Posted on November 27, 2019 by staff

The billion-pound medical problem solved with a sensor


Drinking enough water may seem like a low priority for those that are ill.

However each year in the UK more than 40,000 people die of preventable hydration-related illnesses.

That figure led Rebecca Taylor, the co-founder of Aquarate, to think about a tech-powered solution.

“In hospitals, one of the big problems is that although fluid balance (data on a patient’s water intake) is monitored, it’s a manual process. It’s all paper-based and it’s really inaccurate,” she told BusinessCloud.

“There’s only so much training to do before you have to actually create an accurate system that will get people engaged. That’s what I’m really hoping to do.”

Taylor is in the first stages of unveiling the firm’s ‘smart mug’, designed with patients of all kinds in mind – it is light, dementia-friendly and has a lid for those who might otherwise struggle to drink on their own.

Crucially the device and its accompanying software records all the fluids consumed over a 24-hour period using in-built sensors.

The hope is that the sensors can save medical professionals time, increase accuracy and reduce the more than one billion pounds spent annually treating dehydration.

Previously a product design and engineering student in Liverpool, Taylor became interest in medical tech and said she saw the gap within medical technology.

Before graduating in 2017, she attended a hackathon set up by The AHSN Network and shared the problem of dehydration.

Working with 14 clinicians, a prototype was created and Taylor met Olivia Greenberg, chief growth officer at start-up accelerator Nova.

Taylor said the accelerator filled some of the gaps in her knowledge and would go on to provide marketing and financial advice, and ultimately validate the invention as a business.

Next on the firm’s roadmap is ensuring that the AQi Fluid Intake System does not add more software to the growing list being tackled by medical professionals.

Instead, Aquarate is working toward creating an API so that the fluid balance data can be integrated into existing systems.

“What we’re offering is service for whatever level of technology they have,” she said. “Organisations can then choose to integrate that data wherever they need it.”

In the coming months Taylor said the API would be ready to launch following trials at Liverpool Royal, Aintree Hospital and Southampton Hospital.

It has also carried out a trial with a care home in the Wirral as well as a dementia care home.

Aquarate recently hired a marketing manager and is looking to bring on board a product development hire soon as it gears up the product for market.

Taylor said the most positive part of the job was the feedback she had received.

“The biggest thing for me is that as I’m speaking to potential users, they are giving feedback and they’re positive and they want to join on this journey as I’m developing,” she said.

Any healthcare professionals interested in a product demonstration should get in touch via the Aquarate website.