24 Apr 2020
18 winners of TechForce19 challenge announced – digital innovations to support people during COVID-19
New parents, unpaid carers, the homeless, young people and cancer patients could benefit from digital solutions as part of the TechForce19 challenge.
People who are particularly vulnerable or isolated as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak could soon benefit from a range of innovative digital solutions selected as part of the TechForce19 challenge.
NHSX, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have announced 18 innovative digital solutions have been awarded up to £25,000 under the TechForce19 challenge.
More than 1,600 innovations submitted bids in response to the challenge and successful projects.
Examples of the solutions going forward include:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “This is a hugely challenging time for everyone but for some it’s especially hard. Some people find themselves particularly isolated by social distancing – so we want to make sure they have the support they need at their fingertips. Technology has already proven to be a powerful tool in our response to this pandemic, keeping us connected in ways we could not have imagined even a few years ago. These innovative projects will offer fresh hope and vital support to some of the people who need it most and I’m very excited to see how they progress.”
Iain O’Neil, NHSX Director of Digital Transformation, said: “The TechForce19 challenge has harnessed some of the incredible talent we have in our tech sector, to help the most vulnerable and many of the problems created by isolation lend themselves to digital solutions – we hope this process will help people take advantage of the potential that digital technology offers. The 18 companies we are announcing today have the potential to help a number of the key affected groups during Covid-19, including young parents, the elderly at home, and the homeless, as well as giving people tools to look after their own mental health during isolation.”
Simon Clarke MP, Minister of State, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, said: “In these difficult times, it’s inspiring to see how innovative, digital solutions can help combat the effects of social isolation and support some of the most vulnerable people during the pandemic. I am impressed by the scope of the winning bids, including those helping people suffering from the effects of isolation, hardship and mental health, and it is important, now more than ever, to ensure people get the support they need and deserve. ”
The successful solutions will now receive funding to rapidly test their product to meet specific COVID-19 related needs.
This testing phase will last for 2 to 3 weeks and be followed by an assessment to better understand the potential and scope for accelerated deployment at scale, based on evidence.
NHSX has been working with partners PUBLIC and the AHSN Network to run the fast-track competition for innovators, creating a pool of technologies that have the potential to be rapidly scaled regionally and nationally.
Each prospective technology must have the capability to operate on a standalone basis without the need to be integrated with existing health or care systems.
Guy Boersma, Digital & AI Lead, The AHSN Network, said: “This list of solutions is testament to the talent being harnessed to address the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis. The health and care sector has already seen many solutions being deployed to support vulnerable citizens with mental health needs or other specific conditions, and the pandemic makes it even more necessary that we address the needs of citizens unable to access face-to-face care or even their usual social networks. We are delighted that we have a series of solutions which can be piloted and then scaled to address these pressing needs.”
Daniel Korski, CEO of PUBLIC, said: “As social distancing measures continue, today’s selections amount to a wealth of possible answers to helping the most vulnerable through these difficult times. These companies demonstrate the valuable role for new technologies in helping public services adapt to new challenges, and we’re excited to follow their journeys from here through to deployment.”
For more information about the programme visit Techforce19.uk