The NHS could save itself millions of pounds a year if it fully adopts a new computer system that allows doctors to tailor treatments to specific patients, its creator has said.
Enabling clinicians to see the right medical history at the right time and act upon it would enable the UK’s health service to speed up treatment, making it more effective and therefore saving time and money, according to Jorge Cortell, the founder of medical imaging firm Kanteron.
Cortell, who is based in London, has agreed a deal for the NHS to use his computer programs, which standardise scanned images such as X-Rays and MRIs, offer doctors quick access to a patient’s genomic data so they can tailor drugs to them, and bring together a patient’s biological information, such as glucose levels and blood pressure.
“There are some cases where the saving on individual patients can be many thousands of pounds, just from doctors being able to look at the right data at the right time. It can save the NHS millions every year. The impact is huge,” Cortell said.
When treating a patient, doctors currently prescribe the most commonly-used drug, before moving on to other options if that initial treatment doesn’t work. This “trial and error” approach means a patient has to try a drug for a while before realising it doesn’t work and going back to their doctor, before the whole process starts again.
“Between 25% and 75% of medications, depending on the condition, don’t work,” Cortell said. “You have to change to another one and then another one, and every time you do that it’s time and money spent and you put the patient at risk. There are many databases that collect information on which variants and medications work, but if you’re a clinician you are not going to start logging in and out of those, so we combined all of them and also allowed doctors to have their own. Now they can see that for this patient with this variant, this medication will work. It’s a two-click, three-second process for the clinician.”
Jorge Cortell with his wife Stephanie
Kanteron’s programs also allow doctors to quickly spot parts of a patient’s DNA that mean that person could react negatively to a certain medication. A doctor could then prescribe a different drug to treat the condition.
Kanteron, which has offices in London, the US, Spain and Peru, is in direct contact with 17 NHS trusts from across the UK, as well universities and higher education institutions. The company has also worked with Great Ormond Street Hospital for more than four years.
The company has focused on developing “open source” programs, which means the NHS can download and use Kanteron’s software for free. Cortell’s firm can then provide implementation of the programs, training and technical support, if needed.
“Kanteron’s decision to making their imaging, genomics, pathology and biosensor suite freely available to and under custodianship of the NHS can potentially transform the way clinicians will interpret healthcare data to provide better patient outcomes,” Shawn Larson, a Senior Project Manager at the NHS, said.
“It’s the first time a major player in the diagnostics industry has taken such a step and the focus is very much on collaboration, development and partnership with the NHS.
“With major components of the platform being cloud-based, industry support, particularly Microsoft’s decision to make Microsoft Azure preferentially available to the NHS, is an important step in enabling the infrastructure to take this initiative forward.”
“From day one security has been paramount to us, not only because we are handling healthcare and genomics data, but also because we work in 15 countries. We’re very excited about working with Microsoft. Using Azure means our platform can be run on-premise or in the cloud. That has led us to collaborate with Microsoft on lots of different areas and initiatives that we didn’t even know Microsoft had,” said Cortell.