Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley is the new name for the Oxford Academic Health Science Network (Oxford AHSN).

NHS England established AHSNs in 2013. They have just been commissioned for a further five years to 2028, and are now known as Health Innovation Networks (HINs).

This new name better reflects their role as ‘the innovation arm of the NHS’. HINs are licensed by the NHS and the Office for Life Sciences.

What do HINs do?

HINs work locally, regionally, and nationally. They help to promote the adoption of evidence-based innovations that lead to better outcomes for people, the NHS and the economy. England is covered by 15 HINs.

Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley brings together the NHS, universities and life science companies. It discovers, develops and deploys healthcare innovations in response to the needs of patients and populations.

Its region covers around three million people living in Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, West Berkshire and parts of Surrey.

The Oxford HIN’s clinical priorities include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Mental health
  • Respiratory disease
  • Maternity and neonatal care.

Below are some short examples of recent work that has directly benefited Buckinghamshire residents.

Enhanced brain scanning and improved stroke treatment

Artificial intelligence is now helping clinicians at Wycombe and Stoke Mandeville hospitals to deliver quicker and safer care to stroke patients.

Brainomix, a spin-out from the University of Oxford, has developed technology which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically process scans, connect physicians and facilitate information transfer.

The software supports physicians in identifying patients who would benefit from acute stroke treatments. It selects patients most likely to benefit from specific interventions, such as mechanical thrombectomies. This procedure removes blood clots from large blood vessels in the brain to prevent strokes or further strokes.

User testing for automated follow-up calls

Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley is working with Ufonia, an innovative digital health company, and NHS Trusts including Buckinghamshire, to pilot the use of Dora – an automated telemedicine system.

The system is initially being used for follow-up telephone calls with patients who have had cataract surgery – the most common operation in the NHS, with 400,000 procedures taking place every year. Dora is a like-for-like replacement for a follow-up call from a doctor or nurse, providing a reliable, consistent check.

By digitally capturing conversations with patients, detailed data can be made available so that clinicians can review outcomes following surgery. Multiple calls can be scheduled to track patients’ progress and intercept problems.

Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley has supported Ufonia by exploring its use in clinical practice and considering barriers to its adoption. The organisation has also explored patients’ experiences – engagement work that has involved patient voices from across Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes.

Training for care home staff to spot early signs of deterioration

More than 500 care home staff from across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, and Milton Keynes have completed a RESTORE2 (Recognise Early Soft-signs, Take Observations, Respond, Escalate) training programme run by Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley.

RESTORE2 is a tool designed to help care home staff to spot early signs of deterioration. It supports care home staff when their intuition tells them a resident is not well, enabling them to spot early indicators of physical deterioration so patients get the extra care they need.

Helping more patients get IV treatment at home instead of hospital

Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley is helping Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust to trial at-home use of intravenous (IV) antibiotics. Specialised pumps allow patients to administer their medicine at home with support from the local district nursing team.

This is easing pressure on hospital beds and improving patient experience by enabling safe delivery of IV medication outside the hospital environment.

Find out more

These are just a few of the recent innovations in local health care supported by Health Innovation Oxford & Thames Valley.

To find out more and follow the journey of these innovations, visit www.healthinnovationoxford.org.

Published on 25 Oct, 2023 (updated 9 Jan, 2024)

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