Local innovation TickerTest behind landmark NHS Digital Health Check trial in Cornwall 

Local innovation TickerTest behind landmark NHS Digital Health Check trial in Cornwall 

With support from the South West Academic Health Science Network (South West AHSN), innovative digital health app Tickertest is behind a first-of-its-kind trial launched in Cornwall by NHS England last week to enable patients to undertake health checks at home. 

NHS Health Check powered by Tickertest is displayed on a mobile phoneThe trial – part of the government’s plans to digitalise the existing face-to-face NHS Health Check – aims to free up hundreds of hours each year for GPs who are responsible for delivering the checks for adults in England aged 40 to 74.  

Tickertest, a digital replication of the NHS Health Check developed in the South West, enables patients to carry out their health check remotely at home and independent of any healthcare professional. Patients can do the checks at a time and place which suits them and includes a home blood test kit. Only those whose results indicate an underlying health condition will be followed up by their GP practice.  

Offering patients a digitised health check that they can complete remotely increases the opportunity for uptake, while reducing the burden on GP practices to deliver the checks face-to-face, allowing them to focus their time on those patients that require follow-up. Moving ownership of the Digital Health Check to the individual can also encourage the individual into self-improvement pathways for their own health. 


A first for Cornwall 

A total of 15 million people are eligible for free NHS Health Checks in England, which help to prevent stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some types of dementia.  

The uptake of NHS Health Checks has been historically lower in Cornwall than most local authorities in England. During 2019-20 over 13,400 checks were offered and over 6,900 were completed, but in 2021-22 approximately 4,300 were offered and just over 1,900 were completed. 

Digital health checks can be of particular benefit to people who are geographically isolated, like many patients living in Cornwall and across the South West region where there are large rural and coastal populations.  

Tickertest was developed to offer choice to those that have previously not taken up the offer of a free NHS Health Check, as well as to support GPs to carry out the health checks that they need to in a cost and time-efficient way. 

With support from Cornwall Council, more than 2,000 patients from three surgeries across Cornwall have been invited to take part in the trial.  

Tickertest partnered with iPLATO Healthcare Ltd to orchestrate invitations, including updating the GP patient record with more than 20 SNOMED Clinical Terms – a clinical vocabulary used in electronic health records.   

The task force behind the trial includes representation from the UK Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, each GP surgery in Cornwall, and Tickertest, and results from the trial are being evaluated by Staffordshire University. 


Peter Bayliss, Head of Client Services at Howoco, the creators of Tickertest, said: 

We are really pleased with the feedback we have received from GPs and from members of the public, and are excited now to conduct similar trials in other regions of the UK. With health check take up post-COVID at an all-time low (0.8%), we know our product can make a real difference.


Dr Andy Sant, managing director of NHS Cornwall’s North and East Integrated Care Area said:   

Much has been achieved in our county around digital inclusion, and the preventative value of health checks is already proven so we are delighted that patients in Cornwall are being given the first opportunity to access a digital version through this innovative trial. Amid such sustained pressure upon general practice, this is a welcome and logical progression. 

The associated benefits are wide-reaching, from the convenience and savings for patients, to the positive impact on GP appointments. I hope that everyone who is invited will take up this offer. As well as the personal benefits, they will be helping to inform future advances at national scale.


Understanding the barriers to engaging with digital health checks 

While online health services can be of particular benefit to patients living in isolated rural and coastal areas like in the South West, engagement can be impacted for people without connectivity, devices, confidence and skills in using digital technology.  

In order to better understand why some patients may not respond to offers of a digital health check, and/or may prefer a face-to-face health check over a digital version, the South West AHSN is providing £25K to Staffordshire University to increase the scope of the evaluation to better understand the barriers some people face when interacting with their local surgeries.  

Tickertest continues to innovate and has plans in place to allow access to the Digital Health Check for people without Wi-Fi or digital devices.  

The project eHealth Productivity and Innovation in Cornwall and The Isles of Scilly (EPIC), led by the University of Plymouth’s Centre for Health Technology, has recently awarded Tickertest a grant to build on learning from the new trial to develop a semi-automated version of the Digital Health Check with a GP Dashboard.  


Innovative collaboration 

News of the trial is the latest success in our relationship with Howoco, the creators of Tickertest, who first engaged with the South West AHSN through our Innovation Exchange in June 2020.  

Since then, we have provided information, advice and guidance to Howoco, leading to a successful application to Smartline, a collaborative project exploring how everyday technology can help people in Cornwall to live healthier, happier lives, which led to their first local test with a community development organisation.  

We have also continued to provide mentoring and support to Howoco in accessing further grant funding and navigating the NHS.  

For Peter Bayliss, the support of the South West AHSN is helping Howoco to garner the insights it needs to support the adoption and spread of Tickertest in the NHS. 

“We are grateful for the continued and encouraging support of the South West AHSN. Their expertise has helped us plan and develop this trial, and their funding has meant we are able to expand our evaluation of the results. We look forward to working with them as we develop Tickertest throughout Cornwall and beyond”. 

We look forward to our continued collaboration with Tickertest to help them develop and take their exciting innovation to the next stage. 

Learn more about our Innovation Exchange, supporting innovations like Tickertest to spread in the health and care system.   


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