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umotif Support NHS Study In The Fight Against Covid-19

From the likes of Captain Sir Tom Moore raising over £32 million for the NHS, to local schools 3D printing PPE kits for healthcare and key workers, many stories of hope and positivity have emerged over the past months. People from all walks of life have rallied together to try and beat the Covid-19 virus.

Rightly so, the work of the life sciences industry has also been picked up by mainstream media. This global pandemic has brought unprecedented collaborations and partnerships amongst large pharmaceutical companies and academic institutions in the race to find a vaccine.

Away from the spotlight of developing a vaccine there are many other valuable innovations taking place. One such project is managed by Dr Afroze Khan, an Ear, Nose, and Throat Surgeon at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Foundation Trust Hospital. Dr Khan is undertaking novel research in the pursuit of protecting his NHS team and preventing further transmission of the virus within hospital wards.

Due to the highly infectious nature of Covid-19 the transmission of the virus is thought to be similar to that of influenza, which can be transferred through droplets released when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks. Dr Khan, aware of previous studies proving that nasal rinsing and mouth washes can be a vital method in delivering treatments to reduce the amount of a virus that reaches other parts of the body, is trialling the same concept with Covid-19.

Dr Khan is undertaking a 4 – 6 month study to investigate whether using sinus rinses and mouth washes, containing PVP-I (Povidone Iodine), reduces viral colonisation of the oropharynx in people who test positive with Covid-19. Reducing and removing the virus from an individual's mouth and nose would therefore limit the spread of infection within a household.

To limit the risk of transmitting the virus within the hospital, if a staff member tests positive, he or she is required to monitor their symptoms remotely while self-isolating at home. For this to happen a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) strategy is required to capture the essential study data. Khan selected umotif to power this critical decentralised trial. Through enabling members of his team to track their Covid symptoms, via the highly engaging uMotif data capture app on their own smart devices, Khan can investigate his primary research question while keeping others safe.

Another important factor in choosing to work with umotif is the speed in which the study needed to go live. The study was built and configured in a matter of weeks. Within three weeks NHS staff testing positive with Covid at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Foundation Trust Hospital were able to track their symptoms using the simple and easy to use motif interface.

“The umotif platform is beautifully designed and serves our study needs very well. We needed to implement a fully virtual approach and at rapid speed", says Dr Khan. “Not only does the umotif technology facilitate this but their team partners in such a collaborative way our trial was able to go live within three weeks".

The motif, made up of 10 segments, enables participants to track 10 Covid-related symptoms: fatigue and muscle ache, nausea, dry cough, shortness of breath, fever, loss of taste/smell, runny nose, sore throat, diarrhoea, and headache. As well as tracking symptoms the app includes medication adherence questions so the doctors can keep track of which participants use the sinus rinse and mouth wash.

In addition to the remote data capture the trial onboarding and instructions also needed to be virtual. Dr Khan and his team produced a Youtube video to educate and guide people through the necessary steps. Although a small team, they have demonstrated what can be achieved when starting a trial using a virtual and digitised design.

The trial is due to run through August 2020 and the team are already seeing early signs of success. Results for patients, who have a low viral load, using both treatments have eradicated the virus within 48 hours. Hopefully this trial will open the door to preventing the transmission of Covid-19.