Perthshire tech firm in funding bid to deliver infrared R&D project
Perthshire based Alba Medical Sciences has launched a funding bid for the first project of its kind to combine new optical technologies and computer algorithms to remotely diagnose a person’s state of health, including for Covid-19.
Working in collaboration with NHS Ninewells and with support from Dundee, St Andrews, and Abertay Universities, the Alba Vital Scan project is scheduled to run for a year starting in January 2021 and has the potential to revolutionise the way in which a patient’s health is assessed whilst at the same time protecting NHS staff. The GoFundMe appeal launched on Tuesday 8 December with a target of £120,000 to fund the 12 month research project.
Grant Rooney, founder of Alba Medical Sciences commented; “The FLIR scientific infrared hardware and software we work with is highly advanced and is frequently used in military and space applications. We know that we can use this technology to detect minute increments of the human body temperature. When linked to other technologies, we believe we can also measure heart rate, respiration rate, CO2 and blood-oxygen levels. These are the vital signs used by healthcare professionals to assess patients and to make a diagnosis on their general state of health. At present, measuring these vital signs requires some form of attached device and physical contact between patient and healthcare professional, leaving the latter exposed to potential infection, even when using PPE.”
“We will be working with NHS Ninewells on the Alba Vital Scan project over the next twelve months, developing and applying the latest mix of optical sensor technology to measure an individual’s vital signs without physical contact. Software will be used to analyse the data and produce a predictive medical diagnosis. All of the hardware will be contained within a mobile robotic device, with remote communication between clinician and patient that allows a consultation to be held in a safe environment.”
Alba Medical Sciences is the R&D division of Alba Building Sciences Ltd. Since its inception in 1995, the business has been a pioneer in applying Infrared Thermography to assess the build-quality and energy-efficiency performance of buildings. Alba Building Sciences has worked across the UK and internationally, on a wide range of innovative projects including Fort Washington in the US, The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the Burrell Museum in Glasgow.
Alba Medical Sciences has also been working for some time on the potential benefits that could be delivered by introducing highly sophisticated optical measurement systems into healthcare settings to produce a contactless patient diagnosis. Scotland’s specialist rural enterprise agency GrowBiz, has provided strategic support to assist the team at Alba as they launch their bid to raise funds and help bring the Alba Vital Scan project to fruition.
Rooney explained that the motivation for the project came from “the sad fact that one in five of COVID-19 patients are healthcare workers. As they deal with an influx of patients, all of whom must be assessed for COVID-19 or other potentially contagious and dangerous illnesses, they need the best protection available.”
Jean Ngoie, Head of Instrumentation & Clinical Engineering at NHS Tayside said; “We have a unique opportunity to speed up diagnosis, pin point areas of interest and allow our clinical team to customize therapy based on information that will be made available as a result of this project. As a result, we will be able to provide better and enhanced clinical services to the population that we serve.
Jackie Brierton, CEO of GrowBiz concluded; “‘The fact that such a pioneering project has been developed in rural Scotland demonstrates the importance of supporting our rural businesses. These innovative SMEs and micro-enterprises are the backbone of Scotland’s economy and of the communities in which they are based, and they need the right support to fulfil their full potential. I hope the general public will back this campaign to raise the funding needed for such a ground-breaking trial.”
The funding appeal is looking to raise £120,000 to go through the various stages of research and development and deliver a final product by December 2021. Full details about the Alba Vital Scan Project can be found at www.albamedicalsciences.scot and funding pledges can be made at is https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-alba-vital-scan-project.
Mr Rooney concluded; “Demonstrating the successful and effective use of this technology to deliver a clinical diagnosis would allow it to be used in a variety of medical settings, such as hospital A&E, to deliver quick, safe assessments of patients. The more we can do to protect NHS staff from exposure to contagious illnesses, the more we are supporting the NHS to deliver safe, effective care at a time when it is under unprecedented pressure.”