The NHS ‘needs a cohesive policy to new tech’

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The NHS needs a more cohesive approach to adopting medical technology and helping bring it to market, a doctor turned tech investor has said.

Dr David Pearce, who has invested in a new blood pressure monitoring device, thinks the NHS is too fragmented when it comes to adopting new developments.

David Pearce, centre, with ViCardio founders Sandeep and Nita Shah.  Picture: Scott Merrylees

David Pearce, centre, with ViCardio founders Sandeep and Nita Shah. Picture: Scott Merrylees

He told The Yorkshire Post: “The NHS needs a much more cohesive approach to technology. At the moment digital entrepreneurs are pitching to individual trusts or individual departments.

“The NHS needs to take a much more global view of backing technology and trialling technology and helping that technology to come to market.”

The medical professional turned tech investor also believes that some responsibility lies with big providers to the healthcare sector. He says they need to enable digital disruptors to work with their equipment.

Dr Pearce said: “You almost need this tri-party arrangement, where you’ve got the medical equipment, the NHS and the disruptive digital companies working together quickly to implement solutions.”

Nita Shah with the ViCardio device and app. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Nita Shah with the ViCardio device and app. Picture: Scott Merrylees

The chief executive of Leeds-based Nephos Solutions has teamed up with Hertfordshire-based medical devices firm Tarilian Laser Technologies (TLT).

Together they have launched ViCardio, a wearable medical device that measures blood pressure.

Dr Sandeep Shah, CEO of TLT, said: “It gives you very accurate beat-to-beat blood pressure in a continuous manner.

“Essentially it’s very different to everything else that has been in the world of blood pressure so far. There’s no cuff, it works instantly and it gives you the same sort of output as what you would get in intensive care or any other high precision medical situation.”

The ViCardio product is currently undergoing clinical trials. The wearable device is aimed at the consumer market and the supporting application will be developed in Leeds.

Dr Shah, a physician who has had a long spell in the medtech industry, said the UK is good at developing innovations.

“But we’re not really that great in adopting technology into the NHS,” Dr Shah added.

Medtech companies need to be given help with not just access to the NHS but also with financing.

“This is a big opportunity,” he said. “If we get this right not only could we shine in this evolving new era of digital transformation but we could continue to be a world leader especially after the various changes that will occur after Brexit.”

Dr Shah believes there will be a series of changes in the industry as a result of Britain’s divorce from the European Union. He said: “An important one is there are question marks about Britain’s regulatory influence in the European Union.

“The fact that the UK actually led a lot of the regulatory initiatives in medtech and actually was the centre of effectively medtech regulation in Europe is now under question.

“The overall strategy post-Brexit for the medtech industry is very much unclear.”

Calls9 in Leeds is developing ViCardio’s app while Statement in Wakefield is building its e-commerce platform.

Nita Shah, CTO of TLT, is also looking to establish a manufacturing site for the business in this region.

Mrs Shah has been impressed by the collaborative approach of the region’s tech businesses.

She says they have shown agility and flexibility that perhaps London-based tech firms are lacking in.

‘A multi-billion opportunity’

Tarilian Laser Technologies was set up by husband and wife Dr Sandeep and Nita Shah ten years ago.

The idea for ViCardio developed when Dr Shah was invited by the WHO and the UN to a workshop looking at the problem of blood pressure measurement in the developing world.

“At that workshop it became very apparent to me that current technology is simply not good enough,” Dr Shah said.

Dr David Pearce says: “This is a multi-billion dollar opportunity.”

The company also has a US subsidiary in Minneapolis and recently brought on renowned patent attorney Steve Schaefer.