Find out more about the story of MedicCom and the support provided by KTN’s Health Team, which has enabled them to secure funding from Innovate UK.

MedicCom is a communications device which enhances communication by clinical staff when wearing PPE. Worldwide, clinicians have found that enhanced respiratory PPE makes speaking to patients and colleagues difficult. MedicCom is an electronic device, which uses a throat microphone to pick up sound from outside of a PPE mask. The device acts as: (1) a voice amplifier to enable a clinician to be easily heard by the patient and the clinical team around the patient; (2) a Bluetooth headset enabling clear communication through a mobile phone for calls to the patient’s relatives and to clinical colleagues; and (3) as a ‘walk up and plug in’ device to connect to a hospital internal telephone system.

Early in the pandemic, Prof. Mehdi Tavakoli from the KTN Health Team had a telephone conversation with Prof. Tim Coats from the University of Leicester. Prof. Coats had experienced first-hand the difficulty in communication while wearing a face mask and had devised an initial prototype solution. Prof. Tavakoli reviewed and short-listed several potential approaches with Prof Coats and contacted the Project Pitlane group of Formula One racing engineers, as they had previously worked on the UK Government’s ‘Ventilator Challenge’.

Prof. Mehdi Tavakoli introduced Prof Tim Coats to Andy Damerum and Bob Bell from Project Pitlane, along with their colleague, Jason Rees from Innova Technology. The team was enlarged to include Dr Emma Chung (Reader in Medical Physics at the University of Leicester) and Jasdip Mangat, Edward Pallett and Paul Doolan (Clinical Engineering at University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust). The team also included a technology transfer specialist, Carl Edwards from the University of Leicester.

With Prof. Tavakoli as a co-applicant and member of the project management team, a grant application was submitted through the UKRI Covid-19 funding stream to Innovate UK. This application was successful, and a production ready prototype device was created in just 6 months. Prof. Tavakoli agreed to support the preparation of a Case Study by KTN about this project at the final project meeting. Prof. Tim Coats is an emergency physician, previous chair of the NIHR National Specialist Group for Injuries and Emergencies, and current chair of the Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN).

KTN spoke with Prof. Tim Coats to find out more about MedicCom and how KTN helped the project’s development. Please click here to read the case study in full.