European AI-on-demand platform underway, online 'calculator' to predict risk of cancer, and more EU digital health news

Also: Largest Scottish NHS organisation implements Orion Health system, and Boots UK buys health tech company Wiggly-Amps.
By Leontina Postelnicu
09:03 AM

New project looks to create European AI-on-demand platform. A new AI4EU project aims to support the development of the “first European on-demand AI platform” with a €20m budget over the next three years.

French company Thales is coordinating the roll-out, with a view to expand membership of the project, which is currently bringing together 79 organisations from 21 countries. According to Thales, this will include the creation of a Europe-wide ethics observatory to drive discussions and development of “explainable, verifiable AI”. 

Partners will reportedly make AI tools, algorithms and use cases available on the platform, providing help to SMEs, start-ups, entrepreneurs, venture capital firms and others, as the European Commission unveiled the plan to launch the initiative in an AI strategy released in April last year. 

“We are very proud that the European Commission has placed its confidence in Thales to coordinate the AI4EU project, which will help Europe to build recognition as a player in the global race to develop the best digital technologies and AI in service of society,” said Thales Chief Technology Officer Marko Erman.

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Scottish NHS board rolls out Orion Health Medicines. NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the largest NHS organisation in Scotland, has implemented Orion Health Medicines at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow,  and is now using it across 11 hospital sites, aggregating data from multiple IT systems to provide a list of medicines patients are prescribed across care settings.

“Because Orion Health Medicines captures the medications the patient had at admission, and the medications they have at discharge, the system can automatically highlight to the GP what has changed. Previously, stopped medication might be omitted from the discharge letter, meaning it wasn’t clear to the GP whether this medication had been deliberately stopped.

“The GP might phone the hospital to seek clarification, which took time for both the GP practice and the hospital staff. With the Orion Health system, the immediate discharge letter clearly states that a medication has been stopped, including the reason for this,” said Alaistar Bishop, Programme Lead at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, one of Scotland’s 14 regional NHS Boards.

The system was reportedly piloted at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre in November last year and Inverclyde Royal Hospital in January.

Researchers create online calculator to predict risk of breast cancer. According to a study by Cancer Research UK, published in Genetics in Medicine, researchers have developed an online calculator to predict risk of breast cancer by combining information on family history and genetics with weight, alcohol consumption and other factors. They have taken into account 300 genetic indicators for breast cancer.

Some GPs are reportedly testing the tool, and researchers say it could in the future help tailor breast cancer screening according to a person’s risk, and help them make decisions regarding preventative therapy.

University of Cambridge Professor Antonis Antoniou, lead author of the study, said: “This is the first time that anyone has combined so many elements into one breast cancer prediction tool. It could be a game changer for breast cancer because now we can identify large numbers of women with different levels of risk – not just women who are at high risk.

“This should help doctors to tailor the care they provide depending on their patients’ level of risk. For example, some women may need additional appointments with their doctor to discuss screening or prevention options and others may just need advice on their lifestyle and diet.

“We hope this means more people can be diagnosed early and survive their disease for longer, but more research and trials are needed before we will fully understand how this could be used.”

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Boots UK buys health tech company Wiggly-Amps. Boots, the largest pharmacy health and beauty chain in the UK, has acquired Norfolk-based health tech company Wiggly-Amps. The company has created a digital solution to enable patients and their GPs to better manage prescription requirements, which Boots UK intends to use to strengthen its digital offerings. “It’s an exciting time for the future of pharmacy and today’s announcement is just one of the ways we are strengthening the development of our digital healthcare ambitions,” said Richard Bradley, Boots UK Pharmacy Director.

Wiggly Amps has developed hardware and software solutions for healthcare, and its existing team will now operate as a separate entity to Boots UK under a new name, Engage Health Systems.Their Engage Touch patient check-in touch screens, Engage Consult online consultation platform, Engage Web GP websites, DORIS and Encompass will be delivered through this company, while their panic alarm system will be delivered through Little Green Button, also operating as a separate entity.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Yesterday, the Walgreens Boots Aliance also announced a new partnership with Microsoft for a cloud-based consumer health initiative.