Ufonia is an artificially intelligent system that monitors health and wellness through a conversation with a medical device voice ‘chat-bot’. Ufonia can provide autonomous, automated telephone-based clinical follow-up, which is applicable to the capture of patient reported outcome measures in numerous clinical areas.

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Oxford AHSN provided support to Ufonia as part of a Innovate UK Digital Health Technology Catalyst (DHTC) feasibility grant (£75K). The project built a version of Ufonia to assess the outcome following knee-surgery using the Oxford Knee Score. Oxford AHSN provided support in developing the business model. A grant was also awarded to Ufonia under the Harwell HealthTec Cluster Proof of Concept award (£20K) that allowed the company to develop a test pilot version with a pharmaceutical partner supported by an additional £25K from STFC to work with IBM. Following successful completion of the feasibility grant, a follow-on grant has been awarded by the DHTC (£665K) which is in launch and discovery phase from April – September 2019. The project will then run until April 2021 focusing on follow-up post cataract surgery. 

How did the Innovation Exchange help?

During the feasibility study Oxford AHSN held a Lean StartUp workshop, using tools from Strategyzer, enabling Ufonia to explore potential customers and their value proposition. Oxford AHSN then introduced Ufonia to a local NHS partner trust. Several constructive meetings were held with Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust (BHT) who identified that rising demand in cataract surgery was a strategic priority and that it was extremely challenging to telephone patients post-operatively to check on them and to capture patient reported outcome measures (PROMs). Oxford AHSN also introduced Ufonia to the new Buckinghamshire HSC Ventures SME support programme. Ufonia subsequently applied and were accepted into the first cohort. Ufonia then collaborated with My Clinical Outcomes, Oxford University Innovation (OUI), Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), BHT and Oxford AHSN to bid successfully for Digital Health Technology Catalyst funding supported through the process by the Oxford AHSN team. 

Impact & Outcomes

The Oxford AHSN has been involved in the project since its early stages and has worked closely with Ufonia to explore their potential customer base, value proposition and business model through “Strategyzer” workshops, which has allowed them to clearly articulate their business model and the identify the clinical challenge that they are looking to solve. These workshops therefore allowed Ufonia to identify their beachhead market from their diverse range of potential options, and to focus on Ophthalmology in Buckinghamshire. Oxford AHSN facilitated introductory meetings to relevant clinicians and senior managers. Being part of Bucks HSC Ventures has further enabled access to clinicians, key managers and patients to further promote and validate the clinical need. 

Ufonia have received several grants for this work: 

  • Phase 1 funding of £75,000 from the Digital Health Technology Catalyst  

  • £25,000 from the STFC for feasibility testing of the initial idea (partnering with IBM) 

  • £20,000 from Harwell HealthTec which funded the building of the early prototype and further feasibility testing, which involved talking to patients and clinicians. The prototype developed here was tested on 10 Oxford Knee Score patients, enabling better capture of PROMS. 

  • £665,000 from Innovate UK, which will be used to build a fully automated system to be used in clinical practice. 

The company presented at the Bucks HSC Ventures Showcase event on 8 May 2019 as part of the first cohort alumni event. Ufonia will now use the output from the LeanStart Up process, in particular the business models generated through the Strategyzer workshops, to help leverage seed funding towards taking on five part-time employees.