Belfast medtech TriMedika is delivering safer healthcare through its non-contact thermometer technology.
A young Belfast company has created a game-changing non-contact thermometer that could help deliver safer healthcare across the world.
TriMedika has developed a technology that provides greater accuracy while also reducing infection risks in a medical setting. And a new generation wireless version could set in train opportunities in remote healthcare.
“The more we have spent time in hospitals and worked with the nurses, we know how much pressure they are under and how much they do for the patients and it’s important to give them the right tools to do that”
The company’s flagship technology TriteMP is a medical-grade non-contact thermometer that is used by thousands of hospitals worldwide.
It is safe and effective for more than 40,000 measurements compared with traditional thermometers that barely last more than a few thousand measurements due to broken caps and that can often also be a source of contamination.
The digital future of health
“Our technology is completely contactless,” explained Róisín Molloy, CEO and co-founder of TriMedika who I meet at the Catalyst Innovation Hub in Belfast. The young firm is part of the Catalyst community and has taken part in various programmes, including its popular CEO Connect programme and its Ways to Scale programme. “You literally point it at the forehead, press a button and you get the result.”
Currently more than 900 entrepreneurs are working with Catalyst across various programmes. Some 2,700 tech professionals work between Derry and Belfast and a community of 570 business mentors and experts are collaborating with start-ups and scale-ups.
Molloy explained that the Belfast business has created a technology where accuracy and robustness is paramount. The key, she said, is the technology. “The device has an algorithm on the chip that converts the reading to an internal body temperature. We’ve conducted tests where its accuracy is as good as an oesophageal probe in terms of accuracy.”
Since the pandemic the young company’s technology has seen a spike in demand in surgical wards, recovery wards, ICUs, paediatric wards and neonatal wards. “There are all situations where infections are very important in terms of patient outcomes. We have seen them being used as an entry point to hospitals and more.”
Molloy is a biochemistry PhD who graduated from Queen’s University and worked in the medtech sector for more than 25 years, working with hospitals and clinics all over the world. Her co-founder is Julie Brien, chief operations officer, who has also worked in the medtech sector, and is something of a languages expert. Molloy’s husband Paul is the chief financial officer of TriMedika.
Spark of genius
She explained how the inspiration for TriMedika came witnessing her late sister’s annoyance at traditional thermometers while undergoing cancer treatment. “She said at the time ‘surely Roisin technology-wise there is something you can do’.
“Our new generation of connected devices will open a whole new range of markets for us”
“And that’s what sparked me to look at how infra-red technologies worked and how by improving how the algorithms worked we could make a difference.”
A deep dive into R&D led to Molloy and Brien developing a device that was ergonomic for nurses and doctors to use but also ergonomic. It is also a platform that new capabilities can be added.
“Accuracy and robustness are the main differentiators,” Molloy explained, pointing out how one hospital she spoke to was replacing on average 350 thermometers a year. “The asset tracking, the management and maintenance, all cause huge headaches. So we pride ourselves on making life easier for medical practitioners and their patients. And it’s due to the accuracy and robustness of our technology.”
Molloy and Brien founded TriMedika in 2016 and by 2017 the first devices were ready for market. As well as manufacturing the devices, the goal was to be included on approved frameworks for hospital procurement. Key to this was Molloy’s own experience of selling into the medical world as a head of marketing for medtech organisations but also the network of engineers and manufacturing experts she cultivated during her time in the industry.
The devices are made by an Irish manufacturing business with a presence in Poland.
Another critical goal was achieving official validation in the form of a CE Mark as well as ISO 13485:2016 certification. “We are audited every year by the certification bodies and that means we can ensure the quality of everything we do.”
Her late sister remains a driving force for the business. “When I sat in front of my sister I couldn’t changer her world at that point, but I bloody well can change it for everybody else that comes after her.
“The more we have spent time in hospitals and worked with the nurses, we know how much pressure they are under and how much they do for the patients and it’s important to give them the right tools to do that.”
Molloy said that TriMedika has been bringing in revenues from day one and the company has been investing its profits back into the business to create new products and services, including a cloud system for securely transferring readings and cutting down the administrative burden for health workers.
TriMedika now sells its thermometer platform across Europe as well as to South Africa and Australia and has ambitions to sell into the US.
Catalyst in Belfast, Molloy says, plays a pivotal role in supporting the Northern Ireland tech sector. “It is like network central and brings in people from lots of different areas. It gives us a forum to interact and learn from others. So the first thing is the network. The second thing is the knowledge from all the various sectors that are here. People are happy to share there knowledge on matters such as commercial or regulatory issues.
“That’s what we get from Catalyst, a whole group of companies from different industries with people with lots of different levels of experience. We also get to take part in their various programmes, such as CEO Connect which brings together CEOs from all sorts of SMEs from all around Northern Ireland. It’s very important for people to come together and have discussions on everything from Covid to Brexit.”
There’s a strong sustainability message behind what TriMedika are looking to achieve from both an environmental stand-point but also financially – the devices last longer and rarely break.
Looking to the future, Molloy wants to provide hospitals and clinics with accurate, hygienic and robust thermometers.
She also sees an opportunity to meet an emerging trend of ‘virtual wards’ whereby patients are able to test themselves at home and provide nurses and doctors with the results digitally. “When the patient presses that button the data will go directly to their records.
“Our new generation of connected devices will open a whole new range of markets for us.”
Main image at top: Róisín Molloy, co-founder and CEO of TriMedika