Making healthcare more efficient with tech – by Mark Hartley

I’m really excited by the news of plans to make London the health-tech capital of Europe with Med City.

There are some really great UK-based health-tech companies coming through, but they don’t always get the same attention as their US counterparts. I’d like to redress the balance in this second blog of the series, concerning efficiency.

Efficiency in healthcare means more than simply cutting costs. Health-tech can have clear benefits for patients in the form of reduced waiting times, as my first example from the UK tech scene demonstrates:

Andiamo

Disabled children who need orthotics can face a waiting time of 13 weeks. Not only does this hinder their mobility in the meantime, but it can affect their later health too. Andiamo seeks to use 3D scanning and printing technologies to reduce the wait time to just 48 hours.

“It was at the 3D print show in London that we first really started to understand how close to the bleeding edge we were.”
Andiamo

Orthotics is carefully regulated to ensure that materials and constructions fit the purpose and provide the required benefits safely. Andiamo has a lot to prove through clinical trials. But benefits like more precise and efficient manufacturing, savings on production costs, and shorter wait times are certainly worth the effort.

SpeakSet

Loneliness and isolation are well-recognised problems for older people, particularly when they are far from family. The busy lifestyles of younger generations often mean that anything more than a phone call is unlikely.

SpeakSet has been designed and trialled – with older people and health clients – to counter isolation and distance to care with easy-to-use video calls. The tech includes a set-top box that connects a regular TV to other devices, including tablets and laptops.

A really versatile solution, SpeakSet can also be used by CCGs, Charities, Care Homes and GP’s to improve quality of care for older people in their own homes.

I’m really excited by the scope of this project. By making it quicker and easier to have a proper conversation with older people, for health professionals as well as for relatives, SpeakSet could both counter loneliness and improve outpatient care.

Future Healthcare

Within the hospital there is also a great deal that tech could achieve. Northern Ireland’s Future Healthcareis a solid example, and seeks to use innovative software and connectivity to make clinical information, patient flow and bed management considerably more efficient.

Award winning smart tech is central to Future Healthcare’s solution, with a variety of products including cloud-based medical appraisals through Medical360, a pager replacement ‘Smart Tasks’ and patient admission and discharge through ‘Smart Beds’.

“Smart Beds is designed to manage bed management and communication among clinicians and hospital administrators in order to improve hospital patient flow, to reduce costs and improve co-ordination of patient care.”
Future Healthcare

With thousands of patients constantly moving through a hospital’s beds and wards, it is crucial that hospital staff have real time access to bed and patient information. So, what I find particularly interesting about Future Healthcare is how their innovative information management can have a real and lasting positive impact on the quality of care provided. For instance, being able to identify an inpatient waiting for surgery based on their patient information, and also transfer them rapidly to a bed that becomes available in a surgical ward.

 

Andiamo, SpeakSet and Future Healthcare each target efficiency gains in very different aspects of healthcare – from hospital to home, and from patient information to orthotics. What is common is that theseperformance gains also improve the level of care for the individual patient. UK health-tech companies and start-ups will no doubt play an important role in creating a better, more effective healthcare system.

In my next blog, I’ll look at some UK tech companies that are engaging with the pharmaceuticals industry and helping to discover new drugs.

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