Progress is still slow, sadly, in setting up our Spring schedule. We have now definitely got one Wednesday Webinar on the important topic of how to choose the right telehealth and telecare intervention using the DLF’s AskSara. This is so important both for providers, to ensure good publicity for their products and services, and for practitioners, to know what is available. It’s on 24th February starting at 9.45am to 11.15am. You can book here.

Others in the hopper to try to finalise include the MHRA presenting on the UKCA, and the DTAC (see also next item). I have now formally extended an invitation to Connected Nottinghamshire too.

ORCHA’s annual app review

ORCHA has just published their analysis of digital health usage from January 2020 to January 2021 entitled “Digital Health Trends & Opportunities for 2021“, which gives a great summary of how app usage has been transformed by Covid-19. Two diagrams are particularly interesting: the first on page 3 is a “heat map” of how interest in specific areas grew over the year. Unsurprisingly the areas of greatest interest are those like sleep, diabetes, mental health and weight loss, though it is interesting to see how areas for example like physio which until relatively recently didn’t look to be on the digital health radar have become very popular, in that case because physical physio has been almost impossible of late.

The other diagram, on page 6, shows the Most Favourited, the Most Recommended, and the Most Downloaded apps in the year. What is especially striking is that the top app in two of the categories, Wysa, and the top of the other, Smoke Free, are not on the NHS App Library, which just goes to show how the prolonged gestation of DTAC, and the related transfer of responsibility that has halted App Library-related activities for virtually all of 2020, is impacting the NHS.

Covid-19 Dashboard

As DHACA is not a wealthy organisation, I try to earn a few crusts from assisting others – an organisation in the US I am in regular touch with, Humetrix (the company that also produces the app SOS QR, now with many Covid features), has developed a brilliant geographical dashboard for showing the levels of Covid-19 infection, hospitalisation, death, and individuals at risk for severe infection by postcode for the whole of the United States that I have just been given permission to tell you about as I am very impressed by it. The dashboard is now being used for Covid-19 vaccine monitoring. In the US it only covers Medicare people, as there is no central registry of health data for the rest of the population. That should not be a problem in Europe though if anyone chooses to adopt it here.

As they have access to individual Medicare records, they have also been able to correlate probability of severe infection, of hospitalisation and of death with a wide range of geographical, personal and medical factors . This access combined with the learning from the correlations then enables them to apply statistical and AI analyses to calculate the differential risk of severe Covid-19 disease by individual and geographical area (by postal code). They then apply that going forwards to assess the efficacy of the vaccination program on local medical services across the US, particularly in reducing healthcare service overload. I would add that HIPAA-compliant data privacy is maintained throughout.

The dashboard, and a summary of findings from it has recently been posted on a pre-print server MedRxiv pre-print and published in JAMA. Humetrix has a demo of the system here, which you are welcome to download and also to disseminate. Beware that of necessity it is very big, at a little over 600MB, so it does take time to download. Definitely worth the effort though. I understand that since then Humetrix has added a vaccination overlay so that they can monitor the success of the program, and any reported side-effects, and again seek out relevant correlations.

Wanted – Trustees

I recently posted a request here for applications for a new CEO for the charity I chair, Citizens Online – I’m delighted to say that we have now appointed Jenny Haskey who used to work for the North West Air Ambulance and other charities so I’m coming back, this time in search of one or more Trustees to strengthen our Board. Above all we’re looking for people passionate about improving digital inclusion. Experience of improving digital access to health and care services would be a particular bonus, as would senior managerial experience. Please reply to this newsletter if you are interested or call me on 07860 619424.

And finally…

As always, huge thanks to Prof Mike Short for pointing me to items I might otherwise have missed.

Kind regards,