Paisley medical devices company, QIoT, wins funding from Innovate UK in fight against Covid-19
Paisley based medical devices specialist QIoT Ltd has been awarded almost £50,000 by the UK’s Innovation Agency, Innovate UK, to develop a connected inhaler. QIoT’s smart inhaler will automatically share erratic or unexpected inhaler usage with health professionals to facilitate lifesaving, earlier intervention.
Existing technology in inhalers for Asthma and COPD is limited not only by how well the user adheres to instructions but by the accuracy of information users then share with health professionals. During the current Covid-19 pandemic, when restrictions have reduced non-emergency patient contact, smart-inhalers are more important than ever for GPs to identify possible difficulties arising from over or under-use. This technology offers a remote-monitoring, IoT solution for the very first time.
Frank Quinn, CEO of QIoT says, “At present physicians have no way of knowing whether asthma/COPD medication via inhalers is being taken in the prescribed dosages. Our project will empower physicians to proactively respond to patients who over or under use their medications. We aim to trial this with NHS Scotland. In time it will set new standards in the dispensing and consumption of asthma/COPD medication during and post Covid-19”.
According to Asthma UK*, three fifths of people with asthma in the UK are not receiving the most basic level of care and two thirds of all asthma deaths are preventable if only medication were taken as and when prescribed. They report that emergency care also varies across geographical and age demographics, with older patients, who are most threatened by the Covid19 pandemic, being the least likely to seek and obtain medical help when experiencing breathing difficulties.
Frank Quinn adds, “In response to Covid-19, physicians have changed the medication prescription for their asthma/COPD patients to cover all bases and to minimise the spread of the virus. However, they still do not know whether patients take their medication as prescribed. Our smart, connected inhaler would provide this information in real time, improving patient care and helping to reduce costly emergency admissions; offering considerable improvement on any current manual processes.”
Dr Jonathon McDevitt, an experienced GP based in Dumbarton commented, “This is an exciting innovative technology with the potential to be applied in a diverse range of clinical settings. It will enable a wide spectrum of Health Care professionals to easily access past and present data of patients’ inhalers usage.
“Having access to this information will be extremely valuable during the current Covid Pandemic, and should impact patients being able to take better ownership of their asthma management and reduce anxiety levels both in the current climate and longer term.”
Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK, said: “Businesses from all over the UK have answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through the power of innovation. The ideas we have seen can truly make a significant impact on society, improve the lives of individuals, especially those in vulnerable groups, and enable businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.”
The AI platform used by QIoT smart inhalers can be overlaid with information about weather, pollen counts, seasonal and geographic variations and location and can be adjusted for demographic and individual medical profiles. The smart inhaler could therefore also hold potential as an early warning indication for any future localised outbreaks of Covid19 or extreme pollution events, by tracking geographic hot spots of unusually high usage of inhalers.
QioT hopes to have the smart inhaler and AI platform operational by October this year and, if adopted across the NHS in Scotland alone, predicts that demand could ultimately be worth up to £24m to the Paisley based medical devices innovator. In addition, the innovation could bring far more in savings to the annual £1bn cost of asthma to the NHS.
If successful, QIoT intends to create a further 19 jobs locally.
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