Evolving medical monitors for earlier recognition of critical illness

A new startup business that could fundamentally change the way critical illness is identified and responded to in remote communities to improve survival rates is looking for cofounders to help evolve the future of patient monitoring technology.

Specialist training to read the raw data of patient monitoring displays is often not available in remote and small communities, especially where rarer languages are involved. This leads to the colonisation of healthcare and reduces opportunities for early recognition of critical illness, which greatly increases mortality rates.

Evolved Monitors is a new start-up that seeks to change this by using clinical algorithms built into their remote-patient monitoring system to analyse the raw data – such as blood pressure, pulse rate and oxygenation levels – and allow minimally trained users to identify critical illness through its user interface. Armed with this knowledge, people can then direct remote medics to where the resource is needed most.

Nicholas Dillon, an Associate Lecturer at Robert Gordon University (RGU) and an experienced remote medic, is the Founder of Evolved Monitors. He said: “We’ve continuously gone down a road where we keep adding raw data to the screens of medical monitors like the electrocardiogram, and it’s quite a high skillset to analyse them. These machines are locked away in a critical care ward where we have the smartest doctors and nurses already. We want to move that knowledge far, far forward into the hands of everyday users so that we can start picking up on these illnesses at home and in remote areas because we realise that early recognition of critical illness is the key to survival.

“I teach remote healthcare internationally, often through language barriers, and have taught via translators and even mime. It really makes you get down to the basics of what people need to know and get rid of anything overly complicated. Using this concept, we’re taking what was a really high-end clinical skill and, through the combination of technology and user design, made it so that anyone can see a problem hours before you’d normally pick it up. This is what we are doing in hospitals and it’s what paramedics are doing. Imagine having a device like that in a small village where it takes five days to walk to a hospital.”

Early detection of critical illness within the home allows healthcare providers to be more effective and efficient when working in remote areas by giving first responders the right information to make the call on where to send resources. The mass availability of remote monitoring can also enable early detection of illnesses affecting large populations.

“Years ago, Google used search data for cold and flu recipes to predict flu epidemics and the rise of illnesses,” said Nicholas. “If you have enough of these devices out there, we can do the same thing. You’d have a really good, live understanding of population health and you can use that information to start predicting epidemics before they happen. This helps you to intervene before the problem gets much larger.”

Evolved Monitors is one of 25 businesses to first successfully complete RGU’s Startup Accelerator programme, part of a suite of initiatives launched by RGU designed to promote entrepreneurship and strengthen the economy through the diversification of services and products.

RGU’s Startup Accelerator is the only funded programme of its kind in the north-east of Scotland that delivers mentor-led development as well as seed funding and incubation space to turn creative ideas into viable, high-growth businesses. Now with an understanding of the business behind his vision, Nicholas is looking for additional cofounders to take the next steps with him.

Nicholas said: “Anybody with a passion for helping people and making a difference – you could be an accountant, a tech person or medical person – get in contact with me. It’s an opportunity to get involved at a grassroots level with something that could be big.”