Case Study

Clinicians at the heart of new technology

Date: January 23, 2014

Clinical involvement facilitated by the Medical Technologies IKC has been a key element in bringing Professor Ben Varcoe’s innovation – a portable magnetometer which can be used as a heart scanner – closer to commercialisation.

“Having a clinician involved makes an innovation credible as they’re able to say: this can work,” says consultant cardiologist and Professor of Cardiovascular and Diabetes Research, Mark Kearney. Professor Kearney and Professor of Clinical Cardiology, Alistair Hall, are working with Professor Varcoe on the clinical aspects of the new technology, identifying the clinical settings where the innovation could have the greatest impact, and recruiting patients for initial proof of concept testing, funded through the IKC.

“The first study needed to demonstrate that the scanner could differentiate between healthy patients and those with heart disease, and show that it was both user and patient friendly,” explains Prof Kearney.

Although the trial is still ongoing, interim results are very encouraging on all points. Prof Kearney has recruited 30 patients at his clinic who are known to have heart disease, and 30 healthy controls. The scans clearly differentiate the two groups – and patients find the scan so relaxing they very often fall asleep!

The next step will be to test the scanner in Accident & Emergency – one of the main clinical settings envisaged for the technology – to show it can discriminate between healthy and heart failure patients in this environment. In Leeds alone, over 13,000 people attend A&E each year with chest pains, of whom 10,000 are found not to have a heart condition.

“Patients currently have to spend 12 hours in hospital waiting for blood test results,” says Professor Kearney. “If we could get an accurate diagnosis in half an hour through the portable scanner, this would get the right patients treated more quickly and reduce the costs to the NHS, by avoiding unnecessary bed occupancy.”

The study will recruit 300 patients attending A&E in Leeds, and based on the findings, will be followed by a larger multi-centre trial.

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