A hospital pharmacist and his team have scooped a £50,000 innovation prize for creating a smartphone app that offers instant advice on antibiotic prescribing.
Kieran Hand, a consultant pharmacist in anti-infectives at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, was part of the team which developed the MicroGuide app that won this year’s NHS Innovation Challenge Prize for infection control.
The free app, an interactive library of microbiology information and advice, was created in 2011 by Hand, critical care expert Sanjay Gupta and microbiologist Adriana Basarab.
MicroGuide helps medical staff at the patient’s bedside choose the most appropriate antibiotic to control an infection, tailored to the patient’s needs, while reducing high-risk prescribing that can spread antimicrobial resistance. It also helps staff decide on alternative treatments for patients who have already developed resistance to common antibiotics.
The hospital said it had seen a reduction in the use of high-risk, broad-spectrum antibiotic prescribing from 40% to 28%, to which the app has contributed. Cases of Clostridium difficile infections per month have also fallen from 60 to 10. The hospital reported fewer adverse reactions and side effects.
In details released about the winning entries, Hand says: “The app provides concise information for doctors on the front line. It allows treatment to be tailored to patients’ circumstances, making it more likely to be effective and reducing the chances of side effects.”
Hand, who is also a Royal Pharmaceutical Society spokesperson on antibiotics, tells The Pharmaceutical Journal that the prize represents “an investment in the next generation of apps that will incorporate decision-support algorithms to tailor bespoke treatment regimens”.
He adds: “Innovation is a way of life for practising pharmacists in the UK as they strive to improve continually the quality and efficiency of care for our patients. I would certainly encourage other pharmacists to enter for the Innovation Challenge Prize, not only to seek recognition and investment but to share the fruits of their labours with a wider audience and make an even greater impact in the wider NHS.”
The antibiotic stewardship team at the hospital that won the prize also includes microbiologist Ann Pallett and infectious diseases specialists Sanjay Patel and Saul Faust.
The app has so far been licensed to 45 other NHS hospital trusts and downloaded by more than 75,000 users worldwide. It is available on iOS and Android devices.
The 2014–2015 NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes, organised by NHS England, awarded a total of £650,000 to 13 winners at a ceremony on Monday 23 February 2015.
Sir Bruce Keogh, NHS England’s medical director, says: “Recognition and reward of local innovations not only promotes further innovation, it is an important step in ensuring improvement across our NHS.”
In 2012, Horizon Strategic Partners agreed to take over the ownership and development of the app.