Innovating the New Normal of Health and Wellbeing

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The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy includes a health and social care support programme, and states potential for “using more tele-medicine and remote monitoring to give patients hospital-level care from the comfort and safety of their own homes”. As remote monitoring and consultation is one of the focus areas for the Catapult’s work in health and social care, our Head of Health and Wellbeing, John Vesey, has outlined his approach to supporting businesses working in this area, and shared current and future innovations which will support the government’s planned recovery.

The approach of the Health and Wellbeing team is to nurture demonstrators and projects and support them to enable small business growth and health sector impact. Change is achieved by the development of scalable solutions as well as opening channels to market via stakeholder engagement and innovative distribution models.

We have two main areas of focus for our activities – emergency response and managing long term conditions; and within these areas we are looking at developments for early intervention and diagnosis, and remote monitoring and consultation.

Emergency Response

In the UK, it is estimated that 30% of emergency hospital admissions are unnecessary as patients could have been treated on-site or at home. The challenge faced is how paramedics can access the appropriate equipment and clinical support to be able to diagnose and treat on-site.

We are currently developing a Health Living Lab which will be a changeable environment where organisations can test new ideas and ways of working within the healthcare sector, to enable the development of diagnostic and communications products and services. The Health Living Lab will be a space for developing new services and capabilities for healthcare pathways enabled by satellite and terrestrial connectivity, with a focus on keeping people out of hospitals and A&E.

For more information on what has been developed so far, please click here to read about our demonstrator ambulance.

Managing Long Term Conditions

Long term conditions kill 41 million people each year, equivalent to 71% of all deaths globally. Approximately, 70% of the NHS budget is spent on managing long-term conditions, but NHS resources are under increasing pressure through population growth and an increase in the number of people with long-term conditions. This issue is not isolated to the NHS, it is a global challenge meaning that a fundamental shift in the way health care is delivered worldwide is needed.

We are working alongside the Connected Places and Energy Systems Catapults to deliver the Innovating for Clean Air programme which is creating innovative ways to monitor air pollution utilising earth observation satellites and support the uptake of electric vehicles in India. Read more about the project here.

Another project we are supporting closer to home with monitoring air pollution is integrating a forecast of pollution to enhance care provision and patient self-management options to support those with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Read more about the project here

Connectivity for healthcare

The Catapult is focusing predominantly on managing and preventing long-term conditions and how we can change the care pathways surrounding them to improve patient care. Looking at the full preventative agenda means looking beyond just the professional-to-patient relationship in the health estate, it means looking at people diagnosed and those not yet diagnosed and how they can be supported in all aspects of life. This inevitably means looking at remote healthcare solutions.

Early detection and timely treatment will deliver high impact, long-term condition interventions – helping prevent illness and improve self-management. Evidence shows such interventions are excellent economic investments because, if provided early to patients, they can reduce the need for more expensive treatment.

It is widely acknowledged that satellite solutions can deliver significant benefit to the healthcare system: communications solutions can enhance emergency care and deliver healthcare solutions to remote and rural locations. Positioning systems underpin much of the tracking needed to deliver emergency care or to support the complex logistics required to deliver consistent access to medicines. Positioning systems provide additional insights into mobility tracking and movement of people, which continues to be important as we look to understand COVID-19 and society’s response to any lockdown measures.

An initiative we are supporting is looking at how satellite connectivity can complement terrestrial connectivity (mobile or fixed) to allow GP services to be delivered in an equitable approach whether into homes, care homes or GP surgeries that are struggling to recruit. Read more about this initiative here.

A project we are involved in is innovating for the prevention of bowel cancer through early detection and the service is being offered into people’s homes thanks to reliable and robust connectivity solutions rather than expecting people to attend hospital appointments. Read more about the AID-GI project through the case study.

The Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy highlights the importance of “using more tele-medicine and remote monitoring to give patients hospital-level care from the comfort and safety of their own homes”. The Catapult recognises this and knows that connectivity is a key requirement for delivery of these services and care pathways. Currently the infrastructure is not in place to enable the same levels of care to be delivered to all. Addressing this with a combination of satellite and non-satellite options will help keep people away from hospitals and clinics wherever possible, delivering health and social care services to their home and community.

If you would like to find out more about our Health and Wellbeing work or to get in touch with the team to discuss working together, please visit our Health and Wellbeing page.