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Nurses will trial use of cutting-edge digital healthcare devices

Apps and wearable monitors will feature in NHS England Test Beds programme

Nurses will pioneer the use of new digital technology and data in a bid to modernise NHS care.

Healthcare professionals and patients will trial combinations of devices such as wearable monitors and sensors, as well as apps. NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens announced the NHS Innovation Test Beds programme at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The health service will collaborate with companies such as IBM, Philips and Verily (formerly Google Life Sciences) in seven 'test beds' in England. Innovations found to be beneficial could be adopted across the NHS.

Patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes in a trial area in the west of England will use wearable sensors and supporting software to manage their condition. In Birmingham and Solihull, service users and clinicians will have access to online support, risk assessments and crisis intervention plans to manage mental health conditions. In a north east London trial, combinations of technologies including a social network app offering peer support, and a device that assesses falls risk and mobility will aim to help older people remain independent. And in Rochdale, data analysis will be used to identify older people at risk of critical health events. 

Nurses will work closely with doctors to monitor the conditions of patients involved in the projects. 

Mr Stevens said: 'Over the next decade major health gains won’t just come from a few ‘miracle cures’, but also from combining diverse breakthroughs in fields such as biosensors, medtech and drug discovery, mobile communications, and artificial intelligence (AI) computing.

'Our new NHS programme aims to cut through the hype and test the practical benefits for patients when we bring together some of these most promising technologies in receptive environments inside the world’s largest public, integrated health service.'

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