Tag Archives: innovation

Med-Tech Innovation Conference 25-26th April 2018

Report by Stephen Ayre, Library Services Manager, George Eliot Hospital, Stephen.ayre@geh.nhs.uk

I recently attended the Med-Tech Innovation Conference at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry. As the main focus of this event was medical devices, it was out of my previous experience. What particularly interested me was the horizon scanning.

Karen Taylor spoke on the November 2017 Deloitte report The future awakens: Life Sciences and Health Care Predictions 2022. Deloitte’s six predictions for 2022 are:

1             Quantified self

Individuals will be better informed about their conditions. They want best treatments and to stay healthy. They are becoming true consumers. This trend is facilitated by the Internet of medical things. An example is OurPath for diabetes management.

  1. The culture in health care is transformed by digital technologies

Smart technology will make hospitals more efficient to better monitor patients and reduce length of stay, leading to smaller hospitals and fewer beds. First government funded digital hospital opened in 2017.

Patients know best: patient. Controlled health records systems are being developed.

Drones will deliver medicines; robots will diagnose.

  1. The life sciences industry is industrialised

Pharma are using machine learning to develop drugs, leading to faster development and cheaper drugs. Real-time inventory management with hospitals will become possible. Digital contract management will emerge.

  1. Data is the new health care currency

There has already been a vast increase in data. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to analyse it. Only 0.5 of data is ever analysed. DeepMind Health is being used to monitor vital signs for deterioration. Other applications:  genomics, & using data to control costs.

  1. The future of medicine is here and now

Preventive, predictive, personalised, participatory medicine has already started e.g. CAR T-cell therapy: precision medicine, Combination therapy is being looked at for dementia (No new dementia drug since 2003).

  1. New entrants are disrupting health care

Companies like Apple, Amazon are creating systems. Philips, what was once a lighting company, is emerging as a health company. UK model more resistant to new entrants, but in places like China new systems can be built from scratch, e.g. partnership with IBM for tackling cancer.

Another interesting presentation was from Max Jones of General Electric on the development of artificial intelligence. He presented a Gartner hype cycle on emerging technologies for 2017.

There is a shortage of radiologists in the UK, with a 17% vacancy rate. There is a 4% error rate and more pressure leads to more errors.  AI may provide a solution: it is predicted that AI will be able to read mammograms and chest X-rays by 2020. By 2027 CT of the head, chest and abdomen, MR of the head, knee and shoulder, and ultrasound of the liver, thyroid and carotids will be automated, and within 15 to 20 years nearly all imaging will be interpreted by learning algorithms.

Already Visual Vitals can tell your vital signs by videoing your face and comparing it with a databases. Another system (CliX Enrich can interpret notes from doctors and assign them to patients (discharge letters and handover notes are more informative than hard data). The BVI App can calculate body volume index from photos.

Humans plus machines is the way forward. Humans need to do best what AIs can’t do.

There was a note of caution from Mike Hannay of the Academic Health Sciences Network. Spreading of innovation is hard when there is resistance, e.g. smoking was proved to be harmful in 1954, but smoking rates still high decades later. The average uptake of health innovations is 3.5%. Many clinicians are focuses on immediate survival, Trusts on immediate costs. Compare this to spread of smartphones.

Debbie Chinn of NHS Digital spoke on “Clinical risk management for health informatics.” There is a need for education and training and guidance to underpin standards and regulations. On e-LfH there is Clinical Risk Management training. They have produced a Digital tools library.

Christian Subbe of Bangor University talked about increasing safety. Safety 1 looks at errors. Safety 2 looks at things that went right. Safety 3 looks to create redundancy in networks, e.g. giving data to patients who have a direct interest in safety, like pilot in plane.

Liz Ashall-Payne of Orcha spoke about the Mobile health landscape. Thera are more smartphones on the planet than toothbrushes. There are currently 326,000 health apps, with 5 million downloads per day. Of these, 28% cover mental health, 16% diabetes, 11% heart. The major blockers to wider adoption are awareness, accessibility and trust, e.g. Suicide prevention app promoting suicide. Prank apps; ratings of apps can be gamed. 50% of apps have fewer than 500 downloads. 2/3 of apps zombie apps, I.e. Not maintained. Orcha analyses and categorises apps. Orcha creates local targeted app library, e.g. Lancashire STP, Salford Royal FT. Professional recommendations are key to promoting use. Orcha match apps by conditions, technical preferences, features, demographics. Gaps in the market are childhood obesity and bullying, and the next thing needing to be tackled is interoperability.

This was a conference that is outside normal librarian networks, but was valuable for the insight it gave. It struck me that the rise of Artificial Intelligence is something that Librarians as a profession need to face. If an AI can interpret medical images and notes, then surely an AI will be able to do literature searches. A question to ponder: what is our specific human contribution as librarians?


Emerging Technology Group updates will be produced every 2 months, as members of the group take it in turns to update the wider NHS library community on key topics. This time, we will be discussing blockchain and its implications for health libraries.

Blockchain: what is it?

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum have been prominently featured in the media over the past 6 months or so. They are all based on the same technology: blockchain. Simply, blockchain is a secure digital record keeping system that is spread out across a large network. Information is stored in encrypted blocks which are then chained together. Information cannot be changed once it has been added to the chain, and because the chain is distributed across the whole network, it is very secure. There are more detailed explanations available on Wikipedia or from the LSE Business Review blog.

Implications for healthcare

There are a number of different ways in which blockchain could be applied in healthcare. One option which has seen significant interest is using blockchain to manage the storage and sharing of medical records, as is being explored at MIT. Till et al (2017) have also argued that blockchain could potentially be used to finance universal health coverage. Other potential applications of blockchain in healthcare could be in securely storing and tracking research metadata, global health patterns, or administrative and financial information (Gordon et al, 2017). This is an area that is seeing a lot of research and there are numerous startups exploring the opportunities available.

What about libraries?

Hoy (2017) argues that the blockchain could be used as a digital rights management (DRM) tool to aid in copyright protection. Blockchain could even potentially be used as a library management system to keep track of circulation in a decentralised way (Cabello et al, 2017). Another potential could be in the creation and maintenance of authority records for cataloguing and metadata. The project Blockchains for the Information Profession by San Jose State University is a good source of information and probably the best way to stay up-to-date in this field.

There’s always a but…

The long term viability of blockchain remains to be seen. One of the concerns that has been raised relates to the wider environmental impact of these distributed networks, which is already consuming more energy than the whole of the Republic of Ireland, although this estimate is also up for debate. In addition to this, there remain numerous barriers to the more widespread adoption of blockchain in healthcare or in libraries, not least technical issues relating to the interoperability of metadata, as well as a current lack of clarity around governance, regulation, and wider economic impact (Deshpande et al, 2017).

What can we do?

Keeping abreast of developments in this field so that we can have informed discussions with others within and outside our organisations would be a good place to start. I would argue that the proliferation of private companies leading the way in implementing blockchain in healthcare is an issue of concern. For any solutions to be sustainable in the long term, we need to be playing an active role in conversations around emerging technologies such as this.



YiWen Hon
Knowledge Resources Manager
Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

Sally Hernando Innovation Award Winners 2017

We are pleased to announce the results of the 2017 Sally Hernando Awards for Innovation.

The three winners were selected by Maria J Grant, editor of the Health Libraries and Information Journal, from the top ten entries voted for by regional judges from NHS Library and Knowledge Services across England.

1st prize goes to Samantha Unamboowe, Library Manager at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust – North West London for her project “Multi-Disciplinary Clinical Innovations Database @ RBHT”.

  • Maria Grant commented “This project exemplifies everything you could hope for from the Sally Hernando Innovation Award by mobilising existing organisational knowledge and expertise with the goal of improving patient care. It works within existing technological structures and builds on local collaborations within the Foundation Trust.”

2nd prize goes to Beth Rawson of Derby Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for “The Online Research @ Derby Archive (ORDA)”.

  • Maria Grant commented: “Beth’s project speaks directly to the aspirations of the Knowledge for Healthcare Programme in terms of mobilising evidence and organisational knowledge. ORDA uses Open Access Protocols to capture, store and preserve research outputs to respond to increase the exposure of organisational research activities.”

3rd prize goes to Angela Young of Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust for the “30 Day Research Support Challenge”.

  • Maria Grant commented: “Angela’s project draws on the current trends of fitness challenges and gamification to support library staff development in enhancing knowledge and understanding of research needs of clinical and academic library users. She highlights the continued availability of resources beyond the initial 30 days of training module and presents learning points for future developments.”

The full details of these entries, together with the other innovation entries submitted in 2017 and from previous years, can be found on the library services website.  2017 entries have also been added to the Innovations Database and can be searched there.

Congratulations to our winners who will be funded to present their innovations at Health Libraries Group or an equivalent conference to help disseminate their great work.

We encourage NHS Library and Knowledge Services to start work now on recording and evaluating their innovations for the next submission round.

Dominic Gilroy       – NHS LKS Development Manager – Yorkshire and the Humber
Joanne Naughton – NHS LKS Development Manager – North East

For further information see Innovation awards