Roundup: COVID-19 antibody tests, virtual visits, care support and more news

The pandemic has highlighted the need for innovation and changes needed in the way care is delivered.
By Sophie Porter
06:03 am
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Credit: Imperial Collage 

COVID-19 ANTIBODY TEST

French company IDvet, which specialises in the development and production of tests that detect infectious diseases in farm animals, has announced the launch of a COVID-19 antibody test for humans. The test will determine whether an individual has developed antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, which will enable scientists to better understand infection rates and inform future policy decisions regarding COVID-19.

The test does not require any specialist equipment and is CE marked. IDvet will be able to produce it on an “industrial scale” for people worldwide and have designed it to accommodate for high-volume testing.

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UK REMOTE CARE SERVICE

The UK’s leading remote care provider, Healthcare at Home, is helping care for vulnerable patients across the UK and in the Netherlands in their own homes. The company from Burton-on-Trent employs 1,500 staff who support patients by providing medication deliveries and specialist nurses visits, keeping 190,000 vulnerable people out of hospital where they would be more susceptible to catch COVID-19. The service is caring for 1,000 patients per day who suffer from conditions such as cancers, Crohn’s disease and arthritis.

In order to maintain the efficacy of the service during the pandemic, the company focused on implementing digital tools such as web chat and virtual consultation rooms for patients as well as enabling home working for over 400 of its staff.


PPE WIRELESS COMMUNICATION

Wireless communications systems designer, Quail Digital, have responded to healthcare workers extended criteria for fully enclosed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by creating wireless headsets that enable staff to communicate with each other effectively.

Level 3 PPE is required of medical staff who are working in high risk acute facilities during the pandemic and includes fully enclosed face shields and respirators to protect them from the virus. This, coupled with the high ambient noise of the OR, has made clear communication between staff very difficult, potentially affecting the quality of care they can provide. Quail Digital’s lightweight, hands-free solution was developed specifically for hospital usage, incorporating noise cancellation to facilitate clear, reliable communication between staff without compromising their personal safety.


NHS VIRTUAL VISITS

Seven NHS trusts have launched an initiative to connect hospital patients with their families and loved ones by supplying tablets to patients pre-loaded with remote video and calling apps. The tablets, which are loaned out free of charge, include Skype, Hangouts and Visionable:Connect, a secure video calling service that does not require an account to use and so does not present a barrier for use.

The virtual visiting solution was developed by WiFi SPARK in partnership with many technology providers including Visionable, who are making Visionable:Connect free for four months. The tablets are also loaded with entertainment apps, such as Hospital Radio, SPARK Media Entertainment services and games. The initiative has been adopted by Oxford University Hospitals NHS FT, Liverpool University Hospitals NHS FT, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust, The Christie NHS FT, East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust, and Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS FT.

Similarly, Made Tech have responded to a callout by joint CIO Sonia Patel and developed a virtual visiting platform for London North West University Healthcare NHS Trust and Hillingdon Hospitals FT in under 48 hours. NHS Book a virtual visit app facilitates the management and organisation of video calls between hospital patients and their loved ones while restrictions on visitors are in place. Ward staff can arrange ‘visits’ without having to install any third-party applications and loved ones will receive a unique video link. The service is OS-agnostic, works across all devices and can be accessed by any web browser. Made Tech are hoping to roll this out to other trusts nationally too as soon as possible.


DIGITALHEALTH.LONDON ACCELERATOR OPEN

DigitalHealth.London this week opened up its call for applications to the 2020-2021 Accelerator programme. The programme, now in its fifth year, is looking for “the next generation of digital health companies to transform health and care.” Funded in part by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the NHS, the programme has supported 105 digital health companies to develop digital innovations to help the NHS in London. Applications are open until midnight 5 July 2020.


FACIAL AUTHENTICATION FOR NHS

The leading biometric authentication technology, iProov, is now being used to verify users signing up to NHS login across Android and iOS. The technology enables users to create an NHS login safely and securely through the NHS app, allowing patients to access their medical records, prescriptions and appointments remotely.

With a surge in use of the NHS app, iProov protects users from identity theft whilst empowering patients with access to their health information. The technology, which is also used by banks and governments, has proven itself to cope with high-volume demand and frees up time and resources for NHS Digital as it requires fewer manual processes to set up users’ IDs.


APP FOR TRAUMA TREATMENT

Specialist emissions control company, NOxProtekt, and medical technology company, Cambridge Digital Health, have partnered with the East of England Trauma Network to develop an app that manages care of trauma patients across the region. Network Status is a web-based app that facilitates efficient recording and displaying of capacity in the region’s trauma units, emergency departments, critical care units, operating theatres and specialist services. This centralised service identifies which hospitals are under pressure in advance, ensuring that trauma patients can be managed in the most appropriate place. The app is due to launch on 25 May 2020.


COVID-19 VACCINE SUPPORT

Healthcare startup Nye Health will employ their remote consultation technology to support the COVID-19 vaccine trial undertaken by the University of Oxford. The trial will see around 1,100 participants vaccinated either with the test COVID-19 vaccine or a widely available meningitis vaccine. The Nye Phone will then be used to maintain contact between scientists and clinicians, enabling them to work from home if necessary, as well as ensuring close monitoring of the participants, regardless of their location.

The Nye Phone is NHS Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSTP) compliant and is being made available for free for the duration of the trial. The Nye Phone is currently supporting 10 million patients with their remote care and has been used in NHS ICUs to provide hospital virtual visits with their loved ones.


MIXED REALITY AGAINST COVID-19

Microsoft HoloLens Mixed Reality headsets are being used by frontline medical staff in the fight against COVID-19, it has been announced. Clinicians at Imperial College Healthcare NHS trust can visit patients in high-risk wards in full PPE and a HoloLens, which will feed live footage to colleagues in a low-risk area through the Dynamics 365 Remote Assist app. These clinicians can then support their colleagues with treatment advice and questions via Microsoft Teams.

The use of the headset has resulted in an 88% decrease in the amount of time staff are spending in high-risk areas; a reduction in limited PPE being used, saving up to 700 items of PPE a week; and positive patient feedback. The initiative is being adopted by other hospital trusts across the country, such as University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay, University College London Hospitals and The Leeds Teaching Hospitals.


DANISH PAYROLL SUPPORT SOLUTION

UK-based resource planning solution, Allocate Software, has been chosen to support Denmark with an integrated rostering and payroll solution for healthcare workers. The payroll system, which has been developed alongside Scandinavian software company EG, will be implemented in Esbjerg Municipality, Denmark’s fifth largest municipality. The system will enhance interoperability between EG’s existing payroll software and Allocate’s e-Rostering software, enabling the full automation of Esbjerg Municipality’s scheduling and payroll for healthcare staff and helping the municipality to compile fully-costed, real-time rosters for staff.