Health innovations in Yorkshire and the Humber have the potential to transform the delivery of care and improve outcomes for patients across the country, according to senior NHS leaders.
New technologies, products and services are being adopted and spread across health and care systems in the region as part of an effort by the Yorkshire & Humber Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) to support the NHS with its post-pandemic recovery.
More patients are avoiding unnecessary hospital visits thanks to new technology that enables them to self-monitor their health conditions at home. Staff resource is being used more effectively thanks to the capabilities of new products and applications that allows for non-urgent medical examinations and consultations to be done remotely. And healthcare professionals are being given the tools to help manage the elective cancer care backlog by identifying high-risk patients earlier.
These are just some of the innovations that the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN has been working with to support the NHS and its local Integrated Care Systems (ICS) to deal with the challenges that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 such as: health inequalities and improving access to care for all and acting against the climate crisis by helping the NHS to reduce its carbon footprint.
This week, NHS England and NHS Improvement’s Matt Whitty, director of innovation, research and life sciences and Dr Tim Ferris, director of transformation were joined by other senior figures from national NHS organisations on a visit to the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN to hear about how the region’s thriving life sciences sector is a hotbed for digital and health innovation – creating jobs, building assets, and providing a blueprint for how healthcare will be delivered in the future.
Matt Whitty said: “We want to understand which models are working most effectively for innovators, for patients and for NHS organisations. We’ve seen a really good range of innovators from digital products that are supporting women to look after their own health needs right through to AI solutions that are showing real promise in supporting the earlier diagnosis of cancer. They’ve all got great potential so we’re really optimistic.”
With 670 life sciences companies in the region, the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN’s digital health accelerator, Propel@YH is helping to generate inward investment and supports its partners at Leeds City Council to achieve their ambition of creating the most diverse set of entrepreneurs in the world who can create the best solutions for the benefit of the population.
Dr Tim Ferris, said: “Meeting the innovators has been an extraordinary experience for me. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to spread those innovations more broadly and therefore improve outcomes within the NHS.
“The AHSN Network and all of its partners can come together to transform the NHS into a modern, productive, very patient-centred health service. The AHSN Network has that potential.”
Richard Stubbs, CEO of Yorkshire & Humber AHSN said: “It has been a huge honour to welcome our guests from the NHS. We’ve shown how we’re not just working on delivering innovations for frontline use but why the innovation is so crucial to some of the big challenges we face. It’s all about the elective backlog, health inequalities, equality and diversity within the NHS and environmental sustainability and we’ve told a bigger story by demonstrating how we’re delivering on the ground, with some fabulous innovators who have some amazing ways of being able to transform the delivery of care for patients.
“At events like these, it’s even more of a privilege to be Chief Executive of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN. To sit back and see the amazing partnerships we have, seeing our innovators in the flesh and hearing about the impact they are having on patients has been a really proud moment and it shows just what we’re achieving as an AHSN.”
The VIP guests had the opportunity to hear from some of our innovators during their visit. As part of the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN showcase, the innovations highlighted on the day were:
Healthy.io – A kidney home-testing kit and smartphone app that helps people with Type 1 diabetes to manage their long-term condition and reduces the risk of them developing chronic kidney disease. It does this by helping GP practices to improve their completion rate of NICE’s recommended annual kidney health urine check. The innovation reduces the NHS carbon footprint by avoiding the need for patients to visit healthcare settings to provide urine samples and, because of this, it also releases time to care for frontline staff.
In 2020, working in partnership with Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Healthy.io, the AHSN rolled out the product in Leeds with huge success, recording an increase in testing. There are now plans to support the roll out of the home testing kits across West Yorkshire, with around 20,000 patients eligible for the service. This is now going to be doubled through additional national funding and as a result of the interest from Leeds CCG and Primary Care Network.
PinPoint – Its artificial intelligence cancer detection test allows clinicians to ‘red flag’ high-risk patients and has been validated in retrospective assessments of 147,000 patients. It uses machine learning to combine signals from multiple blood analyses and basic patient information into a single clinical decision support tool. The test will provide Cancer Alliances with innovative solutions that are ready to be adopted at scale, across a range of cancer pathways.
The project is part of an ongoing collaboration between the AHSN Pinpoint Data Science, the University of Leeds and the NHS.
Yorkshire & Humber AHSN has provided Pinpoint with a range of support including advice on their business case and NHS value proposition and help with a successful Innovate UK grant.
TytoCare – A wireless, handheld examination device that allows users to perform medical examinations anytime, anywhere. Examinations can be on-line, live or can be recorded by the patient, parent or carer and uploaded for review by a clinician. The Yorkshire & Humber AHSN advocated for TytoCare’s device to be included in NHSX’s Joined Up Care Programme and are now supporting 14 healthcare organisations across the region to implement pilots across a range of different care settings ranging from children’s hospitals to care homes and emergency departments.
The senior NHS figures in attendance at the event held at Nexus, University of Leeds were: Dr Tim Ferris (director of transformation, NHS England), Matt Whitty (director of innovation, research and life sciences, NHS England and Chief Executive of the Accelerated Access Collaborative) and his chief of staff, Pollyanna Jones, alongside; Zainab Garba-Sani (clinical innovation manager, NHS England), Helen Bevan (chief transformation officer, NHS Horizons), Tony Browne (head of innovation, NHSX), Alice Williams (head of patient and public involvement for Innovation, Research and Life Sciences, NHS England) and Alan Blighe (senior innovation manager for Innovation, Research and Life Sciences, NHS England).
Find out more about the work and impact of Yorkshire & Humber AHSN by reading our impact report.
Watch our playlist of videos featuring some of our VIP guests and Richard Stubbs giving us their thoughts about the day.