Year/Course: 2015-2016, Lent 2016
Mentor: Dr Marc Bax

Contacts: Dr. Shamus Husheer & Dr. Oriane Chausiaux, Heartfelt Technologies Ltd.
Mentor: Dr. Marc Bax

Emergency hospitalization for heart failure is exceedingly common and costly –50% of heart failure patients will be re-admitted within 6 months, often due to non-compliance with either drug or diet regimes. Half of these re-admissions are primarily due to poor sodium balance in the blood, which is very strongly correlated with edema formation (swelling of the limbs). The successful early detection of edema can often remove the need for hospitalization since the treatment involved, diuretic drugs, are exceedingly effective and work within 24 hours. Many clinical studies have shown that edema formation starts several weeks prior to hospitalization, giving a good time-window in which to detect and act.

The inventors, Dr Shamus Husheer, and Dr Oriane Chausiaux, formerly founded Cambridge Temperature Concepts, the company that developed and sells the DuoFertility product range. They have now turned their attention to the use of machine vision in healthcare, which is a fast-growing area with great potential.

They have developed a prototype edema-detection system consisting of multiple cameras and analysis software. The idea is that a final product would be set up in the patient’s bedroom, to measure their feet and ankles automatically as they get in and out of bed, and recognise edema early.

The challenge for the i-Team is to look at the potential routes to market for such a device, and to use these to help the inventors develop an appropriate first product which is easy-to-use and is acceptable to the initial patients. In particular, medical devices of this nature generally enter the market via partnership with larger players in the market (either large medical device manufacturers such as Medtronic, or providers of complete outsourced care solutions such as Tunstall). Often such relationships ultimately result in the acquisition of technology companies. The key questions for the project are around how the company might adopt a partnership model, who are the key players to partner with in Europe and the USA, and what sorts of similar partnerships or acquisitions have they entered into in the past.