Bridging the gap between patient care and technology
Written by Karen Borusiewicz
In the medical world technology is advancing rapidly and driving innovation forward. As a result, we have an increasingly impressive array of medications, medical procedures and tools to treat our patients. However, for the very basic task of recording patients’ vital information and keeping track of their needs, we are often mired by the inefficiency of old systems.
Healthcare professionals have unique needs when it comes to patient care: capturing large amounts of spoken and handwritten data, continued education and training and a high requirement for accuracy and accountability in day-to-day tasks.As a nurse practitioner working in the human services field, the difficulties this industry is having finding its place in the digital age are especially apparent and I will be the first to admit that we need a little help.
Any healthcare professional or anyone in a leadership or management position needs to be accountable for their actions. We cannot rely exclusively on our memory; should it fail us, it might mean someone’s life is in jeopardy. That is where the Smartpen comes in, bridging the crucial gap between the immediacy of physical notes and the versatility of the digital world.
For me, the Livescribe Echo Smartpen is my peripheral brain. It captures everything I write and hear, and syncs the audio with the ink strokes. Medical professionals can write down keywords from conversations, consultations and educational offerings, touch the words with their Smartpen and hear audio from the moment they penned those notes.
Think of the potential value for medical consultations where, with patient consent and involvement, handwritten notes and audio can become a ‘pencast’, which can be searched by keywords and shared with the patient or collaborating physician digitally. Entire appointments can even be recorded to ensure important patient information is not missed. There is also an annotation feature, so users can go back and add additional audio or written notes anytime.
There are no limitations to the use of a Smartpen; I am able to share written information with patients and colleagues via email without the aid of a fax machine, something that is particularly important when I travel for work. I also no longer worry about losing a note I wrote while working in the field; the portability of the Smartpen and immediate access to the vital information it holds provides peace of mind.
The Smartpen offers doctors and nurses an innovative way of interacting with patients so they can be sure every symptom they describe is captured and heard and for me, it keeps me accountable to my patients, to my colleagues, and to myself.
As companies like LiveScribe create innovative healthcare products that professionals can use at every level, the gap between technology’s role in medical research and healthcare practice slowly narrows. And in a world that changes from day to day, technology may be the epidermis of healthcare, the large organ holding everything together.
Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool
An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system.
NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion.
Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making.
In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog.
Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening.
DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.
Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.
Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges.
"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”