Recognising the current pressures in primary care and need to advance the future of general practice, 22 companies are to share in a £2.1 million investment to develop and commercialise novel technologies with the potential to revolutionise GP services, including a Coventry-based business.
AHSNs are co-developing novel technologies for primary care as part of its SBRI Healthcare programme. Innovations which could revolutionise GP services have been funded to address the challenges of an ageing population,
Technologies were sought in three main challenge areas for general practice and the competition was co-led by South West AHSN, Eastern AHSN and West of England AHSN. Winning innovations include the West Midlands' Advanced Therapeutic Materials Ltd, who won a share of the prize pot for their custom fit Isobar compression garments.
Two out of every 1,000 of the UK population will have a leg ulcer at any one time, which equates to 20 patients in a 10,000 GP practice. Each ulcer requires a minimum of half an hour per week skilled primary care nurse time to apply disposable multi-layer bandage treatment. Advanced Therapeutic Materials has developed technology that allows 3D scanning of each leg linked to a tension feeder and flat-bead stitching machine to produce the bespoke Isobar compression garments with a highly accurate pressure profile to 1mmHg of accuracy at any given point. In addition, 3D digital volumetric scanning of ulcers enables objective measurement of the healing rate.
Other successful innovations include: a device that measures novel biomarkers in a patient’s breath to immediately distinguish a viral from a bacterial respiratory tract infection allowing the GP to prescribe antibiotics quickly and appropriately; and a technology that allows for automatic vital sign measurement - heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure and oxygen saturation - while booking in with the receptionist, optimising the patient’s visit and maximising time with the GP.
Dr Liz Mear, Chair of the AHSN Network, commented: “There are few areas of our daily lives that remain untouched by technological advancement. Through the SBRI Healthcare programme, the AHSN Network is working with industry partners to develop solutions that will help deliver high quality GP services to a growing and aging population, and ensure patients across the country benefit from new and innovative technologies.”
Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “General practice has always been a trail blazer for adopting new innovations in our daily practice. At a time when our profession is under intense resource and workforce pressures, it is important that we continue to encourage and support new ideas that can benefit the care we deliver to patients, and make life that little bit easier for healthcare professionals right across the NHS.”
Dr Peter Brindle, Commissioning Evidence Informed Care Lead for the West of England AHSN, who was involved in shaping the call’s brief and a member of the reviewing panel commented: “90% of patient contacts happen in General Practice, so improvements to the quality and efficiency in primary care can have a massive effect on the rest of the system. Innovation in General Practice is not new, but the SBRI GP of the Future award has matched the major issues of diagnostics, patient self-care and practice workload with the very best of business solutions.”
The programme works with leading healthcare players to identify areas where technology can be applied to address healthcare challenges. The 22 successful projects have been selected for their potential value to the health service and on the improved outcomes delivered to patients. The companies will be supported and fully funded to demonstrate the technical feasibility of their proposed concept for a six-month development phase.
With awards of up to £100,000 each, the successful companies (and supporting Academic Health Science Networks) are:
Diagnostics and earlier triage
Workload and demand management
To find out more about the programme, visit www.sbrihealthcare.co.uk.