Pioneering health technology

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A senior NHS consultant has joined forces with a design director to pioneer new products which benefit patients and doctors alike – and their first invention has already been shortlisted for a major NHS innovation award.

Ultramed was formed by Dr Paul Upton, a practising consultant anaesthetist at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT) in Truro, and Alan Sanders, co-founder and owner of digital production studio Sanders Shiers which has offices in Falmouth and London, after the pair met by chance on a business flight.

After setting up their new business at the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro, Dr Upton and Sanders launched their first product called MyPreOp. This new technology allows patients waiting for an operation to log into a secure website and complete their pre-operative assessments online from the comfort of their own home using a computer or even a smartphone.

L-R: Dr Paul Upton; Karen Murray, manager of the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro; Alan Sanders; April Smith-Taylor, a newly-recruited administrator at Ultramed
L-R: Dr Paul Upton; Karen Murray, manager of the Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro; Alan Sanders; April Smith-Taylor, a newly-recruited administrator at Ultramed

As well as the numerous benefits to patients of reducing hospital visits and not having to repeatedly answer questions on their medical backgrounds ahead of a planned surgical procedure, the concept could also dramatically enhance hospital processes, reducing the time doctors and nurses have to spend on data collection and freeing medical staff up for clinical work.

MyPreOp is already attracting nationwide attention from hospital trusts keen to work with the technology, and the product was shortlisted in the NHS Innovation Challenge Prizes 2014/2015, beating more than 350 other entries to reach the finals.

As well as managing Ultramed, Dr Upton continues to work part-time as a consultant anaesthetist at RCHT in Truro, giving him an invaluable insight into the needs of the NHS today.

“Ultramed will be about more than just one product,” he said, “as we have big ambitions and a pipeline of products in development.

“We held a launch at the Association of Anaesthetists’ London conference attended by over 1,000 anaesthetists earlier this year, and had incredible interest with more than 35 hospital trusts wanting to find out more details.

“We hope to begin pilot trials with NHS hospital trusts soon and if they go well, this is a product which has national potential to make a real difference, both to patients and to the NHS.”

Ultramed has been supported with a grant from the Business Innovation Fund, managed by Cornwall Development Company, and has just recruited its first member of staff sourced through the Unlocking Potential programme.