Osteoporotic fractures cause patients pain, disability, and can shorten life; hip fractures in particular are a major cause of bed-blocking in hospitals across the UK, as well as costing the NHS and social care providers billions each year.
The UK is leading the world in establishing Fracture Liaison Services (FLS) to reduce subsequent osteoporotic fractures; however, it is recognised that at least half of hip fracture patients have suffered a previous undiagnosed fracture – including vertebral, the most prevalent – representing missed opportunities for intervention.
SpineAnalyzer™ software by Manchester-based Optasia Medical is already being used abroad to help radiologists identify vertebral fractures on images that have been taken during the assessment of other conditions.
The company has received GM AHSN Innovation Nexus Accelerator programme funding to help it demonstrate how SpineAnalyzer™ and its associated service offering can help optimise FLS strategies for vertebral fracture case finding. Optasia will be able to build on evidence gathered outside the UK and help produce a cost-benefit model based on data gathered within an NHS setting.
“For an SME, developing a scalable and repeatable business model that operates within the complexities of the NHS framework is a significant task. This support from GM AHSN will allow us to speak with the right people very quickly and replace current assumptions with solid data.”
Anthony Holmes, CEO, Optasia Medical
How it happened
As a result of attending a Bionow Lifescience Launchpad event, which was funded by the GM AHSN, Optasia made contact with GM AHSN advisors at Innovation Nexus for support. After learning about the Accelerator programme, they were guided through the application process, for which there was a very narrow window of opportunity, and received funding notification several weeks later.
The company plans to seek further help from Innovation Nexus and its partners, specifically on NHS procurement and working with clinical commissioners.
"Companies, especially SMEs, can face significant challenges trying to introduce their innovative products into the NHS and get them used at sufficient scale to really make a difference."
Linda Magee, Executive Director of Industry and Wealth, GM AHSN
Focused on supporting SMEs to do business with the NHS, the GM AHSN has established the Innovation Nexus as a bespoke support system for med-tech in the Greater Manchester region.
Supported by 34 member organisations and a range of influential partners, Innovation Nexus acts as a one-stop access hub from which companies can access information, funding opportunities and expertise as well as procurement help.
Its current primary priority clinical areas are cardiovascular health, patient safety and digital health/informatics.
“As a small company with limited resources, we will be able to significantly accelerate our strategy for engaging with the NHS”
Anthony Holmes, CEO, Optasia Medical
SpineAnalyzer™ software can be used by NHS radiologists to assess and report on vertebral fractures. It can also be commissioned as a support service for Fracture Liaison Service teams.
Linking to PACS, SpineAnalyzer™ may be used on images of the spine captured during diagnostic examinations of other body areas (like the chest), and delivers a full analysis and comprehensive report of thoracic and lumbar vertebrae.
Vertebral fractures are the most common fragility fracture attributable to osteoporosis, yet are hard to spot and can be easily overlooked during image examinations of other health conditions. It is estimated that 80% of fragility fracture patients remain untreated for underlying osteoporosis; so early identification enables the opportunity for medical intervention.