NHS Teams Up With Google, IBM, and Phillips To Improve Quality Of Care


In October 2014, the NHS published a broad plan to begin incorporating various new technologies into its standard care guidelines by partnering with private vendors and collaboratively piloting technology-supplemented treatments across the country. Called the “Test Beds” project, the goal of the effort is to use small pilot projects to identify new solutions that have the potential to improve quality of care, and then ramp just those solutions up at a national level. NHS England Chief Executive Simon Stevens explains, “Our new NHS Test Beds program aims to cut through the hype and test the practical benefits for patients when we bring together some of these most promising technologies in receptive environments inside the world’s largest public, integrated health service.”

For the past year and a half, administrators within the NHS have been firming up plans and locking in partnerships in preparation for its first batch of “Test Bed” pilots. Last Friday during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Stevens announced that the first seven pilot programs were ready and would be launching in the coming months.

One project set to launch will involve Google’s Verily life sciences business, Merck, and the NHS as they work together to test big-data algorithms that will predict which patients are most likely to develop long-term chronic conditions, specifically heart failure or COPD, so that NHS staff can target this population for more aggressive early interventions. In a separate project set to launch in Lancashire and Cumbria, Phillips will be working with local NHS staff to identify frail elderly patients at risk of fall-related injuries and patients with chronic conditions at risk for higher levels of hospitalization. These patients will then be offered supplementary telehealth visits that will focus on self care and disease-specific patient education. IBM and GE are teaming up with NHS teams in Sheffield City Region on a project dubbed the “Perfect Patient Pathway.” In this pilot, an integrated intelligence center will be constructed and will coordinate telehealth care for patients with a wide variety of chronic conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, mental health disorders, or respiratory diseases. 

The “Test Beds” program also has an Internet of Things sub-track that focuses on testing projects that involve remote patient monitoring. In one new project, the team is focusing on improving dementia care and allowing patients to live at home longer by asking patients to wear fitness trackers and adding sensors in patient homes, such as on the refrigerator, so that algorithms can pinpoint patients that do not appear to be eating enough. A separate Internet of Things track being run in partnership with HP will focus on capturing glucose readings from diabetics by rolling out wireless glucometers and a supplemental diabetes management app.

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