Innovative diagnostic devices win NHS Smart Solutions competition
11 August 2011
A cardiovascular screening system that uses retinal images,
new devices to detect blocked leg arteries and neuropathy in diabetics,
and a service which uses a monitoring device to diagnose sleep apnoea in
patients’ own homes, are the winners of an NHS competition to find new
ways to combat long-term conditions.
The four were amongst 50 entrants from around the world in the
Smart Solutions for Healthcare competition, which aims to find
better, more cost-effective approaches to diagnosis and treatment
for patients with cardiovascular disease and long term conditions.
All four will now undergo evaluation at healthcare sites in North
iGrading CVD software from Medalytix in Liverpool offers a new
way to assess people’s risk of cardiovascular disease based on a
simple retinal image which is analysed using automated algorithms.
It does not require specialist staff and provides almost instant
results. Medalytix suggests it could cut the cost of the
government’s Health Check screening programme for over-40s by up to
The Padd device from Dialog Devices in Loughborough detects
peripheral arterial disease (PAD) by using infra-red light to assess
blood volume changes in the foot before and after raising the leg.
Padd offers a rapid and simple way to detect and monitor PAD in a
primary care setting and, unlike tests in current use, is reliable
for use on diabetics.
Dialog Devices' Padd
The sleep study service by Cambridge-based Trillian allows
diagnosis of sleep apnoea in patients’ own homes through the use of
an electronic monitoring device. Patients collect the device from
their GP’s surgery attach it to their body before bedtime, leave it
on overnight and return it to the surgery the next day. The surgery
staff then upload the recorded data to the Trillian server, where it
is analysed by a consultant who sends back a report to the GP.
The total cost of £250 compares to £750 for diagnosis in a
hospital sleep centre. The service could save the NHS £25 million if
just half of sleep tests were done using the service.
A user with Trillian's SleepKit
The VibraTip developed by McCallan Medical of Nottingham uses
vibration to test for peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage) in the
feet of diabetic patients. Unlike tuning forks, which are currently
used, it provides a consistent source of vibration so results are
more reliable. It was designed by Professor Andrew Levy at
University Hospitals Bristol. The device, which is the size of a key
fob and costs around £6, is small and inexpensive enough for nurses
or patients to keep in their pocket.
McCallan Medical VibraTip
Smart Solutions for Healthcare is run by TrusTECH, the North West
NHS Innovation Hub which is based in Manchester. Smart Solutions
programme staff will be setting up and monitoring evaluations of the
winning products and services in the coming months.
The winning companies, which were selected by a panel of
healthcare experts, will also be offered office space in the MedTECH
centre on Manchester Science Park.
Dr Bryan Griffiths of TrusTECH said: “The NHS faces a monumental
challenge in the years ahead and new technologies and services will
be required to help change the way care is delivered. Smart
Solutions for Healthcare has highlighted some of the ingenious
potential solutions which are available.
“All four of the winners provide rapid and simple ways to
diagnose long-term conditions in a primary care environment, instead
of specialist centres as at present. Not only do they provide
significant savings on the initial testing costs, but allowing
earlier diagnosis gives scope for more effective treatment and
prevention. This in turn ensures better outcomes for patients and
savings on longer-term care.”
Smart Solutions for Healthcare: