NHS England gives companies £8.7m to develop new technologies to help GPs

NHS England has awarded £8.7m to 10 companies that are developing new technologies aimed at 'future-proofing' general practice.

Some of the companies are developing technology to support self care (Photo: iStock)
Some of the companies are developing technology to support self care (Photo: iStock)

The funding has been awarded via Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Healthcare, an NHS England scheme that works with England’s 15 Academic Health Science Networks to identify new technologies developed by small businesses and start-ups that could help improve patient care and increase efficiency.

The 10 products that will receive the money were selected from a shortlist of 22 companies that received ‘feasibility funding’ for six months in April 2017.

The products include a point-of-care device that allows GPs to diagnose bacterial infections and antibiotic susceptibility, an online platform that helps patients with diabetes self-manage their condition, a system that connects patients at home with a GP via an app and a low-cost test for the early monitoring of sepsis.

The companies will receive between £700,000 and £1m each to continue developing and testing their products over the next 12 months.

SBRI Healthcare supports the companies through this period and then provides them with advice on marketing their products to the NHS. It will then be up to CCGs and/or practices whether they buy the technologies that are available. Some of the products could be available within one or two years, others may take much longer to come to market if they need to be involved in clinical trials.

Dr Jo Roberts, clinical lead for innovation and medicines optimisation at South Devon and Torbay CCG said: 'The SBRI Healthcare programme addresses challenges that those at the coal face of medicine are facing. It is a privilege to be involved and to see the evolution of technologies that could become the ground-breaking medical innovations of the future.’

The companies that will receive funding are:

  • Cambridge Respiratory Innovations has developed a self-care asthma monitor that uses an LED-based sensor specifically to measure CO2 in respired breath. The technology has been proven in COPD and the feasibility study will investigate its potential use in asthma.
  • Doc Abode Ltd is developing a platform that connects patients at home with a GP via an app. Home visit or triage requests are matched using mapping algorithms to available GPs in the locality.
  • Dovetail Lab has been awarded funding to assess the feasibility of implementing personal healthcare records, care provider communications and approval processes onto a private Blockchain (a standard method of producing a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography). A short- and long-term cost benefit analysis will be undertaken, and ability to deliver at scale assessed.
  • Fraunhofer UK Research Ltd is developing a point-of-care device to enable GPs to immediately diagnose bacterial infections and antibiotic susceptibility.
  • iPLATO Healthcare Ltd already has an app, myGP, that allows patients to book and cancel appointments. With this funding the compant aims to introduce a smart virtual waiting room 'Saibot’, which will ask patients questions to inform the GP consultation or direct them to alternative care, for example a pharmacy or self-referred clinics.
  • Medtechtomarket Consulting Ltd is developing a highly sensitive, simple and low cost test for the early diagnosis and subsequent therapy monitoring of sepsis.
  • MSKnote has developed new software called Stipo, which aims to help patients with musculoskeletal problems self-manage their condition. It allows GPs to provide patients with the information discussed in their appointment in text and video formats along with features to access further information, other health-related services and remote reviewing.
  • MyWayDigitalHealth is an award-winning online diabetes self-management platform  developed by the University of Dundee that provides patients with validated multimedia education, a complete electronic health record and  algorithms-driven tailored advice, reports and goal setting tools.
  • Orsus Medical is developing a non-invasive blood glucose monitor for real-time and continuous monitoring by patients with diabetes.
  • xim Ltd has developed a product called ViVa Visual Vitals, which automatically and passively measures heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation if patients remain in the line of sight of a webcam for at least 30 seconds. The company says the system could enable automatic vital signs measurement in the check-in, waiting room and consultation areas, significantly freeing up clinician time during consultations.

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