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Health Innovation Manchester awards £100,000 funding to fast track innovative digital healthcare solutions

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Ben Bridgewater

Health Innovation Manchester has awarded almost £100,000 of funding to three businesses and organisations to help them accelerate their innovative digital healthcare solutions.

The Innovation Funds provide financial support to projects that will improve the health and wellbeing of patients and citizens by making the best use of existing and emerging digital opportunities in health and social care.

The projects granted a share of the funding include; IT technology to improve outcomes for patients at high risk of complex wounds; an app to increase exercise and prevent falls amongst older people; and a digital platform to enhance identification and reduce the rate of obesity in children and young people.

To be awarded funding, the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and organisations needed to demonstrate collaboration with NHS or social care partners and, potentially, academic or other industry partners.

Ben Bridgewater, Chief Executive of Health Innovation Manchester, said: “In order to transform health and social care to meet the demands of citizens it is vital that innovative digital products are brought to market quickly and efficiently.

“The projects given funding are perfect examples of the digital innovations being produced and developed on our doorstep in Greater Manchester to meet the needs of local people and patients.

“Health Innovation Manchester is uniquely placed to connect researchers, academics, businesses and the NHS, champion digital innovations and improve the health and wellbeing of Greater Manchester’s population.”

Funding was awarded to The University of Manchester to investigate the health benefits of a gamified exercise and health literacy app for older people.

The “Keep-On-Keep-Up” app incorporates exercises based on clinically proven routines and games to raise awareness of safety at home, hydration and nutrition, and health literacy.

It will be aimed at older people living in sheltered housing facilities who have a range of long term health conditions, such as diabetes and arthritis, that increase their risk of functional decline, falls and hospital visits.

The funding will also help to set up a Community Interest Company, between the University of Manchester, Reason Digital and New Charter Housing Trust, to enable the technology to be ready for market.

Dr Emma Stanmore, Senior Lecturer, Division of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work at The University of Manchester, said: “With an aging population it is vital that new ways to improve the health of our older residents are developed and implemented.

“The funding will allow us to develop the app further and investigate its effects within sheltered housing facilities in Manchester.”

Funding has also been awarded to Manchester-based software consultancy MDSAS so their highly successful and innovative IT platforms (ERIC – Electronic Referral Integrated Care System and SiD App – Secure Image Data) can be used to transform the management and outcomes for patients with complex wounds, such as those experienced by people with diabetes.

Complex wounds have a significant impact on a patient’s quality of life — they are often very painful, at risk of infection and can lead to amputations. The overall management of complex wounds in Greater Manchester is projected to be £600 million by 2020/21.

Care for those with complex wounds is mainly delivered by community nurses and podiatry services as well as vascular outpatient clinics. These resources, particularly in community, are often overstretched with limited electronic data collection.

The project will be delivered by a highly experienced team, with MDSAS adapting IT platforms for use in wound management.

It will allow the rapid and accurate transfer of data, including wound images, among different services to allow targeted early intervention and improved management, with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust co-ordinating clinical implementation of the platforms and The University of Manchester ensuring relevance for research.

Ultimately, the project will lead to much improved patient outcomes and potentially multi-million pound savings for the NHS, with the long-term potential for international implementation.

Rob Hollingsworth, MDSAS Managing Director, said: “Winning the grant from Health Innovation Manchester has provided us with the crucial support we needed to utilise our successful software platforms in NHS wound care, which we anticipate will deliver significant improvements for patient care and financial savings for the NHS.”

Manchester-based iQ Digital Health have also received funding to help combat child obesity through the development of an innovative digital platform with Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust.

The award will allow the continued development of NHS Children’s Health and Monitoring Platform (CHAMP), to reduce obesity in children and young people through value driven data feedback.

Statistics from the 2016/2017 National Child Measurement Programme found that more than a third of children in Greater Manchester were classed as overweight or obese by the time they left primary school.

The main objective is to develop a web-based platform that is scalable, and accessible by multiple users including parents, carers, health care professionals, education leadership, academia, clinical and data scientists.

The current CHAMP platform was developed in 2012 by MFT’s informatics team and receives 45,000 measurements each year from Manchester’s School Health Service who measure all children in 137 primary schools across the city.

The project funding will allow development of an extended platform that will engage with a broader audience, further increasing the proven impact of CHAMP in reducing obesity in children and young people.

Sarah Vince-Cain, Clinical Programme Manager – CHAMP MFT, commented: “This is an extremely exciting and pioneering project that offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand how children in Manchester are growing, with the potential to predict weight related illness and the ability to identify children at highest health risk.”

Simon Poyser, Managing Director of iQ Digital Health, a division of iQ Media, added: “We are delighted to have won the Health Innovation Manchester award and to be working with the team at MFT, to build on and extend their ground-breaking work.

“This is a great and very significant use of digital health that will significantly reduce childhood obesity, by using the technology to improve outcomes, focus on prevention, and reduce healthcare service dependency, by improving communication with both the patient and the Health Care Professional.

“This will be achieved by developing CHAMP into a scalable, multiuser innovative digital platform, with a responsive design and contemporary user interface.”