Digital divergence – Combining digital and pharma is proving less easy than previously thought

We tend to view evolution as a one-way process that heads towards the positive. It’s a fallacious view, of course; evolution doesn’t have an end in mind and even as it aims to achieve a greater fit with the environment, it is by no means a steady progress. Its history is full of dead ends, stumbles and falls. Recent months have provided an example of this in the way that pharma companies and digital health companies have fallen out. It’s an important and interesting phenomenon for which evolutionary science provides not one but two explanations. As usual, let me guide you towards the practical implications, for pharma and digital, of evolutionary theory. Failed relationships What we’ve seen recently – for example when Otsuka and Proteus ended their collaboration – is a number of pharma companies looking at digital partners, seeing value in getting together, forming a nascent relationship and then falling out. Interestingly, these break-ups don’t seem to … [Read more...]

Auditor General reports on issues raised in audits of three NHS boards (Scotland)

  The Auditor General for Scotland, Caroline Gardner, has issued reports to the Scottish Parliament on matters raised in the audits of the 2014/15 accounts for NHS 24, NHS Tayside and NHS Highland.   The reports draw Parliament's attention to: Problems and delays with NHS 24 implementing a major new IT system NHS Tayside's need for a Scottish Government loan to break even - for the third successive year Improvements at NHS Highland following a critical report last year. The report on NHS 24 is a follow up to one carried out last year. Delays in implementing a new IT system have brought substantial additional costs and risks to the board's ability to meet its financial targets in future years. The implementation date for the new system has been delayed from June 2013 to October 2015. The estimated cost of the new system is £117.4 million, £41.6 million (55 per cent) higher than the original estimate of £75.8 million. NHS Tayside's continued … [Read more...]

Quarter of skin cells ‘on road to cancer’

More than a quarter of a middle-aged person's skin may have already made the first steps towards cancer, a study suggests. Analysis of samples from 55- to 73-year-olds found more than 100 DNA mutations linked to cancer in every 1 sq cm (0.1 sq in) of skin. The team, at the Sanger Institute, near Cambridge, said the results were "surprising". Experts said prevention was the best defence against damage from the sun. Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers. Ultraviolet-radiation from sunlight bombards our skin and transforms it from healthy to cancerous tissue. Seeds of cancer Many of the mutations that culminate in skin cancer are already known, but the team wanted to know when they first started to appear. The researchers analysed excess skin that had been removed from the eyelids of four patients. They then drilled down deeply into the skin's DNA to discover the very first steps being taken on the journey to cancer. Dr Peter Campbell, the head of cancer … [Read more...]


A NEW, online journal looks set to give nurses on the frontline of care practical information and a more powerful voice. With 800 Twitter followers before the first issue has even been published, Primary Care Nursing Review (PCNR) has the potential to attract thousands of readers. This bi-monthly journal will launch March 21st 2014 It will be free to access, and reflecting the changing nature of care delivery, has been designed to be read primarily on tablets and smart phones, although it can of course be read via a desk top computers. The journal can be accessed via the website or via the Newstand app (iphone/ipad) PCNR is revolutionary because it is the creation not of a typical publisher but a former NHS nurse turned medical writer. Its joint founder and Editor, Deborah Glover, is passionate about providing practical information to nurses while keeping them up to date with the latest news and clinical developments. The aim is to create an online educational resource. She … [Read more...]

Are medical apps on your smartphone good for your health?

Handheld digital tools that record vital signs are revolutionising healthcare, allowing people to be monitored at home, but also raising concerns Medical apps can help you tune in to your body. Illustration: Jean Jullien for the Observer On a dreary November afternoon, the news bulletins are dominated by the fallout from the Mid Staffordshire hospital scandal and predictions of another tough winter in A&E departments but, at LSO St Luke's, a church turned concert hall in Old Street, east London, all is optimism and light. The NHS may be lurching from one crisis to another but, to listen to the entrepreneurs gathered beneath the eves of this Hawskmoor-designed church a stone's throw from tech city, the health cavalry is on its way. Twenty health tech startups from around Europe have gathered at St Luke's to pitch to a panel of venture capitalists in a Dragons' Den-style competition. Up for grabs is a share of a €50,000 prize and the ear of an investor who can … [Read more...]