NHSX and MHCLG have announced 18 digital solutions that have been awarded funding under the TechForce19 challenge. TechForce19 has awarded up to £25,000 each to innovation that offers a digital way to support vulnerable people who need to stay at home or need other help in the community for extended periods of time. The response to the challenge was extremely strong, with over 1,600 innovations submitted.

Last month, NHSX – the agency within the Department of Health and Social Care tasked with driving the digital transformation of care – launched TechForce19 – in partnership with PUBLIC, the AHSN Network and the ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

The challenge called on all innovators who could support the elderly, vulnerable and self-isolating during COVID-19 to apply for government funding of up to £25,000 to test their solutions.

Between 23 March and 3 April, the challenge received over 1600 applications, and we’ve been working round the clock to narrow this list down to a final group of companies for testing.

The Challenge

Defined around supporting the vulnerable or isolating during COVID-19, the challenge was broken down into three themes, with companies asked to identify which theme their solution sought to address. These were:

Remote Social Care

  • Finding healthy and qualified carers who can provide support for those in need
  • Managing and delivering care in care homes
  • Delivering domiciliary care and technology in the home

Optimising Staffing in Care and Volunteering Sectors

  • Recruiting, training and certifying of doctors and nurses and professional carers
  • Volunteering – recruiting and triaging volunteers into clinical and non-clinical workers
  • Projecting demand for health and care workers across the country to improve deployment and management of resources
  • Tackling data gaps in the care sector to understand the financial sustainability and needs of care businesses

Mental Health

  • Discovering and delivering mental health services
  • Accessing relevant and inclusive peer 2 peer communities
  • Supporting self-management of mental health and well-being
  • Facilitating employee well-being

Today (24 April) we announced the 18 solutions selected as part of the TechForce19 challenge – check them out below. We’ll be updating on the progress of the companies as testing progresses, and will be exploring the solutions in more depth in future posts.

1.    Feebris – for the most vulnerable who are isolating

Feebris helps carers to identify health risks and deterioration within elderly communities. The Feebris app guides a carer through a 10min check-up, including capture of vital signs from connected medical-grade sensors (digital stethoscope, pulse oximeter etc.). Powerful AI augments clinical guidelines and personalised monitoring to help decisions on triaging health issues. The intention is to provide Feebris to care homes to help carers triage the day-to-day health needs of their residents during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also enhance the capabilities of remote clinicians. 

2.    Chanua / Neurolove – to support young people with mental health

Chanua provides Neurolove.org, a platform providing a friendly ear and human support for young people to help them to keep virtually social and safe online. Supporting young people to manage anxiety and low mood, they can book sessions directly with mentors and therapists and find content that will support them to manage their emotional and mental health in this current period of uncertainty.

3.    Peppy – for new parents

Peppy helps parents-to-be and new parents remotely access trusted, convenient advice from perinatal and mental health experts. This includes remote support via phone/video with lactation consultants, baby sleep consultants, specialist mental health support and more. Peppy provides timely interventions that reduce stress, anxiety and burn out for parents-to-be and new parents.

4.    Team Kinetic – for volunteers

TeamKinetic’s digital platform helps organisations better manage community-led volunteer programmes. The solution helps manage recruitment and retention of volunteers, as well as monitoring the impact of these programmes in real time. TeamKinetic are also looking at developing and documenting some open standards and establishing a model for better service interconnectivity across the voluntary sector.

5.    Vinehealth – for cancer patients

Vinehealth is a mobile app to support cancer patients and their loved ones during treatment by allowing them to easily track and understand their care, including their symptoms, side effects, appointments and medications. By completing a 1-minute daily log, cancer patients can develop a clear overview of their progress through treatment and access advice on how to cope and when to access health services. The Vinehealth app empowers cancer patients who are self-isolating to self-manage and feel more in control.

6.    Beam – for homeless population

Beam is a digital platform that supports the homeless and vulnerable. Beam takes referrals from local authorities and homeless charities, then ensures goods are funded, delivered and documented. 

7.    Alcuris Ltd

Alcuris’ Memohub® prolongs the independence of elderly or vulnerable people, enabling them to return to home quicker, from hospital discharge. A digital platform collates data from unobtrusive sensors placed in the home, then provides actionable alerts when behaviour changes, enabling families to intervene early to delay or reduce the frequency of professional ‘crisis intervention’ help. This gives family a reassurance of loved one’s safety and wellbeing even when left alone for extended periods. Also provides objective information to inform professional care planning.

8.    Ampersand

Ampersand Health‘s self-management apps help people with long term, immune mediated diseases (such as Crohn’s and Colitis) live happier and healthier lives. Using behavioural and data science, the apps deliver courses and programmes designed to improve sleep quality, stress management and medication adherence; with modules for activity, diet and relationships in the works. During the Covid-19 crisis, this will help these people better manage their conditions and reduce the need for clinical support. Ampersand are also offering their clinical management portal free of charge to NHS Trusts until January 2021, no strings attached. This will allow clinical teams to help manage their patients, remotely.

9.    Aparito

Aparito uses remote monitoring technology (videos, wearables, photos and text) to gather patient-generated data outside of hospital. This is focused on patients with rare diseases. Data is captured and transferred via the patient’s own smartphone / tablet and made available to clinicians or researchers in real-time to help avoid direct contact during the Covid-19 crisis.

10.  Birdie

Birdie provides a digital platform for home care agencies to better manage the care they provide. Through an easy to use app, care workers capture daily visit logs, and a central hub allows staff to track real-time information. Family members receive live and daily safety and well-being updates through the app, including from optional home monitoring sensors. Birdie helps domiciliary care agencies to increase efficiency, and improves the care people receive in their homes through systematic monitoring, prevention of risks, and support to carers. 

11.  Buddi

Buddi Connect is a smartphone app, enabling people to stay in touch with those they care for. Safe groups of connections are united through the app to share private, secure messages and raise instant alerts when help is needed. Important messages from the NHS can be shared directly to users. During this difficult time, while many vulnerable people are missing the face-to-face contact of family, friends and carers, the reassurance that help is available at the touch of a button is more important than ever.

12.  Just Checking

Just Checking supplies activity monitoring systems, used by local authorities to help with assessment of older people in their homes, for social care. Sensors pick up activities of daily living and display the data in a 24-hour chart. The company also has a second, more sophisticated activity monitoring system, to help manage the care and support of adults with learning disabilities.

13.  Peopletoo Ltd/ Novoville

Peopletoo and Novoville have been selected to launch GetVolunteering, a volunteering app to fast track volunteers into clinical and non-clinical roles to support the fight against Covid-19. It will enable local authorities to quickly identify and assess capable volunteers in the local community to fill key roles to support social care in areas that have been impacted by loss of staffing capacity due to Covid-19, or for new roles that are required during the crisis.

14.  RIX Research & Media, University of East London

The RIX Multi Me toolkit provides highly accessible and secure social networking that serves as a support network for people with learning disabilities and mental health challenges. This easy to use multimedia network, with accompanying communication, personal-organiser and goal-setting tools, enables isolated and distanced vulnerable people to build stronger support circles. It helps them self-manage their care and actively limit the impact and spread of Covid19 infection. Care professionals use the ‘Stay Connected’ RIX Multi Me Toolkit to remotely monitor and support people’s wellbeing in an efficient and friendly way.  

15.  Simply Do

Simply Do will develop a virtual community of NHS medical professionals currently in self-isolation. These employees have significant expertise, experience and skills which can be unlocked virtually to help solve COVID-19 care challenges set within the platform. This will create a powerful ‘think-tank’ of medical professionals to contribute virtually to fight COVID-19 by solving wider health challenges (i.e. challenges faced in the care sector).

16.  SureCert

SureCert is a digital platform that connects people with job and volunteering opportunities. The system also manages background checks. SureCert can provide data on successful placements, and information to enable policy makers to better understand the labour market and volunteering supply and demand.

17.  VideoVisit Ltd

VideoVisit® HOME allows the elderly to communicate with their family members and home care providers through a virtual care tablet designed specifically for elderly. VideoVisit will measure how this virtual home care service can increase people’s feeling of safety and decrease loneliness during self-isolation. 

18.  Virti

Virti aims to make experiential education affordable and accessible for everyone. Virtual and augmented reality, coupled with AI, transports users into difficult to access environments and safely assesses them under pressure to improve their performance. The system is used for training and patient education.