Medipex NHS Innovation Awards 2021

On 22nd September 2021, Medipex held their 14th NHS Innovation Awards, but things were a little different this year.

The event was moved online for the very first time, which removed any limitations on numbers and allowed registrations from delegates all over the country and all sectors. The programme saw keynote speeches from Phillipa Hedley-Takhar (NIHR Devices for Dignity Medtech Co-operative) on the importance of user engagement and from Taz Aldawoud (Doc Abode) on his successful innovation journey from GP to deployment of a digital solution to meet an unmet need.

Various key partners of Medipex hosted break-out rooms where delegates could engage directly with innovation support organisations; Medovate Ltd, ran a session on how to develop medical technologies for a worldwide market, the Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network (YHAHSN) provided advice on how to enhance adoption and spread of innovative ideas and Innovate UK EDGE detailed the bespoke support that they could offer to innovative small and medium sized enterprises that are looking to grow. Some key themes to come out of the event were collaboration, seeking expert support, thinking about users, demonstration of value proposition and impact.

The main purpose of the event was to celebrate our NHS colleagues that have gone over and above, this year more than ever, to find ways to improve patient care. Entries were submitted into 4 categories and judges from Medipex, Medovate and the YHAHSN had the very difficult task of short listing the finalists, and choosing a winner, in each category. All of the judges would like to commend the excellent standard of entries and Medipex are delighted to be able to follow up on a number of new projects that were submitted to the competition.

Thank you to all who entered their innovation, well done to all the finalists and huge congratulations to all of our winners.

Management of long-term conditions

Innovations relating to the better management of long term conditions (including Long Covid) to improve services and patient outcomes e.g. tools to facilitate better self-management or services that improve long-term condition outcomes.

Category winner

Design and implementation of the Leeds long covid community rehabilitation service

Jennifer Davison and Rachel Tarrant on behalf of The Leeds Long COVID Community Rehabilitation Service based at Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust. In partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospitals, Leeds GP Confederation, Leeds CCG and University of Leeds

This project was initiated following recognition of the rehabilitation needs of people recovering from COVID-19. Ignoring organisational barriers; a cross city multi-organisation team; researched, created and developed a unique, integrated rehabilitation pathway focussed on and responsive to patients’ needs. The clinical team provide specialist, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, assessment and intervention with support from an in-house research team. Strong multi-disciplinary leadership ensures that the service remains at the national and international cutting edge of the evolving story of Long-Covid, shaping national guidance and international policy.

Twitter: @LCHNHSTrust, @UniversityLeeds, @LeedsHospitals, @LTHTResearch, @LTHTInnovation

Category winner

The world’s first validated digital assessment, triage, management, and monitoring system for Long COVID

Dr Manoj Sivan from Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in conjunction with Paul O’Brien from Elaros Ltd. and colleagues from Leeds Community Healthcare Trust and University of Leeds

This project was concerned with developing the world’s first validated digital assessment, triage, management, and monitoring system for Long Covid, called The C19-YRS (Covid-19 Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale). The system was completed in June 2021 and, at the time of submission of this competition entry, was already being used by 27 NHS hospitals and a research version has also been developed.  A consortium led by UOLeeds have now managed to secure a £3.4 Million NIHR grant to help devise innovative ways of supporting the nearly 2 million long Covid patients in the UK.

Twitter: @LTHTInnovation, @LTHTResearch, @LCHResearch, @LCHNHSTrust, @elaros, @UniversityLeeds, @leedshospitals


Moving on Asthma: an educational transition tool for adolescents

Dr Nicki Barker and colleagues at Sheffield Children’s Hospital in conjunction with Make Better Studio and NIHR Children and Young People Medtech Co-operative

This innovation sought to develop IT based educational material for adolescents with asthma who are moving to adult services using an established transition programme as a framework. A national review into Asthma Deaths found potentially avoidable factors related to patients and their families in 65% of deaths, including inadequate information, education and advice on managing asthma. Educational interventions are known to improve asthma control so the team have developed a series of videos covering all aspects of asthma knowledge and emphasise the development of essential self-management skills building on the experiences of past patients with the aim of improving quality of life and reducing the burden on health services.

Twitter: @SheffChildrens, @NickiPhysio, @NIHRCypMedTech, @NIHRresearch


Developing a case-finding tool to reduce anticholinergic burden in frail patients

David Mehdizadeh from Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and colleagues at the Bradford Institute for Health Research and the NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centre.

This innovation addresses a problem when people, particularly older people, are exposed to multiple medicines which, whilst often necessary, can be associated with adverse outcomes particularly for the frail. One such area of concern is the accumulation of medicines that block the neurotransmitter acetylcholine known as the anticholinergic burden (ACB). This is linked with increased risk of hospitalisation, falls, cognitive impairment, and death.  However, there is a deficiency of tools integrated into clinical IT systems to facilitate the identification of ACB. The team have developed a prototype tool known as AC-FRAIL to screen practice populations, case-finding the most at-risk patients exposed to high levels of ACB, stratified by frailty status. This can help clinicians with prioritisation of patients for Structured Medical Reviews, and mitigate risks through de-prescribing.

Twitter: @BTHFT, @DM_Zadeh, @YH_PSTRC

Preventing or reducing hospital attendance

Innovations designed to reduce pressures on hospital services e.g. prevention of conditions that would normally require hospital treatment or innovative ways to deliver a service outside of the hospital setting.

Category winner

Novel use of an existing online tool to support burn injury self-management

Matthew Stone and colleagues at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

This innovation was conceived after it was recognised that many patients that have small, simple burns may be able to be managed remotely whilst still benefitting from specialist input. Some such patients may be travelling as far away as 80 miles. An existing online referral system was repurposed and patients were provided with  unique QR code to securely and directly upload photographs of their injuries and instructions on how to change their own dressings. This allows greater flexibility and saves travel time and costs for patients. Nursing staff reported that this provided them with more time to deal with patients with larger or more complex injuries.

Twitter: @MidYorkshireNHS


Day case stereotactic radiosurgery: Home in a fraction of the time

Esther Buckland and colleagues, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

THis entry set out to tackle the issue that the treatment of Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM) with stereotactic radiosurgery has historically required a 1 to 2 night hospital stay.  Driven by the pandemic, the service sought to reduce the dependency on hospital beds and the impact on hospital services whilst maintaining high levels of patient care. The service has successfully increased the number of AVM day cases by over 35% and more work is ongoing to enable better identification of patients that may be able to follow a day case pathway in the future, potentially further increasing this impact.

Twitter: @SheffieldHosp


Virtual reality home rehabilitation to upper limb motor impairment in children

Paul Dimitri and colleagues, Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust in conjunction with Ivan Phelan and colleagues, Sheffield Hallam University and the Children and Young People MedTech Co-operative

THis project was designed to tackle the problem that Children with Upper Limb Motor Impairment often struggle to engage with painful and repetitive therapeutic physiotherapy sessions following trauma, burns or operations. This team have developed an Immersive Virtual Reality system to treat such children using immersive games to simulate exercise. Two feasibility trials have demonstrated that immersive VR rehabilitation engages children to do their exercises with significantly less pain, more motivation and enjoyment in both the clinic and at home. Children, who have previously refused to engage with rehabilitation, now use this system and report minimal pain.

Twitter: @SheffChildrens, @sheffhallamuni, @NIHRCypMedTech

Delivering benefits through diagnosis and screening

Innovations designed to improve the detection and diagnosis of health conditions or disease e.g. increasing attendance, less invasive/faster/more accurate methods, treatment stratification.

Category winner

One-stop screening service: a model for high-uptake diabetes health-check and early detection of the at risk diabetic foot

Solomon Tesfaye from Sheffield teaching hospitals NHS foundation Trust in conjunction with colleagues at the University of Sheffield and Sheffield CCG

This innovation was designed to increase patient compliance with the health checks recommended by NICE for diabetic patients, particularly in relation to foot screening which has the potential to reduce the number of amputations carried out every year. NICE recommends 9 annual health checks for diabetic patients but whilst eye screening has a high uptake only around half of patients have all the other health checks. A novel, one-stop screening service in hospital and community settings was initiated, whereby people with diabetes attending the annual eye-screening, also underwent foot assessment by a podiatrist leading to early referral to the foot protection team. This one-stop service demonstrated 90% uptake, 91% patient acceptability.

Twitter: @SheffieldHosp, @sheffielduni, @NHSSheffieldccg


AspiRate – acoustic assessment of swallow safety

Professor Sue Pownall from Sheffield Teaching hospitals NHS foundation Trust in conjunction with colleagues from University of Cambridge, Devices for Dignity, Cambridge University Hospital Trust.

This project entitled was conceived following the recognition of the clinical need for a non-invasive, objective diagnostic device to detect silent aspiration (where food/drink passes into the lungs instead of the stomach) in patients with dysphagia. A novel prototype device was able to acoustically differentiate between where there was aspiration and where there was not in a cohort of patients.

Twitter: @SheffieldHosp, @Devices4Dignity, @pownall_sue, @LiseSproson


Sepsis improvement programme

John Hodson and colleagues from the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS trust

This programme is aimed at increasing the rate of inpatient sepsis screening to identify potential sepsis cases earlier and it is hoped that this will translate to a reduced mortality rate. The programme is aimed at increasing staff’s knowledge around sepsis and developing human factors that focus on the awareness of individual responsibility for the escalation of patients with potential Sepsis. If successful this will enhance the quality of care, and the patient and family experience within the trust.

Twitter: @MidYorkshireNHS

Improved treatments and pathways

Innovations that are designed to improve the outcomes for patients and/or service delivery organisations e.g. better experience/care, improvements to quality of life, extension of life-span, improved process/pathway efficiencies.

Category winner

New therapy for post-stroke arm spasticity: Sheffield Adaptive Patterned Electrical Stimulation (SHAPES)

Jamie Healey and team, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, with collaborators from Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, University of Sheffield, Devices for Dignity and Coventry University

This project aims to support stroke survivors of whom around a third will develop uncontrollable muscle stiffness, which is painful and disabling.  This team have developed a wearable, non-invasive therapy that works using electrical pulse stimulation, which has shown promise in two small clinical trials. A randomised controlled trial is imminent to demonstrate the effectiveness of the device over and above alternative treatments.

Twitter: @SheffieldHosp, @Devices4Dignity, @sheffielduni, @NIHRresearch, @barnshospital


The COMFORT project for children requiring non-invasive ventilation

Heather Elphick and colleagues, Sheffield Children’s NHS FT together with collaborators from Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals and Devices for Dignity

This entry was designed to tackle the problem that well-fitting masks are difficult to find for children; inadequate ventilation can have significant impacts on health and quality of life. The project uses 3D scanning and printing technology to improve comfort, fit and performance of NIV masks for children. Use of this technology was shown to improve oxygen levels and sleep quality.

Twitter: @SheffChildrens, @SheffieldHosp, @Devices4Dignity, @sheffielduni, @sheffhallamuni, @NIHRresearch


Barnsley Children’s speech and language therapy YouTube channel

Emily Dodd with colleagues Jordan Clarke and Nicola Maddy from South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS FT

This channel was set up and launched at the beginning of the Covid19 pandemic to tackle the problem of having to move from face-to-face to a telehealth service overnight. This has successfully supported children, young people, and families as well as therapists, teachers and other professionals. The channel includes videos on interventions, therapy approaches, communication strategies and training as well as stories from young people talking about what supports them to communicate well. This is now being accessed and used by both local and national services.

Twitter: @allofusinmind, @BarnsleySCH