Precision medicine for tailoring patient treatments and cutting-edge pocket-sized CT scanners that cost significantly less to produce and run, than the machines commonly used in hospitals, are just some examples of the innovation that has started to change how healthcare is delivered, to the benefit of patients, health systems and economy.
Remote monitoring of patient vitals data on mobile apps, give clinicians the ability to monitor, assess and adjust treatments remotely such as cardiac equipment, like pacemakers or defibrillators. And let’s not forget, virtual reality that speeds up healing in rehab and artificial intelligence that has been trained to identify lung tumours from radiological scans.
In the UK, we see tech making game-changing health advances, and UK innovators, academia and the NHS, collaborating to make significant life-changing discoveries.
For example, advanced therapy medicinal products based on genes, tissues or cells, are being used to treat a wide range of conditions in the UK, including cancer and rare diseases; this novel approach has come from cutting-edge R&D, made possible through forward-thinking science and healthcare strategy and long-term investment. There are over 130 advanced therapies companies in the UK, which includes university spinouts such as Orchard Therapeutics, Autolus, Cell Medica, GammaDelta Therapeutics and Quethera.
Chris Born, NHS Innovation & Clinical Services Specialist, Healthcare UK
The NHS is rising to the challenges facing our evolving healthcare needs, such as the rise of chronic diseases, and is heavily focused on transforming patient care, outcomes and patient experience. Clinicians are incorporating the latest technological advances into their daily practice to achieve continuous health improvements. The rapid pace in biomedical and technological innovations has transformed the lives of many. By becoming early adopters of innovations, the UK has made great strides in transforming the healthcare landscape.
There are several key drivers that we see as underpinning global healthcare transformation:
- Healthcare need: Growing ageing population, rising prevalence of communicable and noncommunicable disease, move towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC), sustainable development goals on good health & wellbeing, and higher income families.
- Healthcare innovation ecosystem: Access to public health campaigns, incentivising innovators, advanced research strategy, HealthTech, personalised medicine, improved collaborations, and advanced medical manufacturing.
There are many phenomenal innovations that we can talk about…
In a trial, a teenage girl's incurable leukaemia has been cleared from her body in the first use of a revolutionary new type of medicine. Doctors at Great Ormond Street Hospital used "base editing" to perform a feat of biological engineering to build her a new living drug.
Base editing allows scientists to zoom to a precise part of the genetic code and alter it, thereby reprogramming that section of the code with different genetic instructions. The team of doctors and scientists used this tool to engineer a T-cell that was capable of hunting down and killing cancerous T-cells.
The NHS has implemented an AI tool which detects heart disease in 20 seconds while patients are in an MRI scanner. A British Heart Foundation (BHF) funded study concluded the machine analysis had superior precision to three clinicians. It would usually take a doctor 13 minutes or more to manually analyse images after an MRI scan. The technology is being used on more than 140 patients a week at University College London (UCL) Hospital, Barts Heart Centre and Royal Free Hospital.
AI driven TCD ultrasound for open aortic arch surgery
Liverpool Heart and Chest Hospital recently became the first heart centre in the UK and EU to acquire the world's first and only fully autonomous AI driven robotic transcranial doppler (TCD) ultrasound system for use in open aortic arch surgery. The system monitors blood flow velocities during aortic surgery, providing safer patient care.
Clinical Genomics Services for non-chemotherapy treatment
The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, together with the Institute of Cancer Research, is one of the largest comprehensive cancer centres in Europe. The Clinical Genomics service provides an extensive repertoire of genomic testing to detect rare genetic changes in the tumour. The range of specialised genomic cancer tests provide a comprehensive overview of the tumour profile to identify diagnostic markers, treatment targets and potential resistant mutations. The finding of an FGFR fusion test means that the patient has the opportunity of highly effective non-chemotherapy treatment that will prolong survival by a year or more.
Pioneering bowel surgery by robot at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust
The surgery to remove a bowel cancer tumour at The Christie is the first recorded surgical case in the UK. It is likely to be one of only a handful in the world, of robotic surgery to remove part of the bowel.
Pioneering procedure that ‘wraps’ gullet in stomach for those at risk of oesophageal cancer at University College Hospital, London
There is now an incisionless alternative to anti-reflux surgery called TIF - Transoral incisionless fundoplication. TIF uses the ‘EsophyX’ device to reconstruct an ‘anti-reflux valve’ from the patient’s own gullet. Studies have shown that for up to five years after the TIF procedure, GERD symptoms are significantly reduced. TIF takes around 30 minutes and doesn’t require surgery and can reduce the risk of oesophageal cancer in those with chronic acid reflux and Barrett’s oesophagus.
Pioneering procedure to treat rare form of pulmonary hypertension performed on 150th patient
Royal Papworth Hospital is performing balloon pulmonary angioplasty (BPA), a successful treatment option for patients with chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension (CTEPH), a procedure in which a tiny balloon is inserted into the blood vessels of the lungs and inflated to around the size of a pea, pushing the blockage aside, restoring blood flow to the lung tissue.
Arrhythmia: Diamonds used to cool hearts as new service launched
Patients at Royal Papworth Hospital are benefiting from a new cardiology service which uses diamonds to help correct abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia). An ablation is a procedure which uses either heat (radiofrequency ablation) or freezing (cryoablation) on the problematic area of the heart that is triggering the dangerously fast rhythm. A team at Royal Papworth recently performed its first ablations using a catheter containing industrial grade diamonds in the tip, enhancing patient safety and leading to shorter procedure times.
NHS Trust performs 100th DCD heart transplant
In 2015, Royal Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust became the first hospital in Europe to perform a pioneering type of heart transplant - donation after circulatory death (DCD) - and in 2022 performed its 100th DCD heart transplant, making it the biggest and most successful DCD heart transplant centre in the world. The DCD programme increases heart transplants by almost half. They have also proctored a number of centres globally, helping to expand the list of countries who offer DCD heart transplantation.
Connect with the UK at Arab Health 2023 For many years NHS Trusts from across the UK have been working collaboratively with global healthcare innovators and international partners, to support government and private providers around the world with health challenges. At Arab Health 2023, the Department for International Trade is delighted to be bringing a delegation of NHS Trusts to the exhibition to share expertise and look at ways we can work collaboratively with international partners. Come and visit us on the UK Pavilions located in Hall 6 and Hall 2 or visit www.discoverhss.co.uk to find out more. References available on request