In the news this month:
In Profile – Artificial Intelligence is changing the way we access medical support
– Online triage for Accident & Emergency visits in Birmingham
– Medical problems? Ask Alexa!
NHS & Medical news
– The successful HPV Vaccine programme is being expanded to include boys
– Feeling anxious before your medical procedure? Music could be better than a sedative!
Decontamination & Sterile Services News
– Keeping hospital scrubs germ-free
– Flying insects in hospitals – unexpected germ carriers
– Introducing the Chicopee® Microfibre Light Cloth
– ***COMING SOON*** our spectacular summer sale
In Profile – Artificial Medical Intelligence
AI Triage for A&E Departments
We are lucky to live in an age where medical science is rapidly developing all of the time. It seems like every week there is a new development on the horizon and in our work to support the medical industry in the UK, the team at Newtons Medical Supplies are always interested in the latest developments.
In our previous blog we looked at some of the new high tech medical and surgical practices which are helping to transform the work of the NHS. As its usage becomes increasingly common in all aspects of our lives, it is inevitable that the technology of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have an impact on how we access our healthcare.
Often portrayed in Science Fiction and on the big screen as having the potential to take over the world from humans (!) the reality is that AI has a very interesting part to play in the future of medical technology.
Recent research by medical scientists in Birmingham and reported in the Guardian Online has looked at the feasibility of using AI to triage patients and advise them whether or not they need to visit hospital. The research was commissioned by the University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) Trust which is looking for ways to reduce the number of unnecessary local A&E visits.
In the trial, patients were encouraged to undertake a two minute AI check online before going to hospital to make sure that their visit was really necessary.
The service which will be called ‘A&E online’ or ‘UHB online’ is intended to persuade the 30% of visitors who are deemed ‘avoidable attendances’ to stay at home.
Some commentators have pointed out that patients are likely to prefer real face to face human interaction but Ipsos Mori undertook research on behalf of the NHS long term plan, and found that two thirds of people were happy to have a video conference with their doctor rather than always seeing them in person. So it seems inevitable that many more of us will be accessing our healthcare in this way in the future.
Medical advice – from Alexa!
In other AI news this month it has been reported that our favourite Virtual Home Assistant – Amazon’s Alexa, is now working in partnership with the NHS to answer people’s medical queries.
The aim is for people who rely on the service such as the elderly, or people who experience disability, to have access to the best quality and vetted healthcare information directly from the NHS. The partnership with Amazon has been spearheaded by NHSX, a new unit which is leading the digital transformation of the NHS.
The initiative has been tentatively welcomed for its capacity to reduce the burden of unnecessary medical appointments but the Royal College of GPs has warned that it is not an answer for those patients who have complex medical needs.
What will Alexa tell us next, we wonder?
NHS & Medical News
Expansion of the UK HPV Vaccination Programme
The government is expanding its rollout of the Human Papilloma vaccination scheme for Year 8 pupils throughout the UK. Most commonly associated with cervical cancer, the vaccination was previously only given to girls. However it will now also be offered to boys of the same age.
The HPV virus is known to be responsible for around 5% of cancers worldwide including cervical, penile, anal and genital cancers and some cancers of the head and neck.
The University of Warwick has calculated that by 2058 the vaccine will be responsible for preventing more than 64,000 cases of cervical cancer and nearly 50,000 of other types. Public Health England is encouraging all parents to take up the offer of the vaccination for both their daughters and their sons.
Does the prospect of your medical procedure make you anxious? Music could help
If you are one of the many people who feel fearful when faced with the prospect of a medical procedure or operation, a recent experiment carried out in the US and reported by the BBC has identified a remarkably simple method to help patients deal with their anxiety – the calming power of music.
Scientists played a specially composed piece of music (‘Weightless’ by Marconi Union) which had been designed to reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure and heart rate, to 157 patients who were waiting for operations. People taking part listened to the music through noise cancelling headphones and the experiment found that the music was as effective as a pharmaceutical sedative.
Not only is listening to music a pleasant way to relax but stress hormones released prior to surgery can affect recovery times so it is medically important for patients to remain calm. Plus there is always a risk, however small, with giving drugs to some patients. Music has no known risks and is very low cost.
The only reported side effects of this approach were that the headphones impeded communication between medical staff and patients and many of those who were taking part reported that they would prefer to choose their own music!
Decontamination & Sterile Services News
Keeping hospital scrubs germ-free
Here at Newtons Medical Supplies we are slightly strange, because there is nothing that we like more than news stories about germs! Or more importantly, news that helps us understand them better in our ongoing efforts to support the NHS and other clients to manage and defeat them on a daily basis.
A recent article caught our eye in the Daily Mail Online related to the scrubs worn by hospital staff. A team at the University of Plymouth carried out research on antibiotic-resistant bacteria on the hospital scrubs worn by medical personnel.
The dismaying results showed that even following approved methods of disinfection, using the right amount of time (10 minutes) with the correct chlorine solution, spores of Clostridium Difficile (C.diff) remained on the tested hospital scrubs and in some cases had not even been reduced.
The research will help to establish guidelines which may recommend more concentrated biocides being used to clean scrubs along with the recognition that hospitals should limit where and how scrubs are worn to prevent cross contamination.
From scrubs to flies!
In other germ news, a separate study by researchers in seven UK hospitals has looked at flies and their capacity to carry and therefore transport bacteria.
As we have discussed a number of times in our blogs, scientists are constantly trying to work out how bacteria operates and moves around theoretically sanitised environments. Understanding this is the key to fighting hospital infections. In this study at team from Aston University collected a whopping 19,937 flying insects in 7 hospitals.
These bugs inevitably included lots of different types – the largest group was Diptera – or flies – including houseflies, bluebottles and drain flies, which made up 76%. They were collected over 18 months from different areas of each hospital.
The results of the investigation were stark. Nearly 90% of flying insects carried bacteria capable of causing an infection, with 86 different types of bacteria identified.
The most commonly found bacteria was Enterobacteriaceae which includes both E.coli and Salmonella and accounted for 41% of the bacteria that was found.
Even more worrying was the fact that 53% of the strains were resistant to at least one type of antibiotic and 19% were multi-antibiotic resistant.
The researchers did make it clear that hospitals are actually extremely clean environments where insects of all types are generally very well managed. However, these findings do highlight the importance of bug control as part of hospitals’ strategies to prevent the spread of infection.
This month we have introduced a fantastic NEW product to our range.
The Chicopee® Microfibre Light Cloth is chemical-free and provides superior cleaning for medical environments whilst reducing the risk of cross contamination.
LOOK OUT for our FANTASTIC SUMMER SALE.
Launching in August we will be offering a great selection of our high quality medical products at truly unbeatable prices. Keep an eye on our website and social media for more information.