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Heart patients to benefit from innovative software

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Up to 35,000 patients a year undergo invasive diagnostic tests which could be prevented with this new technology

Heart patients are among those who might benefit from a scheme introducing four innovations in healthcare, including software which creates 3D images of the heart.

In the NHS, up to 35,000 patients a year undergo invasive diagnostic tests which could be prevented with this new technology.

‘If a person is suspected of having coronary heart disease, they may undergo a coronary angiography to see if vessels are blocked. Although a vital procedure, it is invasive and can lead to the patient feeling anxious or stressed. HeartFlow software can be used to look at blood vessels and blood flow without the need for invasive tests,’ said Phillippa Hobson, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation.

‘This innovative technology will be far less stressful for patients, but most importantly will lead to much faster diagnosis and treatment for those who need it.’

HeartFlow, the heart imaging software, creates 3D images of the heart and coronary arteries and it can also analyse blockages and blood flow to diagnose those with suspected coronary artery disease.

‘These technologies will improve patient safety and potentially reduce the need for invasive and expensive tests,’ said Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England.

HeartFlow is one of four technologies being fast-tracked. The others include: Plus Sutures – a new surgical suture that reduces infections, such as MRSA; Endocuff Vision – a ‘bowel scope’ to improve colorectal examination for bowel cancer patients (the fourth most common cancer in England); and SecurAcath – a device to secure catheters and reduce the risk of infection.

NHS England also announced a nationally backed trial to cut missed hospital appointments, DrDocter, as well as a further £1.5 million to increase the spread of innovations.

Almost eight million hospital appointments were missed in 2016/2017 according to NHS digital, which accounts to almost £1 billion. DrDoctor is a digital tool that allows patients to reschedule appointments if they need to in an effort to tackle this problem.

‘For new innovations to flourish and spread at scale access to funding is critical, by buying these four innovations centrally NHS England has removed the barriers to the spread of these innovations so patients can benefit faster,’ said Tony Young, national clinical lead for innovation in NHS England.

‘This is just one way in which the NHS is supporting innovation as we celebrate the NHS’ 70th birthday, later this year we will be announcing the next round of doctors, nurses and allied health professionals joining the growing numbers of entrepreneurs developing new and innovative treatments for patients from within the NHS.’

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