News round-up (May 13)

man looking at online news headlines
13th May 2021 about a 4 minute read

Yet another busy news week with the headlines dominated by the Queen’s Speech and its fallout. As expected the government unveiled plans for a Health and Care Bill, which proposes widespread changes to the NHS.

There was also a commitment to producing a Life Sciences Strategy. But, as widely predicted, social care reform was noticeably absent, leaving Care England to question how much longer the sector could be expected to “limp on”.

Meanwhile, in other news…

Is AI music the best medicine?

The BBC website ran a story from its Tech Tent podcast about claims that using AI to compile playlists tailored to an individual patient can reduce anxiety and pain.

The technology is being trialed by the NHS in Lancashire with measurable effects such as reductions in heart rate and levels of cortisol.

AI algorithms are said to be better at choosing relaxing music than people’s own personal taste.

Personalised pacemakers could help heart patients keep fit

The University of Leeds highlights a study suggesting people living with heart failure could benefit from personalised pacemakers to help them exercise safely, 

Pacemakers are often implanted in patients to help retune the heart’s pumping function, and are programmed using a default algorithm to increase heart rate during exercise.

But early research by a team at the School of Medicine suggests this “one size fits all” algorithm does not always improve a person’s ability to exercise. 

Now the British Heart Foundation has awarded the team almost £260,000 for a new trial involving 100 patients to assess the best approach for improving the function of the heart and exercise capacity.

The City’s hunger for success and willingness to push boundaries is infectious, says tech guru

An interesting interview in CityA.M. with Jeremy Silver, CEO of digital technology innovation firm Digital Catapult.

He talks about how his organisation and its partner companies adapted fast to lockdown. He says virtual and hybrid ways of working are the future, but physical clusters and hubs will always be needed.

He also warns that it’s vital to get the balance right between supporting lots of new businesses, and maintaining support for existing companies looking to invest in advanced digital technologies.

NHS’s £160 million ‘accelerator sites’ to tackle waiting lists

The NHS has announced a £160 million initiative to tackle waiting lists.

A group of ‘elective accelerators’ will each receive a share of the cash along with additional support to implement and evaluate innovative ways to increase the number of elective operations.

Virtual wards and home assessments, 3D eye scanners, at-home antibiotic kits, ‘pre-hab’ for patients about to undergo surgery, AI in GP surgeries and ‘Super Saturday’ clinics – where multi-disciplinary teams come together at the weekend to offer more specialist appointments – will also be trialled.

The FT also has a take on the story and features 100 year old Emily Crocker, who is one of a number of patients who have received new kits in the post. 

They contain a kidney test and instructions for her carer on how to download an app, use a urine test and photograph the result on a smartphone. 

Interpretability vs explainability: It’s mostly about trust

A cardiologist writes on the AI Med website about the importance of trust when it comes to using AI.

He notes that the the rationale for machine and deep learning decisions is a requirement for trust amongst healthcare professionals. Some professionals may be reluctant but they need to remember that they themselves often make the right decision but don’t always know exactly how they came to that decision.

Building post-pandemic resilience through science, technology and innovation

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development is bringing together experts to explore how science, technology and innovation can contribute to a sustainable and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion will take place at a meeting of the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD) from 17 to 21 May.

The session will start by addressing the theme of “Using science, technology and innovation to close the gap on Sustainable Development Goal 3, on good health and well-being.”

They will also focus on how blockchain technology has the potential to revolutionise processes from finance to pharmaceutical industries, and public services to humanitarian work.



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