New NHS mental health data hub, Babylon Healthcheck and more UK digital health news briefs

NHS Digital introduces new mental health data hub, Babylon creates new Healthcheck feature, and institute launches £3m competition paving the way for a UK-wide infrastructure for health data research.
By Leontina Postelnicu
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Babylon Healthcheck service; Credit: Babylon

NHS Digital launches mental health data hub. NHS Digital has created a mental health data hub to give healthcare workers, patients, charities and others easier access to national mental health statistics, with its launch coinciding with World Mental Health Day. The new online tool provides links to additional sources of mental health data from other organisations, building on NHS Digital's GP data hub initiative developed last year. 

“As well as improving access, we hope the hub will assist in our efforts to improve data quality by enabling organisations to see how they compare in terms of data submissions,” said Ramesh Notra, NHS Digital Principal Information Analyst in Community and Mental Health.

This week, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that Jackie Doyle-Price would become the UK’s first Minister for Suicide Prevention and pledged £1.8m to the Samaritans to ensure the charity’s helpline remains free for the next four years. Statistics show that there were more than 6,200 suicides in the UK and Republic of Ireland in 2017. 

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Competition announced to inform the design of a UK-wide infrastructure for health data research. Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) has launched a £3m competition for up to eight sprint exemplar innovation projects that would bring together academic, NHS and industry representatives to inform the design of the £37.5m Digital Innovation Hub programme, which aims to create a UK-wide infrastructure to connect regional health and care data with biomedical data through between three to five hubs across the UK, funded by UK Research and Innovation’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. 

“This will enable accredited researchers, scientists and innovators to work together, and safely and securely use NHS and other health-related data to harness scientific knowledge and emerging technologies, across populations of between three to five million people,” according to the Medical Research Council. 

Successful projects will receive between £100,000 and £400,000. Applications are open until 7 December

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Babylon launches new, free AI-powered Healthcheck feature. Babylon has introduced a new service called Healthcheck through its app to help people understand how their lifestyle choices impact their physical and mental health and suggest changes for "healthier living". Users are advised that the functionality, based on three assessment questionnaires covering nutrition, activity and mood, is for "information purposes only" and is not a "substitute for medical diagnosis or advice".

The introduction of the new, free service follows a recent announcement from Babylon that the company would invest $100m to double its team of scientists and engineers in London and apply AI to target chronic disease. In October, the London-based health tech hub was included in the 2018 LinkedIn list of most sought-after start-ups to work for in the UK.

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EY releases preliminary findings from survey looking at how receptive consumers and physicians are to using digital health tools. A new survey carried out by EY in mid-2018 of more than 6,000 consumers and over 500 physicians in England, Australia and the Netherlands, assessing their attitudes toward digital health solutions, found that, overall, the "least well-regarded" aspect of health system performance was the introduction of innovations, with one third of physicians (32 percent) arguing that their systems were "failing" in this regard. But preliminary findings released in EY's New horizons annual report also indicate that in both England and Australia consumers viewed the introduction of digital health solutions "far more favourably" than physicians.

Meanwhile, EY also found that eight in ten physicians thought that technologies reducing administrative burden could make care "more efficient and be more convenient for patients", while consumers said they were willing to share their biometric data (75 percent) and patient-generated data (70 percent) with physicians, with 72 percent believing that this "definitely leads to improved health".

“Consumers are now accustomed to technology making their lives easier, speedier and more convenient. They expect more simplified, coordinated interactions throughout their care and they expect the health ecosystem to deliver what they already have in other areas of their lives: connectivity, mobility, agility, transparency, immediacy and the tools for self-direction. Health systems today must invest in designing the right consumer experience,” said David Roberts, EY Global Health Sector Leader. 

The full results of the study will be published later this year. 

Twitter: @1Leontina
Contact the author: lpostelnicu@himss.org

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