Digital Health Age: Weekly news roundup

Digital Health Age takes a look at some of the biggest stories that have emerged over the course of the week.


WannaCry continued

Following on from the WannaCry attack that affected NHS hospitals across England and Scotland, DHA reached out to a number of digital health companies to see what they had to say about the incident.

Andrew Barratt, managing principal for cyber risk management company Coalfire stated that: “With stretched budgets, the NHS is constantly under scrutiny to maximise their investments and this can often mean a deprioritisation of security protection and IT support, leaving them completely exposed and at the mercy of a large ransomware attack.” He went on to say that: “NHS trusts have inconsistent security at best, or at worst, are vulnerable to lots of different attacks.”

Israel Barak, CISO at cybersecurity company Cybereason spoke about the extent of the attacks on the NHS, saying: “The attacks on the NHS trusts across the UK seem to show particularly ruthless calculation even by criminal standards, banking on the trusts having weak defences and being especially desperate to restore access to their systems due to health and even lives being at stake.”


NHS & Deepmind’s inappropriate dealings

Troubles with the NHS continued as more criticism was levelled at the deal between the Royal Free Hospital and Google’s AI subsidiary Deepmind over its handling of patient information.

It was revealed that in a letter leaked to Sky News, dame Fiona Caldicott wrote to the hospital stating that the transfer of 1.6 million patient records was not founded on an ‘appropriate legal basis’.

In her letter to medical director of the Royal Free Hospital, professor Stephen Prowis, Caldicott wrote: “It is my view and that of my panel that the purpose for the transfer of 1.6 million identifiable patient records to Google DeepMind was for the testing of the Streams application, and not for the provision of direct care to patients. Given that Streams was going through testing and therefore could not be relied upon for patient care, any role the application might have played in supporting the provision of direct care would have been limited and secondary to the purpose of the data transfer. My considered opinion therefore remains that it would not have been within the reasonable expectation of patients that their records would have been shared for this purpose.”


Apple gets the bedbug

Apple has bought sleep tracking company Beddit to extends its offering of sleep monitoring technology.

Beddit have been selling its £130 sleep tracker in Apple stores for a number of years. Its tracker consists of a thin strip that when placed on top of a mattress monitors users’ sleeping patterns. The device monitors things such as time slept, sleep quality, heart rate and breathing rate.

Apple’s move towards healthcare has been steadily gaining more traction. Its Apple Watch Series 2 device has been marketed as a serious fitness device and the company acquired health-data company Gliimpse last year.

Apple’s acquisition of Beddit is noticeable as Apple currently doesn’t have its own app for monitoring sleep on its iPhone or Apple Watch products.


Class act: Students develop app that could save NHS millions

A team of medical students from The Manchester Grammar School (MGS) have created an app to address poor medication adherence.

The team attended the third Manchester MedX conference held at CityLabs 1.0 where they presented their idea.

The boys’ idea was awarded best concept of the day, defeating solutions put forward by practicing doctors, consultants and healthcare professionals with years of experience of working in the medical industry.

The team devised a web-based app called MedCloud, which would allow patients and GPs access to a platform that would show how often a patient takes their medication, whether they need their medication to be reviewed and whether the patient has taken the medication at all. Patients would supply their own information to a shared server which GPs could access, and if patients fail to upload their information automatic reminders would be sent.

The application could save the NHS up to £5m a year which is wasted on medicines prescribed to patients but not taken.

Aizaz Chaudhry, who presented the idea said: “I’m really pleased that the judges singled out our idea as the best and most innovative on the day. The conference was really beneficial and I learned how to work together in a team to come up with a creative solution, then try and grasp the essence of the idea to try and advertise it.”



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