As the UK continues learning how to live with the pandemic, some key questions remain. Chiefly, how will the NHS grapple with the huge diagnosis and treatment backlog that has built up, and will the NHS become even more open to new technologies?

The existential crisis caused by Covid-19 forced the whole healthcare industry to learn new ways of working almost overnight.

Softward entrepreneurs Clive Minihan and Andrew Halliday are among the healthcare specialists who have had a busy 16 months. Predicting that the need to process Covid tests at scale would require the process to be digitised, the pair formed the startup Recova-19 in May 2020.

To date, their testing portal has facilitated the processing of more than 1.2 million tests and their team has grown to 10. The cloud-based SaaS platform application has proved so successful that the duo plan to use it to further support resilience in the health care system in the crucial areas of point of care testing and remote diagnostics with a new venture, called Personalised Diagnostics Limited (PDX).

It is intended that the new technology will be available to improve the ease of data collection and processing in clinical trials, innovative point of care diagnostic products and – building on the company founders’ existing strong connections with pharmacies and laboratories – personal genetic based tests in oncology, fertility and gastric health.

The platform has been some time in the making, being originally designed in 2012 to allow remote data collection and diagnosis for the NHS and was successfully adopted in Dermatology and Sexual Health by NHS Wales.

Last spring the pair quickly recognised that the platform’s ability to gather data remotely, store it securely, and deliver results electronically would be crucial in dealing with Covid testing. Fifteen months on, the company’s software is used by two of the top three high street pharmacy chains, employers such as Cambridge University, and most of the UK’s UKAS accredited laboratories.

The company sends all Covid testing results to Public Health England every morning. The portal has also recently been launched in Ireland. Clive says, “The success of the portal is based on Andrew’s total commitment that software has to work, be user friendly, and be constructed using agile methodology to enable adaptation for customer needs in an accelerated timeframe.”

Dr. Tony Cooke, Chief Executive of Cambridge Clinical Laboratories, explained: “Using the Recova portal has transformed the time and potential mistakes in transcribing test details. We simply check samples in using a barcode scanner and upload the results from our Laboratory Information Management System once processing is complete.

“The simplicity of the process, plus the added bonus of using the Recova software to facilitate our reporting to PHE, allows us to focus on what we do best – processing clinical samples. Without Recova we could not have successfully scaled our operations to cope with Covid as we have.”

Additionally, given the concerns around the inevitable delay in addressing the backlog, individuals may be more willing to manage their healthcare privately through accessing clinical testing in the private market and accessing their own data in a secure and confidential portal under their own control.

These are all areas that Clive and Andrew, are keen to explore and they are currently in discussion with clinical researchers, healthcare professionals and laboratories for whom remote data capture and reporting is crucial.

Clive concludes: “With a million results behind us, we’ve shown our technology can reach scale and. with Personalised Diagnostics we aim to transform outcomes in healthcare for the future. It’s a really exciting prospect for everyone.”

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