Alba Medical Sciences calls on Yes groups to back virus tech funding

YES groups across Scotland are being urged to support a crowdfunder for technology that would help protect health workers from infectious diseases like Covid-19.

The developed product would be a world first for Scotland and could be taken further to improve medical care in remote communities.

Blairgowrie based Alba Medical Sciences is working alongside experts from Ninewells Hospital and the universities of Dundee, Abertay and St Andrews to create the technology but because NHS funds have been badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic an appeal has been launched for financial support.

Alba Medical Sciences founder Grant Rooney, a member of Yes Blairgowrie & Rattray who often attends All Under One Banner marches, is hoping that independence supporters around Scotland will help.

“One of my friends pointed out that if everyone who had been on the AUOB marches in Edinburgh or Glasgow just donated £1 each we would very soon reach our target of £120,000,” said Rooney.

“We know it’s a time when many good causes are looking for support but given the risks to NHS staff that are presented by infectious diseases both now and in the future, we think our Alba Vital Scan technology will be a game-changer as it allows that first critical patient health assessment to be carried-out without any physical contact between clinician and patient.

“This approach reduces the risk of infection to both and allows effective management of the patient’s condition.”

At the moment whenever patients arrive at a hospital, they undergo a “vital signs” health assessment which, in the case of a highly contagious virus, exposes NHS staff to a high risk of infection because there needs to be direct physical contact between them and the patient in order to attach various monitoring devices.

When the pandemic hit, Rooney wondered if the infra-red imaging system his company uses to assess the health of buildings could be combined with other technologies to create a tool to assess the health of patients remotely.

The company has been working with infra-red technology for 25 years, and its first camera was a twin specification of the one used in the Hubble Space Probe.

The 300,000 pixel scientific camera it currently uses is extremely powerful but would still not be enough to assess a patient’s health condition as their respiration and pulse has to be assessed as well as their temperature.

After investigating research being carried out all over the world, Rooney realised the infra-red technology could be combined with other new technology to create a valuable tool which could reduce the spread of infections.

The next phase of the project is due to start next month but requires vital funding.

“We have the support of senior clinicians and scientific specialists along with a number of volunteers willing to take part in the various technology development trials but it will be necessary to acquire some very specialist equipment and to undertake the development and production of enhanced imaging devices and sensors,” he said.

New algorithms will be also needed to process the non-contact measurement data and a remote mobile (robotic) unit will be produced to house all of the kit.

“We are confident that the project can be delivered within the total budget that we are seeking to raise and hope that most folk who love the NHS will consider making a donation to support this effort to help keep them safe, as we all face-up to the challenge of Covid-19 and the possibility of having to deal with even more serious pandemics in future,” said Rooney.

“The more we can do to protect NHS healthcare workers from exposure to contagious illnesses, the more we are supporting them to deliver safe, effective care at a time when everyone involved is under unprecedented pressure.”

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