Oxford Uni and NHS trust sign deal for digital health tech

Strategic research agreement with Drayson Technologies provides for commercialisation of products – with promise of profits to support future research

The University of Oxford and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have signed a five-year strategic research agreement (SRA) with Drayson Technologies, a specialist in internet of things (IoT) healthcare tech, to commercialise their digital healthcare products.

Woman using SEND system on computer screenThe university has combined its capabilities in academic research and engineering with the trust’s capacity for clinical validation, working through the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC), and the deal with Drayson will provide a route to global markets for their output. Oxford University Innovation, the research commercialisation company of the university, has licensed the technologies to the company.

Under the terms of the deal, a share of the profits will be returned to the two organisations to fund further research. This was the aim of the National Institute for Health Research when it began funding BRCs.

In addition, the university and trust will receive £5 million of equity in the company, derived from a new round of venture capital funding.

Hospital to home

Professor Lionel Tarassenko, head of the university’ Department of Engineering Science, said: “Our work with wearables, smart devices, and machine learning algorithms has enabled the delivery of real time, personalised healthcare to patients where it is most needed, from the hospital to the home.

“The partnership with Drayson Technologies gives us a unique opportunity to accelerate the development and deployment of these digital health products across a wide spectrum of conditions.”

The products emerging from the BRC undergo clinical testing and validation, drawing on a pool of 80,000 patients and more than 16 million data records, and are claimed to provide significant improvements in health outcomes for patients and savings for the NHS.

The organisations have highlighted three to emerge recently, the first of which is the SEND system (pictured in use) for vital signs observation in hospital patients. It reduces the time taken to carry out a set of observations by approximately 60 seconds and makes it possible to share the data within the hospital.

Second is GDm-health, a system that manages diabetes in pregnant women. It comprises a smartphone app and a Bluetooth-enabled blood glucose meter for the patient, and a secure website with optimised data presentation and alerting algorithms for healthcare professionals. The app automatically sends the blood glucose measurements to the website, along with annotations entered by the patient, and allows clinicians to send text messages to the patient’s phone.

COPD support

Third is the EDGE-COPD system for managing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It enables COPD sufferers to make entries into patient diaries on smartphones and tablet computers, respond early to worsening systems, and receive support from a respiratory nurse who has access to their data.

Lord Paul Drayson, chairman and chief executive officer of Drayson Technologies, said: “These products have shown in clinical trials that they improve patient health outcomes and reduce costs for the NHS. We are delighted to be working with Oxford University and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to complete clinical evaluation and deploy these products more broadly across the NHS.”