UK: NHS Digital runs wireless tech trials to improve health and care services

NHS Digital – the national provider of information, data and IT systems for commissioners, analysts and clinicians in health and social care in England – is running a series of trials to explore how cutting-edge wireless technologies can support the delivery of better patient care.   

The Wireless Centre of Excellence trials are open for applications and allow NHS organisations to apply for funding for wireless and innovative technology that helps improve connectivity in health and care settings.


Petra Wilson, HIMSS senior advisor, European health policy & EU affairs, said: “The use of more mobile technology to promote care provision where and when patients need it, to reduce backlogs and speed up access to care is a sorely needed in the NHS. In promoting such technologies, the NHS will also have the opportunity to lead innovation that could be exported to other healthcare systems and ensure that new health technologies continue to play a strong role in British exports.”

However she added that if such exports were to go to the EU it would be important to ensure that Data Protection and Digital Information Bill released on 18th July allows the UK to maintain its GDPR equivalence rating.

“UK minister for media, data and digital infrastructure, Matt Warman, has claimed that these reforms ‘are compatible with maintaining a free flow of personal data from the European Economic Area’ – maintaining this compatibility is an absolute must if as a nation the UK is to make the most of the wireless technology to improve patient care both within and outside traditional healthcare settings,” Wilson said.


Previous NHS Digital wireless trials include University College London Hospitals’ Find and Treat service, which uses high-tech tools and software to provide real-time remote diagnosis and referrals on board a mobile health unit.

Another wireless trial, funded by NHS Digital, has led to South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust becoming the first 5G-connected hospital in the UK. Through the trial, clinicians have access to digital innovation such as the eObservations (eObs) app, which enables the use of handheld devices to update patient records digitally and make live observations.  


Patrick Clark, NHS Digital director of infrastructure services, said: “Wireless technologies will continue to play an increasingly important role as the NHS looks to implement new models of care to allow patients to receive treatment at home or in mobile health settings. They will also help provide clinicians with access to data and digital systems wherever they need it. We are already seeing many of the benefits of cutting-edge wireless technology and innovation – from enabling real-time remote diagnosis in a mobile health unit to supporting live observations in the first 5G hospital in the UK.    

“These projects are a step-forward in digital transformation and will bring an array of benefits, particularly for those least able to access healthcare and for digitally isolated hospitals and health centres.”


Care planning solution: Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Elsevier have announced a three-year partnership which will see Elsevier’s Care Planning solution integrated within the trust’s electronic health record (EHR). The solution will allow digital nursing care plans to be deployed at scale, enable greater visibility of nursing activity and help facilitate better reporting of acuity information, quality metrics, and other ward assurance data.  

Medical devices regulation: Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has published plans to strengthen the regulation of medical devices to improve patient safety and encourage innovation. The package of reforms will apply to new technologies such as smartphone apps and artificial intelligence (AI), as well as traditional medical devices.

Online therapy service: Digital therapeutics startup HelloSelf has partnered with Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust to refer patients to its therapy and coaching platform. Further partnerships between HelloSelf and other NHS trusts are expected to be announced shortly.

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