Oct 11, 2020

Olympus teams up with NHS for cancer diagnostics

endoscopy
Cancer
covid-19
NHS
Leila Hawkins
2 min
Olympus teams up with NHS for cancer diagnostics
The partnership aims to reduce waiting times for cancer-related appointments...

Optical products manufacturer Olympus and digital health firm Inhealthcare have partnered with the UK's National Health Service (NHS) to create a solution that will shorten waiting times for endoscopies. 

The Digital Education Solution aims to improve health outcomes, reduce missed appointments and ease the strain on overstretched hospitals by digitising the patient journey from referral through to post procedure patient feedback.

Data from the National Endoscopy Database shows activity fell by 95 per cent during the peak of the Covid-19 crisis. To help NHS trusts catch up, Olympus and Inhealthcare have launched the Digital Education Solution. 

The new platform offers personalised support and educational materials for patients, removing admin work for staff at a time when clinics are operating with limited capacity due to the pandemic. 

It's hoped it will reduce paperwork by replacing this with digital communications. This will include instructions on how to prepare for endoscopic procedures. 

In 2017 a national survey of endoscopy practice found that 7 per cent of NHS acute services had "Did Not Attend" rates higher than 10 per cent, which adds a significant cost to the health service. Reduced capacity due to Covid-19 means that missed appointments have become even more costly.

Studies have also estimated that delays to cancer diagnoses and treatment due to the pandemic could lead to an increase in deaths of up to 17% in England

The South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the north of England is adopting the Digital Education Solution at The James Cook University Hospital’s endoscopy unit. Dr John Greenaway, Consultant Gastroenterologist, said: “The service empowers patients with improved communications and helps them overcome any fears they might have ahead of their procedures. It creates capacity within the system by streamlining administrative processes and reducing the bureaucratic burden. We are using the latest innovations in healthcare to deliver specialist endoscopy services as part of our COVID-19 response.”

Graham Popham, Head of Market Access at Olympus, added: “Given the current situation with the pandemic making appointments even more valuable, we feel there has never been a more appropriate time to support patients coming into endoscopy services. We at Olympus anticipate the Digital Education Solution to benefit patients by providing personalised digital support every step of the way on the lead up their appointment to ensure everything runs smoothly for both the patient and the endoscopy team.”

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Jun 14, 2021

Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies

#longcovid
#digitaltherapy
#neuroplasticity
#covid19
4 min
Neuroplasticity expert Ashok Gupta tells us about the symptoms of long Covid, how it affects the brain, and digital therapies

It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain. 

Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain. 

What is long Covid exactly? 

Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.

How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!

When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover. 

If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus. 

The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.

What symptoms does this cause? 

These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.

In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.

This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.

How does long-haul Covid affect mental health? 
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.

How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.” 

We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain. 

We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and  running half marathons again.

At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response. 

The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival. 

What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid? 
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy. 

What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and  become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.

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