Kirsty Marrs |29, April, 2022
When we met with Dr Paul Upton, CEO and Co-founder of Ultramed, we not only asked him about his journey with Ultramed so far, but also asked what his advice would be to other SMEs in the region about funding and application processes – which is to do your research! There are an abundance of avenues which can provide support, not limited to financial. It’s about finding the right one for you and making sure your application matches what the funders are looking for.
Paul, the driving force behind MyPreOp was an NHS doctor for 32 years, and always had an interest in health tech. Realising that eHealth is not just the future, it’s happening now he took the leap to retire from practice early, to create Ultramed.
Although a brave move, it was clear that Ultramed needed Paul’s full time and attention in order to grow the business and bring the products to the market, enabling patients and clinicians to benefit directly.
Ultramed is a pioneering health technology company, with its motivations securely placed in innovation and delivering an easy to use patient friendly interface. Ultimately, placing patients at the forefront of their own care.
The products that have been developed, particularly MyPreOp, address a very specific need; ensuring patients are ready for their operations and procedures, whilst considering efficient use of NHS time, and promoting a move to a paperless future.
National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have recently published a case study on MyPreOp in their ‘Examples of effectiveness and economic digital health case studies’ which highlights the platform is garnering the support that it truly deserves.
When questioned on why Ultramed felt that engaging with EPIC, and ERDF funding was so important, the answer was simple; it wasn’t just about the grant funding. The networking opportunities that EPIC was able to offer enabled a push forward for the project, by meeting new organisations who all had health related priorities and expertise at various events.
Ultramed applied for a feasibility grant with EPIC to work on the back end of their digital health system, which was delivered very rapidly. This saw Ultramed link up with Touchbyte to explore facial recognition elements. The freeing nature of the feasibility process enabled them to push the boundaries of what is possible, by allowing collaboration and ultimately encouraging innovation.
The original feasibility project, developing the backend system for MyPreOp, included the addition of a reporting element which was designed with clinicians in mind, adding technical capability to the branching clinical algorithms, relevant to patient needs. This process not only further improves efficiency but supports the move from paper-based systems to a digital world for health care providers.
MyPreOp is attracting the praise it deserves, recently being one of three shortlisted for the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland 2019 innovation award – and winning! And it is not just clinicians that can see the worth of Ultramed. A recent crowdfunding activity with Exeter based Crowdcube had to close early, because it was staggeringly oversubscribed by day 22, attracting 500 new shareholders. This is truly significant as not only did people understand the merit of what the business was trying to achieve, they also put their hands in their pockets to personally financially support it.
The opportunity to expand beyond MyPreOp is boundless, with other pre-procedural products such as MyEndo having already been developed. For Ultramed, the bigger picture will empower patients further, allowing them to own their own personal health records. The storage of these would be on the cloud, which despite scepticism is more secure than archaic and easily hackable computer systems, and allows patients to manage their own care from the bottom up.
Charging full steam ahead Paul is exploring links with the Department of International Trade (DIT) and recently visited Ireland on a health trade mission; looking to develop not only market awareness but to roll out the technology further. There has been significant interest from Australasia and Paul is working with DIT to explore this opportunity. In the meantime MyPreOp will be implemented within the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, in small numbers at first but we have no doubt that this will be fully embraced in future.
Although the feasibility stage did not generate more jobs within the region, the development grant that Ultramed has now been awarded certainly will. With having more to achieve, it is vital to add relevant skills and new viewpoints to the team, from technical to admin staff.
The development grant means that Ultramed will be able to expand the capabilities of MyPreOp, allowing patients to upload their health documents, store them and then share them with their healthcare provider. This puts the patient at the centre of their care in being able to build up their Personal Health Record. The first phase of developing this is being supported by the EPIC Development Grant, and will deliver ‘MyHealthHistory’ as part of the Ultramed digital health technology platform by the end of 2019.
Ultramed are a shining example of an eHealth technology business, putting patients care really in their own hands.