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Bringing connected health to antenatal care

 

miCARE founding team from L to R: Lana McClements, Chris Watson, Nirmala Bhogal

miCARE Technologies stands for ‘maternal integrated care.’ The company is aiming to bring connected health to common pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes.

“Many women with complicated pregnancies are dragged in and out of clinics weekly. You could spend all day traveling to and from appointments,” says CEO Nirmala Bhogal. “Our system connects patients to their doctors, no matter where they are.”

The idea behind miCARE is that it remotely monitors blood glucose, blood pressure, weight, and other factors such as kidney function.

“It can save £350 for the NHS or other healthcare provider in eliminated clinic appointments, per pregnancy,” Nirmala says.

The system also aims to bring problems to the doctor’s attention quicker. The founders say they’ve invented a “pre-eclampsia test that detects it a whole trimester earlier.”

“With maternal health matters, if you don’t intervene in a timely manner – then the risks are going to be higher,” Nirmala says.

The founders of miCARE feel that more needs to be done to connect patients and doctors remotely. They point to the need to reduce stress for patients, and lower costs for providers.

“Connected health is the thing on the tip of everyone’s tongue. However so few systems are actually capable of capturing data on multiple clinical test or risk-predictive markers and integrating them remotely,” Nirmala insists.

Apart from the bespoke tests that the founders have developed, their system simply connects into pre-existing kit that the NHS and other health providers already use – for example, heart rate monitors, or blood glucose testing kits.

“All the patient needs is their usual devices, Bluetooth and a smart phone,” Nirmala says.

The system also alerts patients when they need to take their tests, or their medication. “It’s all done through your mobile phone,” she says.

I ask Nirmala what’s next for the team. She says, “Our next market is private care, possibly fertility treatment, using hormone tracking. Women with diabetes often find it more difficult to conceive. Here, we have the ability to improve the standard of care.”

Regarding when it will be ready to go to market, Nirmala says, “Our prototype is ready for trial. We’ve spoken to Mayo Clinic in the US and private clinics across Ireland about testing the platform.”

miCARE was founded in March 2018 by two Queen’s university lecturers, Dr Chris Watson and Dr Lana McClements. Nirmala tells me that they’re currently “looking for seed investment – we’re talking to potential investors.”

With 200,000 pregnant women having gestational diabetes or Type 2 diabetes in the UK, that’s a lot of clinic appointments avoided. Nirmala also says that better maternal monitoring can reduce emergency deliveries, which come with a price-tag of at least £700 per pregnancy. If there are problems with the baby’s health, just one day of neonatal care can run up to £1,200. Source: NICE.

The miCARE team has done some research of their own, finding that two out of three diabetic pregnant women said they’re typically in the clinic for more than three hours, and 90% said they would find it acceptable to use a smart phone to send their data to the clinic instead.

miCARE is now a finalist in the Invent Awards, in the Life and Health Sciences category.

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