Innovation proves a healthy occupation

Winner: Innovation in Business Award

Innovation sits at the heart of everything Accrington-based tech firm Sundown Solutions delivers, its focused approach to problem solving has delivered a technological game-changer for the NHS.

The winner of this year’s Innovation in Business category at the Red Rose Awards is working to improve patient care through the collaboration of information and to reduce Delayed Transfers of Care across the health service – significantly increasing patient outcomes.

It is work that has become increasingly important as the UK battles to overcome the coronavirus crisis and prevent hospitals becoming overwhelmed.

Sundown’s patented encrypted algorithm technology is behind a newly-launched coded Yellow Bracelet scheme that allows medical staff from across different health and social care services to access important patient information more easily.

The aim is to create a more joined-up way of working and to cut unnecessary admissions, reduce discharge times and free up beds and resources in hospitals.

Piloted on elderly people with a care package in-situ in Northamptonshire, the yellow bracelet system has been introduced across the area and has reduced the rate of hospital admission of elderly and frail people by 50 per cent. More than 6,500 people in the area now have a Yellow Bracelet package.

Information about the patient’s home care package along with other details such as existing health conditions and medication is uploaded to the system and the bracelet uses a QR code to perform credential-less login to the system for NHS workers without the need for apps, usernames or passwords.

We look at a problem and how to fix it and we use very different, emerging technologies to do that

They can use any device to scan as long as they are a healthcare professional.

If the patient has to be admitted to hospital, medical staff on the wards can use the same Yellow Bracelet to find out about their current care plan, including medication, and to get more information about the patient’s current social care as well as contact next of kin and GPs directly.

The bracelet can also save medical teams valuable time by giving them information on long-term pre-existing conditions, it even has a Covid-19 tracking capability and alerting system, going red if the patient is displaying symptoms so that staff can take the appropriate action.

As well as admissions, the Yellow Bracelet helps to reduce Delayed Transfers of Care if the patient does not need to spend time in hospital. Gabriella O’Keefe, head of quality improvement at Northamptonshire Clinical Commissioning Group, came up with the original concept to combine social care and health information.

The idea was then taken up and developed by the Sundown team and the result was the Heath Groves, managing director of The Sundown Group, says: “It all came out of a conversation with Gabriella and her idea about what this concept could deliver.”

Sundown is now rolling the system out nationally, by offering individuals the opportunity to purchase it for a recurring annual fee. A TV advertising campaign is being launched in the North West and will be extended to other parts of the country later this year.

More than 6,000 bracelets have already been purchased since the company’s Red Rose Award success at the end of March.

Heath says: “The Yellow Bracelet innovation is getting people in and out of hospital faster by giving medical teams quicker access to information. And that in turn is freeing up medical staff and valuable resources.

“It also helps medical and social care teams to have a more joined-up approach when it comes to health and care integration. And again, that leads to faster hospital discharges if people do need treatment on the wards.”

He adds: “We’re seeing growing demand from individuals for Yellow Bracelet as they see how it can be beneficial to the care of their loved ones. The overwhelming demand by individuals to purchase the service has led us to release it to the general public”

The Yellow Bracelet system represents a £500,000 investment in R&D by Sundown, which has a 35-strong team in Lancashire and the US. Turnover this year is expected to be in the region of £12.5m, compared to £1.6m last year – another sign of continued growth.

The bracelet is not the only leading health product created and delivered by Sundown. Bed State Tracker, created using Sundown patented encrypted algorithm technology, also helps the NHS reduce Delayed Transfers of Care. It does this by tracking nursing home bed states in real time - allowing discharge coordinators to deal directly with homes that have current live vacancies.

Sundown Solutions was founded by husband and wife team Heath and Kelly Groves in 2009. Sweethearts since school, they launched the business after Heath left the Army. Kelly, who is the operations director, came to Sundown after a career as a Registered General Nurse.

The business shifted focus in 2015 as the move towards cloud technology started to grow.

Having been involved with the development of cloud technology for Microsoft, specifically O365, Sundown became front runners in the cyber security arena.

The business developed its own credential-less encryption technology - SES Cloud Secure. It guarantees only designated people can access and view a client’s content, regardless of where it is hosted - all Sundown data is hosted in the United Kingdom. It is that technology that drives the Yellow Bracelet scheme.

Heath says: “Our focus is on creating products for our private and public sector customers, including the NHS and the police.

“We build very specific products to meet specific needs. We don’t build technology for technology’s sake. We look at a problem and how to fix it and we use very different, emerging technologies to do that.”

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