How this touchless thermometer could reduce a nurse’s workload

1 Feb 2019256 Views

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Infrared thermometer similar to TriMedika’s. Image: © pongmoji/Stock.adobe.com

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TechWatch’s Emily McDaid finds out more about TriMedika, the creater of a zero-touch thermometer that could reduce infection and save valuable time in hospitals.

Two female business leaders in Belfast are selling a zero-touch thermometer into hospitals around the world, transforming standards of nursing care.

TriMedika’s thermometers use infrared technology to measure the heat a person emits. By simply pointing the handheld device at the patient’s forehead for a few seconds, the surface temperature is taken and automatically converted into a core body temperature reading.

TriMedika’s co-founder dreams of a future where nurses don’t have to do any note-taking. “While the patient is in bed, a nurse could zap a barcode on their wrist, hover the device over the forehead and send the reading into their patient record without ever having to wake the person up or take any notes,” said Dr Roisin Molloy, CEO and co-founder.

two women wearing lanyards standing at display booth at conference, showing their medical product.

From left: Roisin Molloy and Julie Brien at a nursing conference. Image: TechWatch

I immediately begin to envisage a future where a robotic arm hovers the device over, reducing the human workload for busy nurses.

Molloy continues: “On general wards a patient’s temperature is taken twice a day, but in other cases, such as with chemotherapy, it’s every hour.”

With the frequency of these readings, the traditional technology shows its limitations. Thermometers that require contact – in the patient’s mouth or ear, for instance – require plastic tips to keep it as sterile as possible. These plastic caps cost the NHS £80m every year, TriMedika has estimated.

“There’s a huge infection control benefit from a contactless device,” points out Molloy, who says that “80pc of hospital-acquired infection is transmitted through touch”. She also points out the reduction of “consumables and the associated environmental impact”.

The devices are currently in use at the Mater Hospital in Northern Ireland, among others.

TriMedika designed the device and brought it to market in just 18 months – incredibly quick for a medical device. The company is already revenue-driven, having been bootstrapped by two angel investors, as well as Molloy and her co-founder, Julie Brien.

Now, the team is ready to scale up. “We know this can be a multimillion-pound business and we want to avail of every opportunity to get there,” says Molloy. That’s why they’ve taken a place on the new Way to Scale programme, the first step of which is to attend MIT’s Entrepreneurship Development Program with Bill Aulet.

red-haired woman with black polo neck and teal pleated skirt standing beside a welcome sign at MIT.

Roisin Molloy. Image: TechWatch

Molloy says that the timing was uncanny when the Way to Scale programme became open to entrants. “I was speaking to a founder who grew his company from zero to £30m in the space of a decade. I asked him, what was the tipping point? He said a CEO transformation programme was it. That same day, I had a message about Way to Scale.”

Molloy says that TriMedika is on registered medical device frameworks in the UK, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and some western European countries. “We’re taking orders from South America and Australia as well,” she says.

Sales have been boosted by a cost calculator, which shows that a typical hospital with 900 beds, having 300 working thermometers, would save £165,000 annually using contactless devices. The device “gains return on investment in just four months”, says Molloy.

By creating a bespoke business plan to achieve a “blueprint for scaling”, as Molloy calls it, TriMedika will be positioned to respond to the interest from 50 countries that it has received thus far.

“Doctors and nurses tell us our product is a no-brainer,” says Molloy. “This blueprint will help us focus,” she concludes.

By Emily McDaid, editor, TechWatch

A version of this article originally appeared on TechWatch

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