Oxehealth: developing a better way to care for dementia patients

The Oxehealth activity monitoring solution

Every 3 seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with dementia. Furthermore, dementia has now overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in the UK.

Caring for patients with the condition can be challenging, with monitoring often limited to time-consuming physical checks by staff. Now, Oxford-based company, Oxehealth, has developed a way of improving the care of patients by combining computer algorithms with optical sensors. This enables staff to monitor activity like getting out of bed or leaving a room, as well as the patient’s vital signs, heart rate and breathing rate in real time and to medical-grade accuracy.

Oxehealth offers software as a service (SaaS) solutions to professional carers who have a duty of care to a vulnerable person in a room. This enables carers to receive alerts when the system detects care-relevant events. They can then access a live video feed and choose to intervene if they decide it’s needed.

A world-first for patient monitoring

Hugh Lloyd-Jukes, chief executive, commented:

Oxehealth has achieved a world first. We have never before had the capability to constantly monitor a patient’s heart rate, breathing rate, activity and other routine data in this way.

We will, in time, fuse this data together using artificial intelligence so there’s no reason why we can’t use the same technology in the future to detect worsening dementia, or even its onset. This could give us a world where we can detect conditions such as dementia much earlier.

Patients could stay in their own homes or wherever they’re most comfortable without the need to come to hospital. That will save everyone a huge amount of time, money and stress.

Oxehealth is testing the software to remotely monitor patients on the dementia ward at the Manor Hospital in Coventry. This pioneering work has been highlighted in a recent BBC documentary.

Technology to benefit hospitals and prisons

The same technology can also be used to improve the monitoring of people detained in secure mental health hospitals, prisons and police custody suites. These people are often at risk from self-harm, intoxication from drugs or alcohol, or underlying conditions, injuries and complications from medication.

It isn’t always possible to use contact devices with these high-risk subjects as they could use wired devices for self-harm or attacks on staff.

The Oxehealth solution, which was funded with help from an Innovate UK grant saw the company work with Broadmoor Hospital to refine the optical sensor system for use in secure mental health settings. It’s also being used in nursing homes and for remote care in patients’ own homes.

Oxehealth has been working to refine the optical sensor system for use in secure mental health settings.

Oxehealth has been working to refine the optical sensor system for use in secure mental health settings.

A growth in sales and staff

The Oxehealth solutions that don’t need medical device certification became available to customers in 2017 and the company will launch a partner programme for resellers later this year. The vital sign functionality is subject to medical device certification and is not yet available to buy.

The response from investors has been impressive – in 2017, Oxehealth succeeded in raising £3.6 million. And, since starting work on this project, Oxehealth has more than doubled its staff to 25.

In August 2017, Oxehealth’s team won the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Colin Campbell Mitchell Award for the ‘greatest contribution to the advancement of any field of engineering’.

This article first appeared on the GOV.UK website news pages on 20th April 2018.

New driverless cars milestone achieved with vehicles interacting

Yesterday (Wednesday 18th April 2018) the DRIVEN consortium demonstrated publicly for the first time the capabilities of its fleet of autonomous vehicles to interact and ‘talk’ to each other. From its headquarters at the RACE Building at the Culham Science Centre in Abingdon, DRIVEN set two of its vehicles, a white and blue 2014 Ford Fusion Titanium hybrid and a 2017 Ford Mondeo hybrid on the roads to show assembled media the latest milestone in the project.

driverless car

Using their array of lidar sensors, on board computers, and cameras, as well as Oxbotica’s Selenium autonomy and Caesium fleet tracking software, the cars were able to navigate the site autonomously, encountering pedestrians, cyclists and other traffic. Other consortium members Telefonica and Nominet, were on-hand to explain how the DRIVEN consortium is managing the security of this data to protect drivers and other vehicles from cyber security threats.

Speaking on the significance of the occasion, DRIVEN project director and Oxbotica CEO Dr Graeme Smith said: “This is a significant landmark in the development of vehicle autonomy, which has always been about more than simply self-driving. This public trial demonstrates that our technology is able to share data and information that vehicles are then able to use to plot more effective routes, avoid potential hazards, and anticipate conditions more effectively. This will have huge implications on the way autonomous vehicles will operate and how the future of road travel in the UK looks, improving safety, efficiency and productivity.”

Also commenting, Prof. Paul Newman, co-founder of Oxbotica and Director of the Oxford Robotics Institute said: “This demonstration shows once again that the UK is at the forefront of the next generation of travel, and that our expertise is second-to-none at a time when the country is looking to develop global trading links We hope and expect that the technology that DRIVEN is developing will be adopted by vehicle manufacturers all over the world as the first wave of autonomous vehicles, as the public imagines them, comes to market. Our work on display here today could revolutionise people’s lives, and the UK will get to share in an industry that could be worth billions in the years ahead.”

DRIVEN, which is in receipt of an £8.6 million government grant designed to stimulate the development of new technologies, is an ambitious project that will see a fleet of Level 4 autonomous vehicles being deployed in urban areas and on motorways, culminating in multiple end-to-end journeys between London and Oxford in 2019. By operating at Level 4 autonomy a vehicle has the capability of driving itself most of the time without any human input.

DRIVEN’s fleet of vehicles can currently be seen conducting urban trials around the streets of Oxford. By Q3 2018 the fleet will be six-strong. The wide-area road testing of the fleet is due to start in late-summer 2018 across a range of environments including low-speed urban and higher speed long distance motorway driving.

A key opportunity for the consortium and one of its members, global re/insurer XL Catlin, is to create a risk assessment tool to enable the user of the autonomous vehicle to make decisions about what level of autonomy and speed is appropriate for a wide set of driving conditions, and a new insurance proposition for autonomous vehicles. By 2019, the consortium plans to have developed a risk assessment tool that automatically processes a range of data from both the vehicle and external sources that surround it, for example traffic control systems.

This article first appeared on the website of Oxbotica on 19th April 2018.