Small Business Research Initiative

The journey –

The Small Business Research Initiative is an innovation challenge to industry. The object of this particular SBRI was to develop technology solutions to help reduce secondary care admissions and deliver new services and products to the NHS.

The solution featured here is Message Dynamics’ ‘COPD Monitor’ which uses interactive voice technology to monitor patients’ wellbeing.  It is designed to improve patients’ quality of life, improve disease management, reduce admissions and reduce costs.



The COPD monitor calls patients twice a week to record their state of health. Between September 2011 and February 2012, almost 1,500 calls were completed (a response rate of 91 per cent). Of these, 13 per cent generated an alert which starts an automatic escalation process. An initial follow up call by the unit’s nurses resolved 80 per cent of issues and the remaining 20 per cent required home visits. These home visits prevented nearly forty emergency admissions (representing a saving of at least £80,000). The investment in this project by the SHA has been £48,775. However, excluding the development cost the cost of the service to deliver this service is £375 – ie 25p per call. The return on investment ratio of this pilot is in excess of 200:1.

An unanticipated benefit is that patients like talking to a computer; they do not feel they are wasting people’s time and patients report feeling less isolated. Clinicians are also noting that patients are becoming better equipped to understand and manage their own conditions.


Patient setting

In-patient   X Out-patient   X Community based   X
Mental health Chronic illness   X Cross-systems   X


Clinical area

Staying healthy   X Maternity and newborn Children and young people Acute care   X
Planned care Mental health Long-term conditions    X End of life


Information, tools and techniques used

SBRIs start with a ‘problem space’ which can be defined quite closely to respond to a specific issue.  Prince project management underpins the thinking of the programme management team and helps provide a balance between process structure and outcome focus.



The programme covers the South Central SHA area.



SBRI was launched in July 2010 and companies were given six weeks to bid. Sixty-nine companies from the UK and overseas responded in September 2010 and in November, Message Dynamics was one of four companies that received funding to take their proposal to a ‘proof of concept’ (POC) by February 2011. The product was adopted in September 2011 and is now offered to all patients referred to the specialist COPD service at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospital.


Contact details and further information

Duncan Goodes, Head of Innovation Promotion:

Posted on Jan 16th, Cat: , , , , , , , , Tags: , Comments: Comments are off for this post

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