News Alert:

Spotlight on Thermology Health

Thermology Health, a spinout from the UK’s world-renowned National Metrology Institute, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), has developed a unique, patented thermal imaging technology for the prevention of diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulcers are one of the biggest complications of diabetes affecting over 20% of all diabetics worldwide. The Thermal Imaging device’s primary goal is to reduce diabetes related foot amputations by detecting ulceration early so effective treatment can be given.

Thermology Health approached Health Tech Enterprise (HTE) to help perform health economic evaluations. This involved two studies, one in the NHS and one in the US. The studies have demonstrated the patient impact and economic benefits of their innovation, showing cost savings for health systems and improved outcomes for patients. As they look to commercialise, these findings provide the real-world evidence needed to ensure market success, secure investment, and achieve adoption both nationally and internationally.

Read the interview with Yuval Yashiv, CEO of Thermology Health.

The challenge

At Thermology Health, we have developed a novel thermal imaging technology that measures skin temperature very accurately. As a spinout, we are commercialising this technology as a medical application, primarily to measure skin temperature in the area of diabetic foot ulcers. It has long been known that as diabetic foot ulcers develop pre-symptomatically, there’s a subtle rise in skin temperature. Detecting this early can substantially prevent diabetic foot ulcers, one of the top complications of diabetes.

Due to the lack of sensation and poor mobility in diabetic patients, damage to the foot can easily go unnoticed, which can lead to infection, ulceration and ultimately amputation. Foot ulcers are a really growing concern, with 537 million diabetics worldwide, expected to rise to 643 million by 2030.[1] The lifetime risk of developing a diabetic foot ulcer is between 19% and 34%.[2] This has a significant impact on both the patients and the healthcare system, with approximately 2,900 amputations taking place every week in the US due to diabetes and 175 in the UK, costing $80 billion annually in the US and £1 billion annually in the UK.

Our technology

The device we’ve developed is a handheld, small device, roughly the size of a tablet. It has a high accuracy thermal imaging camera to create medically accurate temperature data, proven by clinical trials. Each pixel in the image, typically 72,000 pixels for an image of a foot, provides a temperature value with an accuracy of about 0.2 to 0.3 degrees centigrade, what’s required for medical thermometry. In comparison, security-type thermal imaging is accurate to 2-5 degrees.

Once we capture the image, it’s sent to a cloud platform, where machine learning algorithms clean up the image to make it more machine-readable. AI analysis then provides clinicians with a clear summary of significant findings. This rapid, easy-to-use platform turns biometric datasets into scans and reports in seconds, allowing for early intervention and disease prevention.

Working with HTE

What we’ve developed so far is a device for clinical use. We’ve also been working on developing a home device for patient use, which is much simpler, smaller and easier to use. As part of this project, one of the critical tasks was to conduct a health economics analysis to understand the impact of widespread implementation of our solution for high-risk diabetic patients. This was crucial for proving that the technology not only works but does so in a financially viable way. Being able to show that our thermal imaging device can prevent costly diabetic foot ulcers and amputations helps justify its investment.

In the UK, the NHS spends around £1.5 billion annually on diabetic foot ulcers, about 1% of the entire NHS budget. In the US, direct costs exceed $40 billion annually. We knew the economic burden was substantial and wanted to see how our innovation could impact these costs. This led to our engagement with the HTE team.

Outcomes

Working with HTE, we conducted two health economic studies, one focused on the NHS in the UK and the other on the US market, recognising the different payer systems and market dynamics. Both studies yielded excellent results – if you’re spending 40 billion pa and more on direct costs of diabetic foot ulcers, even if you save 10-20% of these costs you’re looking at very large savings. Similarly, in the UK, we demonstrated potential savings of hundreds of millions of pounds for the NHS if our technology could be implemented in a widespread manner.

Our studies showed not only financial savings but also substantial patient impact, including a significant reduction in the number of amputations and lives saved. This real-world evidence is crucial, especially for investors, as it demonstrates the need, benefits, and financial advantages of our technology.

Impacts

Right now, especially with investors, the findings from our health economics analyses are invaluable. They demonstrate that we’ve conducted rigorous and comprehensive studies with an expert company, providing credible and detailed evidence of our technology’s impact. For investors, these analyses answer the vital questions: what’s the need, what’s the impact, and what are the financial benefits? This is particularly crucial in markets like the US, where payers and providers are under constant pressure to contain costs.

By presenting robust economic evidence, we can convincingly demonstrate that our innovation not only reduces costs but also improves patient outcomes. This dual benefit is a strong selling point, as it’s normally one or the other. Seeing concrete data builds confidence in the viability of our technology, quantifies its potential, and demonstrates that it will positively impact patient care.

What’s next?

This summer, we are looking to begin usability trials in both the UK and the US, including some with NHS hospitals and private practices. We are also submitting for FDA approval, as it’s currently quicker than obtaining UKCA and CE. Additionally, we are setting up as an ISO 13485 company while raising funds to spin out from NPL.

“Working with HTE has been great. We’ve been working with the team for support around two health economic studies that we needed. One was for the NHS in the UK and the other one was for the US market. This has proven to be extremely useful in terms of assessing both the patient impact and economics impact of our innovation. We’re very happy with the results, and the process itself has been extremely professional. We got what we were hoping to get in a very timely way and, overall, the experience has been great.”

[1] https://diabetesatlas.org/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7919962/

Stay in Touch:

Keep up to date with all HTE news and events.

Subscribe to our mailing list