Heart imaging software among innovations 'fast-tracked' for NHS use

Heart imaging software which could save tens of thousands of patients from undergoing invasive tests are among the latest medical innovations to receive NHS backing.

The technology, which creates a 3D model of the heart to help doctors diagnose coronary artery disease, is one of four products "fast-tracked" into use across the health service as part of an NHS England programme.

A new type of "bowel scope" and surgical stitching which reduces the risk of infections have also been selected.

The scheme aims to improve patient access to the latest advances in technology.

The products will be bought centrally, while 15 NHS Academic Health Science Networks will promote their uptake by trusts across the country.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: "As we celebrate the NHS's 70th birthday, the NHS continues to champion innovation.

"These technologies will improve patient safety and potentially reduce the need for invasive and expensive tests."

The four innovations to receive backing in the latest round of the programme are:

- HeartFlow: Image analysis software that creates a 3D model of the coronary arteries, allowing patients to avoid more invasive tests requiring local anaesthetic for suspected coronary artery disease. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) estimates up to 35,000 people a year could be eligible.

- Plus Sutures: Stitching which reduces the rate of surgery-linked infections such as MRSA.

- Endocuff Vision: A new type of "bowel scope" designed to give a better view of the colon for patients undergoing bowel cancer tests.

- SecurAcath: A device to secure catheters that reduces the infection risk for patients with a peripherally inserted central catheter, used in those who need intravenous access for several weeks or months. NICE estimates 120,000 people a year could be eligible.

Professor Tony Young, national clinical lead for innovation at NHS England, said: "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."

DrDoctor, a digital tool to help patients to reschedule hospital appointments, will also receive funding to be trialled at more hospitals, NHS England said.

Almost eight million hospital appointments were missed in 2016/17, according to most recent figures, with each hospital outpatient appointment costing the NHS around £120.

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