Smart Solutions winners chosen by North West NHS Innovation Service
21 November 2011
Medical experts in Liverpool, Tameside and Warrington are to
play a key role in testing three new medical devices chosen as winners
of the Smart Solutions for Healthcare competition. The products are
expected to help the NHS improve the diagnosis and care of patients with
long-term conditions such a heart disease and diabetes.
Hospitals and GP practices will be at the forefront of testing a
new screening system which can detect people at risk of heart
disease from a photograph of their eye and devices to check for
blocked leg arteries and nerve damage in diabetics. These three
products were winners of the NHS Smart Solutions for Healthcare
competition to find new ways to combat long-term conditions.
A partnership between the Fearnhead Cross Medical Centre and
Specsavers in Warrington will assess the iGrading CVD software,
created by Liverpool company Medalytix. The product offers a new way
to assess people’s risk of heart disease or stroke based on a simple
photograph of the patient’s retina, which then undergoes computer
analysis. It does not require specialist staff and could even be
carried out as part of a routine eye test. Medalytix suggests it
could cut the cost of the government screening programme for
over-40s by up to 35 per cent.
Maggie Bowen, practice manager at Fearnhead Cross Medical Centre,
is working closely with Andrea Eaton, practice director at
Specsavers in Warrington, to recruit patients and run the trial.
“Eye tests have been able to detect all sorts of medical
conditions, from diabetes to high blood pressure, for decades and
this new technology will enable us to do even more," said Andrea
“We already use a fundus camera in a standard eye test which can
identify underlying health conditions. What makes the trial so
interesting is that with the new software, scientists will be able
to learn so much more about the circulatory systems of the people
involved in the trial.
”It’s very exciting for ourselves and the Warrington community to
have the chance to take part in this research, which could have
massive implications for the future by saving the NHS millions of
A team at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS
Trust, led by consultant vascular surgeon Mr Rao Vallabhaneni, will
be evaluating the Padd device. Developed by Dialog Devices in
Loughborough, it detects blocked arteries in the leg by using
infra-red light to assess blood volume changes in the foot before
and after moving the leg. Currently patients must be referred to
hospital for diagnosis. Padd offers a rapid and simple way to detect
and monitor the condition in a doctor’s surgery or clinic.
Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and investigator Dr Edward
Jude, a consultant diabetologist and Reader in Medicine at The
University of Manchester, will evaluate the VibraTip device from
McCallan Medical of Nottingham. It uses vibration to test for nerve
damage in the feet, a common problem for people with diabetes and
one which can lead to ulcers. Unlike tuning forks, which are
currently used, the VibraTip provides a consistent source of
vibration so results are more reliable. The device, which is the
size of a key fob and costs around £6, is small and inexpensive
enough for nurses, doctors or podiatrists to keep in their pocket.
The Smart Solutions for Healthcare competition is run by
TRUSTECH, the North West NHS Innovation Service which is based in
Manchester. The winning products were selected by a panel of medical
experts from over 50 entries received from around the world. The
TRUSTECH project team, led by Dr Bryan Griffiths, is currently
setting up the evaluations, with the Padd device being the first
trial to begin next month.
“The NHS faces significant challenges in providing high quality
healthcare over the coming years, particularly to patients with long
term conditions," said Bryan Griffiths. "Smart Solutions for
Healthcare has identified some of the potential solutions which are
available, and we’re very grateful to the hospital and GP practice
teams who are now working with us to put them to the test.
“All three products provide rapid and simple ways to diagnose
long-term conditions within the community, instead of having to
refer patients to hospital. 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
Smart Solutions for Healthcare is supported by NHS North West,
NESTA, Northwest Development Agency (NWDA), England's Northwest,
Manchester City Council, Manchester: Knowledge Capital, and New
Economy through the Innovation Investment Fund Partnership.