa this summer using funds received from the three major awards. In early May a proposal of Ozcan’s was selected by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a $100,000 Grand Challenges Exploration Grant; in mid May he was selected as a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, for which he will receive $10,000; and in late May he received $400,000 for a CAREER award from the NSF.

Marty Cooper, the "Father of the Mobile Phone"

Marty Cooper, the “Father of the Mobile Phone”, did a fantastic job on his 60 Minute Interview tonight (Sunday, May 23, 2010).

During that interview, Marty pointed out that one of the obvious future direction of Mobile Phone technology was in Healthcare.

[mc src=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybUQJr4FhPc” type=”youtube”]Marty Cooper, the “Father of the Mobile Phone”[/mc]

If you want to see the full interview Follow this link

NHS Grampian board's "Texting or Talking?" scheme aims to cut binge-drinking

Text message plan to curb binge drinking among young adults

Published Date: 13 May 2010
By Frank Urquhart

SCOTTISH health professionals are turning to text messaging in a radical bid to curb binge drinking among young adults.

NHS Grampian researchers have been chosen to carry out a year-long project in which people in their twenties seen as “hazardous” drinkers will be sent text messages, it was revealed yesterday.

Before they set out for pubs and clubs in Aberdeen at weekends, the texts will urge them to drink in moderation.

The tactic has proven effective in previous initiatives designed to help people quit smoking and to exercise more.

Dr Steve Baguley, sexual health specialist at the city’s Woolmanhill Hospital, who is heading the Scottish Government study, said the aim was to recruit more than 1,000 volunteers, mainly in their twenties, to take part in the pilot scheme and compare three different methods of intervention aimed at curbing excessive drinking.

One group will given be advice leaflets. The second group will be dealt with through a “brief intervention” – a short structured interview with a health professional which is the most common initiative currently used to encourage moderate drinking. The third group will receive text messages.

Those taking part in the so-called Texting or Talking study will be selected for the three groups at random.

Dr Baguley said: “Binge drinking is very common among people who come to sexual health clinics and we found in one study that 50 per cent were hazardous drinkers.

“Hazardous drinking – or binge drinking – is associated with poor sexual health: catching sexually transmitted infections, getting pregnant when you don’t want to and being sexually assaulted.”

He said the aim was to send the texting group a series of messages to their mobiles every Friday night before they leave home for a night out.

The messages will urge: “If you’re drinking this weekend, take it easy.” There will then be an additional text, containing various messages, including: “Make sure it’s you making the decisions. Eat before and while you drink. Use soft drink spacers.”

They will also be warned: “You’re more likely to be sexually assaulted if you’re drunk. Alcohol provokes the desire but takes away the performance.”

Dr Baguley added: “We are not trying to say don’t drink. We would just turn people off if we tried to insist on that. It is really to try to help people gain control of the situation when they are going out drinking.

“Texting has never been tried for alcohol before. Texting has been tried internationally and found to be effective for smoking cessation, weight loss and for promoting exercise and in the control of diabetes.

Click the link for more on text messaging scheme

NHS Fife & Tayside battle to reduce missed health appointments

NHS TAYSIDE and NHS Fife have brought in a number of initiatives to drive down missed hospital appointments, which are costing the region’s health services over £2 million a year.

Other schemes are also being explored in a bid to reduce the drain on NHS resources.

Over 20,000 new patients last year failed to turn up for their first hospital appointments in Tayside and Fife.

The figure included 1422 appointments for general surgery.

A spokesperson for NHS Tayside said, “We are currently exploring a range of initiatives which could help reduce the number of patients not turning up for their outpatient appointments.

“One of these is a system called ‘patient-focused booking’ where we write to patients six weeks before they are due to attend an outpatient clinic and invite them to call us to arrange an appointment time and date which suits them.

“We are also currently piloting an automated telephone reminder service in our renal department.”

This pilot will be closely monitored over the next three-six months to assess whether a patient reminder does have a positive effect on missed appointments.

Another project about to start works directly with patients themselves to look at what kind of appointment systems suit them best to help understand why people do not turn up for scheduled appointments.

“We believe all these initiatives can make a difference but we would still urge people to contact us as soon as possible if, for any reason, they are unable to attend the outpatient clinic,” the spokesperson added.

“This allows us to give someone else the original appointment and rearrange a more suitable date and time for the patient.”

Public spending watchdog Audit Scotland puts the cost of an average outpatient appointment at £112.

Figures show 9.5% (12,223) of 128,671 new outpatients missed appointments in Tayside in 2008, costing £1,368,976.

Last year there were 131,491 and 9.2% were skipped (12,097), costing £1,354,864.

There was also a rise in missed appointments on the other side of the Tay.

The figures show 8.6% (7228) of a total of 84,051 new patients missed outpatient appointments in Fife in 2008, costing £809,536 on average.

That went up to 8.8% (7906) of 89,850 in 2009, costing £885,472.

A spokeswoman for NHS Fife said, “The cost of missed appointments varies from specialty to specialty. NHS Fife has implemented a number of schemes to reduce the number of missed appointments.

A ‘patient-focused’ booking system has also been in place for a number of years in Fife and initially reduced missed appointments.

“To reduce the number of missed appointments further, NHS Fife has piloted a text reminder system in a few specialities over the last year and is examining how this can be extended,” she added.

In addition, as waiting times have reduced over the last few years, referral management and outpatient booking systems are being reviewed to ensure they are able to respond to the shorter waiting times.

Last year across Scotland 10.3% (150,502) of 1,461,190 appointments were missed, costing £16,103,714.

The figure has gone down from 10.4% (144,240) of 1,386,929 appointments skipped in 2008, costing £15,433,680.

Click the link to read more about missed healthcare appointments

BCS Health Scotland Conference 2010

health scotland logo

22nd and 23rd September 2010

Glasgow Science Centre www.glasgowsciencecentre.org

Giving you advance notice that our conference this year will be the biggest and brightest yet! We are staging this event at the prestigious Glasgow Science Centre where you not only have great views over the Clyde and City but complementary entrance to the fun science exhibits. The futuristic building mirrors BCS Health Scotland’s innovative and forward looking approach..

We have three themes this year which are quality, innovation, and efficiency.

Keynote speakers include:

Matthew Swindells, former CIO Connecting for Health, and chair BCS Health

Rikard Lovstrom from Sweden to talk about their National Patient Overview project and eHealth strategy

Dorothy Whittick from Canada talking about the Canadian Health Infoway national developments and a Wellness project in Alberta

Brian Robson from Scotland on the Quality theme and his experiences from the USA.

PRESENTATIONS INVITED – Do you have something interesting to present in one of our themes ?

To get in touch please use the contact form

Exhibitions confirmed include:

AtosOrigin Alliance Emis
INPS Intersystems
Microtech Support Orion Health
Voice Technologies and many more in the pipeline

Exhibitors are staging a social networking evening after the first day events so look out for a fun time as well as stimulating and thought provoking discussions.

If you would like to Exhibit please contact Neil Campbell using the contact form

NHS Scotland eHealth Awards!

An exciting new departure will be the ‘NHS Scotland eHealth Awards!’.  These awards are given to winning NHS teams for three categories sponsored by BCS and Scottish Government, look out for an announcement in the next few weeks.

MedApps Launch Remote Monitoring Pilot for CHF Patients

MedApps and Meridian Health Launch Remote Monitoring Pilot for CHF Patients

Scottsdale, Arizona – January 14, 2010 – MedApps, Inc., a leading mHealth (mobile / remote health monitoring) company, announced today that it will partner with Meridian Health, a leading comprehensive healthcare provider in New Jersey, to initiate a chronic disease management pilot focused on patients discharged from acute care settings with  Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).  The focus of the program is to monitor the participants on a daily, near real-time basis, to improve patient outcomes and decrease re-admissions to the hospitals within 30 days.

Meridian will deploy MedApps’ products, featuring HealthPAL and HealthCOM, to provide specific biometric data  (i.e. weight) for review by collaborating monitoring nurses and attending physicians. The program’s objectives include:  1) Monitor signs and symptoms immediately after discharge from hospital environments and provide comprehensive, individualized education and follow up support; 2) Promote patient self-management, independence and adherence to prescribed treatments; and  3) Help identify early signs / symptoms of worsening conditions in a post acute environment. A further and equally important goal will be to reduce re-admission rates and ER utilization of patients with CHF.

MedApps is well positioned to support the Meridian out-patient program, as the health industry at large strives to improve out-patient care and monitoring, while reducing associated costs.  The MedApps System has been FDA-cleared to integrate with a variety of medical monitors to remotely transmit, store and report timely, accurate health information virtually anywhere.

You can find out more information on MedApps website