News, Secondary Care

Islacare wins Innovate UK grant to tackle surgical site infections

Islacare has recently won a large Innovate UK grant through the Smart Grants scheme, which focuses on developing “disruptive innovations with significant potential for rapid, economic return to the UK”. Organisations registered in the UK can apply for a share of up to £25 million.

Over the last two years, Islacare has been working with clinical teams in acute and specialist NHS centres to tackle the issue of patients developing a surgical site infection (SSI) following discharge from hospital. SSIs form part of a wider wound care management challenge which is estimated to cost the NHS over £1 billion per year.

The grant will allow Islacare to expand this work to include management of chronic wounds, such as pressure ulcers and lower limb wounds, with Islacare’s technology assessing wound healing using computer vision on patient-submitted images. Assessment information will be presented to clinicians in a way which Islacare say will “drastically improve the visibility of wounds that require clinical intervention”.

The WoundsUK best practice statement reads: “There are particular wound types where white skin bias in education has resulted in confusion around diagnosis in patients with dark skin tones. Most of the literature focuses on pressure ulcers, but evidence-based guidance in this area has still been found to be lacking (Oozageer Gunowa et al, 2017) and, in other wound types, there is generally even less information and guidance available.”

As such, Islacare’s project will place  particular emphasis upon ensuring that the models being developed perform equally well across a range of skin tones.

The Isla record is already used across the NHS to capture and manage patient-submitted data, so Islacare comment that they are “uniquely placed to deliver this capability… This is an opportunity for a truly joined up approach across the NHS with a consortium of existing and new NHS partners coming together to build a shared data set which can be used to address this important issue and others in the future.”