We spoke to Krishan Ramdoo, CEO and Founder of GovStart company TympaHealth to find out more about how their technology is helping patients with their hearing.
What does TympaHealth as a company do and why did you embark on this venture?
TympaHealth is a multi-award-winning company united by a vision of helping the world to hear. We are an NHS spin-out and have developed the world’s first all-in-one hearing health assessment system. I am a front-line clinician and ENT surgeon by training and I could see first-hand how challenging it was for patients to access ear and hearing health services. Patient pathways are often convoluted, with multiple referrals having to take place before they reach the right specialist. On average it takes someone 5-7 years to seek help about their hearing from the point they first notice it. I kept thinking there had to be a better way. If I look back, there was likely one patient who I met very early in my medical career which was perhaps the “lightbulb moment”. It was a 79 year old lady who came into hospital for an infection unrelated to her hearing. She received treatment for the infection, yet she still seemed confused and was not engaging with us as her medical team. Her family also said that over the last year she had slowly become more isolated from them. As a budding ENT surgeon, I decided to look in her ears. They were full of wax! I wheeled her down to the ENT department myself, removed the wax and arranged for her to have a hearing test. This revealed age related hearing loss. She had a hearing aid fitted and when I followed up she was a completely different person and was planning her 80th birthday party.
What does the Tympa System do and how does it help patients?
The innovative Tympa system was designed to uphold and support the key objectives set out within the NHS Long Term Plan. The Long Term Plan outlines the need for improving “out of hospital” care and provide better links between primary and secondary care settings. There is a focus on supporting people living in care homes and bringing care closer to home as well as working within a primary care framework.
The Tympa system allows allied health professionals to deliver a mobile ear and hearing health clinic within the community, streamlining patient pathways and better facilitating access to care. The device combines a digital otoscope, micro suction wax removal and a hearing screener. The Tympa can capture high resolution images and video of the ear drum which can be shared with specialists anywhere in the world. This telemedicine capability is particularly important for people who live in more isolated parts of the world where specialist care is unavailable. In time, our machine learning algorithm will help diagnose conditions of the ear and help clinicians identify abnormalities and detect hearing loss. We are developing one of the largest ear and hearing health databases in the world.
A key aspect of the Tympa System is that it facilitates the removal of ear wax via the traditional hospital method of
micro-suction. On average, 3.9% of the UK population require management of ear wax each year. However, unfortunately the current waiting time to receive wax removal services in the NHS is 12-16 weeks. If people are able to access these services within the community, not only are patients receiving the care they need quicker and easier, it lessens the overall strain on NHS resources and reduces footfall in hospitals. This is particularly important in the current climate.
What makes Tympa stand out from the crowd?
We are the world’s first all-in-one ear & hearing health assessment system. The Tympa solution brings together three different diagnostic and treatment systems into one; otoscopy, micro-suction and a hearing screener. We always strive to maintain the highest standards in hardware and software design, as well as the training programmes we provide. Allied health professionals who want to use Tympa have to go through our TympaHealth Training Academy which is ENT UK and British Society of Audiology accredited. We also promote continued professional development through our learning management system. This comprehensive method of learning, with this level of accreditation, is unique in this sector. What’s more, we also have a strong focus on research and have a bi-monthly meetings as part of the TympaHealth institute for Research. This is where clinicians from different backgrounds all over the country join to discuss collaborations on any research related to ear and hearing health. We collectively use this forum to discuss new ideas and ensure everything that we do is evidence based. We have recently had a request from an ENT surgeon from Harvard wanting to join the meeting! It is initiatives like this which aim to help us stand out from the crowd and ultimately provide the best ear and hearing health services for patients across the globe.
How did Covid-19 affect your business?
Covid-19 brought with it challenges for all companies. However, in the era of telemedicine, TympaHealth’s review platform offers the ability for patients to be virtually assessed outside of the hospital setting with the help of remote specialists. We demonstrated this capability in the midst of the pandemic by working with University College Hospital London to help their ENT consultants see their patients remotely in a community setting. On the back of that a business case has been put in for a formal UK-first tele-otology/tele-audiology service. This is just one example of how we have been able to showcase the benefits of Tympa. And, with the new adapted way of working in healthcare, we have seen an increase in demand for the system.
Why did you join GovStart and what are you hoping to learn from the programme?
TympaHealth has benefited from some good traction in the private sector both locally and internationally. The company is a product of the NHS and with what GovStart stand for in helping companies to engage and aim for adoption in the public sector it felt like a natural fit. The mentors on the program will be a fantastic asset and source of knowledge of how to navigate the system and present Tympa in a way that can facilitate uptake by the public sector. Ultimately, adoption of TympaHealth services by the public sector will be beneficial for both patients and the public sector itself. Patients will have quicker and easier access to ear and hearing health services, and the NHS will benefit from a time and cost saving. We are also looking forward to joining the GovStart community and share ideas with other teams and learn from each other.
What are Tympa’s next steps and plans for the future?
There are a number of promising projects in the pipeline. Our global ear and hearing health database is growing and our pioneering AI/Machine learning capabilities are progressing. Eventually, the AI we develop will aid clinicians in assisted diagnoses and predictions for health. We are already working on version 3 of our product which will have some exciting new features – so watch this space!
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