April 2, 2020 @ 10:14 by Richard Dawson
A healthcare supplier and electronics firm are collaborating on a new product, which could potentially save the NHS £250 million a year.
Quality Hospital Solutions (QHS) and PragmatIC, both based at NETPark in Sedgefield, are working together on SamplePod – a revolutionary tracking and transport system for pathology samples.
QHS managing director, Andrew Turner, designed SamplePod after a large regional pathology lab highlighted that they want to develop a more efficient way of transporting their samples.
NHS Foundation Trusts receive thousands of samples per day for analysis into their pathology departments, with the samples arriving in many different types and sizes.
Because of this, transportation and processing can be inefficient, as the current system involves packing samples into several individual plastic bags along with paper request forms.
As well as being labour intensive, this system uses a lot of non-recyclable packaging, due to strict regulations in the healthcare industry.
This is why inventor, Andrew Turner was determined to find a solution to reduce waste, drive efficiency and increase capacity.
His innovative product, SamplePod, will remove more than five tonnes of waste from one pathology lab alone.
Andrew explained: “From talking to pathology labs and NHS experts I knew I had to design a transport method that would prevent samples from being damaged, lost or contaminated, as well as eliminate the need for plastic bags and paper request forms to reduce waste.
“Specimen samples come in a variety of sizes, so I came up with the concept of developing a collection pallet that could host sample tubes of varying diameters.
“SamplePod holds every possible sample size securely and within one pod and can be used time and time again.
“By eliminating the use of plastic bags and paper request forms it removes more than five tonnes of waste from the process.
“It is set to revolutionise the way pathology samples are taken, transported and traced worldwide and could potentially reduce NHS costs by £250 million per year.”
QHS has teamed up with PragmatIC to develop the tracking element of SamplePod using radio frequency identification (RFID).
PragmatIC’s flexible integrated circuit technology allows ultra-low cost RFID to be added to every to every sample tube, diving each one a unique digital identity that can be read wirelessly.
Each sample can be fully traced in real-time from primary care or hospital ward, all the way through to the pathology lab.
Initially, SamplePod will be trialled with 10 GP surgeries in Gateshead before being rolled out to a total of 1600 surgeries in the borough.
Scott White, CEO of PragmatIC, added: “Our unique flexible integrated circuit technology is being adopted in a wide variety of novel applications, so strong partnerships are essential to enable the delivery of complete solutions.
“The collaboration with QHS is particularly exciting, set to save money for the NHS while simultaneously improving health outcomes.”