Sunday, May 16

Roundup: Cough monitoring app launches, opening of robotics research company and more briefs


Construction has started on a research facility for robotics and AI, based at Heriot-Watt University’s Edinburgh campus, the National Robotarium.

The facility is supported by a £21 million funding from the UK government, and £1.4 million from the Scottish Government as part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal.

Expected to open in spring 2022, the National Robotarium will create innovative solutions to global challenges using research, product design and industry collaboration. The project will bring together academics and global companies to provide a catalyst for entrepreneurship and is expected to deliver sustainable economic benefit to Edinburgh and the UK.


Swedish medical app, Livi has partnered with UK-based independent healthcare provider, BMI healthcare to enable access to private healthcare more efficiently.

Given the increase in face-to-face patient appointments during the winter season, the partnership will help to reduce the current pressures on NHS surgeries during COVID-19.

The platform will be able to manage non-critical face-to-face appointments that can be diagnosed via video consultations. Patients will be able to speak to a GMC-certified Livi GP to arrange a referral to see a specialist consultant.

The partnership will provide greater access to UK patients as they leverage Livi’s digital platform to access GPs at Livi and BMI Healthcare’s specialist consultant network.


A UK media platform dedicated to maternal mental health and wellbeing has launched in light of research showing that new mum’s mental health has suffered during the lockdown.  

Motherdom has been created by mum-of-two and journalist Anna Ceesay, who went through low mood and anxiety during her second pregnancy and realised there wasn’t enough media coverage of maternal mental health issues.

A UK-wide Journal of Psychiatric Research study examined the psychological of over 600 women with babies between birth and 12 weeks old during the first lockdown. The researchers found that 43% of the women met the criteria for clinically relevant depression, and 61% met the criteria for anxiety. The usual rates of depression and anxiety after birth in the UK are around 15%. 


Hyfe, a new app that tracks users’ coughing habits is now available in Germany, the UK and Ireland for people to download on both Android and iOS devices.

Using acoustic AI algorithms to analyse users’ coughs, the app uses individual markers including volume and regularity to enable people to identify underlying illnesses and detect anomalies. These markers can be used as an early-warning system for conditions such as COVID-19 and lung cancer.

Hyfe co-founder Lulian Circo, explained: “Coughing is a universal human behavior that can reveal a huge amount about a person’s wellbeing. Despite this, coughing is commonly overlooked, and Hyfe hopes to change that. We believe that each cough represents an important biomarker for a range of conditions, but until now coughing has rarely been understood or analysed at scale. Our neural network can help users identify changes in their health in real-time. Our goal is to allow anyone with a smartphone to receive instant, accurate diagnostic support, whether they are an asthma sufferer in Berlin or a mother of an ill child in rural Africa.”


UK digital healthcare company, Push Doctor and healthcare staffing specialists, Patchwork Health are launching a national partnership to help primary care services manage capacity challenges created by COVID-19 and the vaccination roll-out.

GP practices and Primary Care Networks (PCNs) who are using Patchwork’s flexible temporary staff pools to fill short-term vacancies, can now broadcast vacant virtual consultation shifts to digital locum clinicians through the Push Doctor network. 

As a result, when the demand for in-person or virtual consultations exceeds the capacity of available staff, rota gaps can be filled, and patient care can be delivered flexibly to those higher on the priority list.


NHS digital chief executive, Sarah Wilkinson has been named the most influential person in UK IT in 2021 by Computer Weekly’s UKtech50.

Joining NHS digital as chief executive in 2017, Wilkinson manages digital transformation strategies in health and social care and data collection.

Wilkinson has also led a team on a large programme of data work throughout the pandemic, facilitating access to accurate data and overseeing projects with deep data analysis and expertise.

In November 2020, Wilkinson oversaw the public sector data network transition programme, moving NHS and social care sites from a legacy data network to an updated version which is expected to save £75 million a year.


Mental healthcare provider, the Priory Group has collaborated with mental health app, My Possible Self to make mental health support more accessible.

The partnership combines My Possible Self’s technology with the Priory Group’s clinically recognised content to deliver a holistic approach to mental health and help users manage anxiety, depression, reduce stress and improve sleep.

My Possible Self is listed on the NHS Apps Library and offers interactive tools, visual and mental exercises and activities based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and customised for digital use.


UK health and beauty retailer, Superdrug’s Online Doctor and medtech enterprise TestCard have announced the launch of a UTI ‘test and treat’ partnership. 

The non-invasive kits allow UTI patients to test and treat their condition at home, without the need to visit a doctor or pharmacist. 

TestCard’s technology turns a smartphone camera into a clinical grade scanner, and claims to be just as reliable as the professional dipstick reading services used in hospitals and GP surgeries. Test results are shown in the app indicating result readings of either “negative”, “possible UTI”, or “high possibility of a UTI”.

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