UK start-up that can turn cameras into Covid-19 monitors raises fresh cash
An Oxford-based company which can turn video cameras into health monitors is set to raise £5m in fresh cash, as it sees demand surge among care homes and mental health trusts.
Oxehealth's round, which is expected to close early next week, is being led by existing investors IP Group and Ora Capital, with funds to be channeled into pushing into new regions, in particular Swedish care homes and in US nursing facilities.
Oxehealth has struck deals to provide its software to 18 mental health trusts, two acute hospital trusts and two police forces across the UK, and is piloting its technology with the prison service.
The software works by using computer vision and signal processing to spot activity in a room, and uses sensors to monitor pulse and breathing rates from a distance without having to put in place things such as finger pulse oximeters, or wired clips attached to patient's fingers, that may prove uncomfortable to older people or those with mental illnesses.
It can also allow more distancing between patients and staff, something which has come to the fore during the coronavirus pandemic.
Boss Hugh Lloyd-Jukes said: "We had interest from most mental health trusts in the UK before Covid-19, but it has provided an additional reason. What we've also seen now is the additional benefit of helping to reduce staff contact with patients because you can take pulse and breathing rates, understand the activity of patients without entering the room."
What this means is that mental health and care homes can "reduce the risk to patients and staff," he said.
Mr Lloyd-Jukes said the company had rolled out new features, specifically to help its customers cope with the pandemic, including a "vital signs trends functionality", which monitors when there is a deterioration in pulse and breathing rate, which can be precursors to Covid-19.
Oxehealth also released tools within its technology to allow customers to mark Covid cases on the systems, so that they could adopt the right infection control measures.
It comes amid ongoing concern around the safety of both staff and patients in care homes across the world, with figures released this week showing that more than half of care homes in England had not had a single staff member tested for coronavirus. In some parts of the country, two out of every five care homes had had an outbreak of the disease.
Recent data from the Office for National Statistics suggested that around 15,000 had died from Covid-19 in care homes, equal to just under a third of the total recorded deaths from the virus across the UK. The ONS puts the figure at just over 50,000.