MedTech Wednesday: A new AI-powered skin cancer diagnostic tool, tech to address NHS waiting times, and the impact of language barriers in healthcare workplaces

MedTech Wednesday is our regular check-in here at Spreckley, where we share all the most interesting and useful healthcare innovation and health technology news and trends.

This week we will be looking at the trialling of a new AI skin cancer diagnostic tool, how eTriage is helping to tackle wait times in A & E and the fifth of healthcare professionals that face language barriers.

Chelsea and Westminster hospital trial AI skin cancer diagnostic tool

A trial of a new AI skin cancer diagnostic tool has been initiated within the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS foundation trust digitalhealth.net reports, with the tool in question aiming to change the way skin cancer is assessed.

The pilot known as DERM uses AI algorithms to analyse specific magnified images of skin lesions, allowing for patients to be assessed efficiently and obtain treatment promptly if needed. Furthermore, DERM is being used in secondary care in addition to a teledermatology hub – where images of skin lesions are captured to triage cases and find the most appropriate treatment pathway.

This ensures that patients with worrying high-risk skin legions are a priority, while those with benign results are discharged quickly, reducing the ever-building backlog of patients throughout the NHS.

Dr Lucy Thomas, consultant dermatologist at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Like many departments, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the Covid-19 pandemic and this project will evaluate the impact this AI solution can have on relieving pressure on services, reducing delays in detection and treatment and improving outcomes for patients with skin cancer as well as those with non-urgent skin diseases.

The DERM pilot is being funded by the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care award, which is run by the Accelerated Access Collaborative (AAC) in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE/I) and the National Institute for Health Research. This rollout also highlights the expansion of the trust’s partnership with Skin Analytics, as part of the CW Innovation programme

eTriage sign deal with Homerton Hospital to reduce wait times in A&E

The emergency department at Homerton University Hospitals is set to introduce a new electronic check-in service to meet the government target of accessing walk-in patients within 20 minutes digitalhealth.net report.

This new service will combine eTriage from eConsultant Health with Cerner’s Millennium electronic patient record (EPR) system. With the introduction of this partnership, it is hoped that the process of prioritising as well as triaging patients will be sped up decreasing wait times and improving safety overall.

The eTraiage system ensures that those needing immediate treatment are flagged within the hospital EPR ensuring prompt treatment. This will not only free up clinical time, allowing nurses to communicate with patients, but will also screen for covid-19 – directing patients to isolation zones to protect others. It is also anticipated that this new system will improve the integrity and accuracy of data received with patients imputing their own demographic details. A reduction in transcript errors is also expected.

Jean Lyon, senior nurse in Homerton’s emergency department, said: “We believe this new approach to assessing walk-in patients will have a positive effect on our ability to treat patients and further improve their experience inside A&E. It will also futureproof the hospital for the next wave of government targets focused on time to assessment, time to recognition of deteriorating patients and total time in the emergency department.”

Subsequently, the electronic check-in system provides algorithm-based questions about medical history and symptoms to prioritise patients across five key categories. Additionally, the user interface provides a variety of visual clues such as body maps and basic graphics to allow for easy use. The end-to-end system can process up to 350 walk-in patients per day, with an average completion time of 5.4 minutes, based on data of patient journeys using eTriage.

A fifth of healthcare professionals are facing language barriers at work

Alarmingly, healthcare workers across the UK are losing as much as half a working day every week combating language barriers according to Health Business.

An array of people working across the UK healthcare sectors have admitted that communicating with colleagues/patients with English as their least dominant language has affected them from giving the best care.

The results of a survey displayed that a fifth of those asked have faced language barriers when communicating with colleagues and patients almost daily. These findings have been revealed within a new report conducted with 1,000 UK healthcare workers by Pocketalk, a digital translation service. Pocketalk worked with healthcare providers to help overcome language barriers throughout the pandemic.

Joe Miller, general manager at Pocketalk, said: “The UK is made up of a vibrant mix of ethnic groups and addressing diversity in healthcare can save lives.  To best communicate, understand, and treat patients with the best care possible, it’s vital that patients and their families are understood. We commissioned this piece of research because we believe this issue needs support and it’s needed more than ever as our country looks to welcome thousands of Afghan refugees into the UK to rebuild their lives.”