Christopher McCann founded “snap40” which proposed a patient health early warning system for the hospital and community. Christopher explained: “Research has shown that up to 35% of in-hospital cardiac arrests are preceded by warning signs that are missed by stretched healthcare staff. Snap40 has developed a wearable medical device that continuously monitors the health of a patient across a wide range of indicators and then analyses this data in real-time to accurately detect the early warning signs of deterioration. Notifications are then pushed to healthcare staff through a mobile device, allowing interventions to be put in place earlier. This will save lives, as well as reduce healthcare expenditure and stress on resources.
As dehydration is a significant problem in hospitals, accounting for approximately 83,000 bed days at a cost of £0.95 billion a year in the UK alone, Snap40 wanted to incorporate an ultrasound measurement into their medical device for non-invasively monitoring hydration levels in a patient.
The knowledge, expertise and facilities for producing wearable ultrasound sensors were available at the University of the West of Scotland's Sensors and Imaging Group, who have a long history of developing ultrasound transducers. In particular, Dr. Dave Hughes, a Research Fellow at UWS, has devised a novel method for rapidly fabricating ultrasound transducers that operate at high frequency, vastly simplifying the process.
With the collaborative project between Snap40 and UWS being funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher and administered by Interface, UWS will demonstrate the feasibility of using Snap40’s current transducers for contact measurements of properties of skin with a) coupling gel, b) minimal coupling and c) no coupling. The development of the Ultrasound sensor will feed directly into the product design of the snap40 device, with ongoing knowledge exchange between the University and the company.
Wearable ultrasound is an emerging field that this project will drive. Currently, ultrasound measurements through skin are undertaken using large commercial scan systems whereas this project demonstrates the use of a UWS developed ultrasound transducer for portable, wearable, low-power systems. No existing wearable device on the market is able to monitor hydration levels. This will be a significant move forward in the field towards the commercialisation of something completely novel and highly valuable.
The company will benefit via the addition of new value to its proposition, increased ability to sell their product and the revenue generated from this. It will also allow the company to generate a new barrier to competitors entering the market and increase the attractiveness of the company to private equity investment.
The Scottish Economy will benefit through the creation of new jobs, as well as the development of a high growth, high value business headquartered in Edinburgh.