UK.gov asks biz for ideas on how to 'overcome' data privacy concerns in NHS

£9m up for grabs in latest digital health tech funding call

NHS hosptial photo, by Marbury via Shutterstock

UK firms are being asked to pitch digital solutions to "overcome privacy challenges" related to the increasing use of data in the health sector as part of a £9m competition to boost the NHS's use of technology.

The cash is for firms that want to do collaborative or early stage development work on digital tools or solutions that can be used to improve healthcare provision or clinical decision-making, along with the more meta challenge of dealing with the problems increasing use of tech brings with it.

Digital is something of a buzzphrase for the health sector at the moment, as the newly minted health secretary Matt Hancock has been waxing lyrical about the state of the NHS’ systems and the opportunities technology offers the health service.

This latest competition is for a further chunk of the UK’s £181m Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and is open to firms who want to launch a feasibility study or collaborative R&D projects.

In the blurb, the government makes a few suggestions that might be considered. For instance, how about a technology that supports “patient-led management” – which probably loosely translates to “apps”.

Another idea is a way to “overcome privacy challenges” associated with the government’s continued urge to share and exploit (and cash in on) the data the NHS holds.

And unsurprisingly, given these repeated proclamations about data being the future, it features prominently in the technologies listed as potential funding targets.

That includes artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics and (promisingly) security.

Other ideas – or, rather, words the government’s PR machine has heard bandied about a lot – include virtual and augmented reality and the Internet of Things.

For the feasibility studies, projects can apply for between £50,000 and £75,000 from a total pot of £1m, and can last for up to a year. The deadline is midday on 31 October.

For collaborative projects, there is a total of £8m up for grabs, with each project able to bid for between £300,000 and £1m. The deadline is the same, with interviews to be scheduled in early January.

The winners from a previous round, who shared £17m in funding, were announced at the end of last week. Projects included a GPS app to track where there are available beds in hospitals, using AI to link operating theatre schedules with bed availability on other wards, and 3D printing for tablets. ®




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