Jersey and the Medtech SMEDecember 10, 2015
I had been to Guernsey many times before my first visit to Jersey in 2014, following an invitation from Dr Andrew Mitchell, one of the Cardiologists at St Helier’s General Hospital.
I met Dr Mitchell at the Heart Rhythm Congress the previous year. I was open minded about what or whom I would find, but went into the first meeting with local GPs and clinicians with some scepticism. What could Jersey offer me that mainland UK could not?
My first impression was of a community who not only all knew each other, but who all worked together. More importantly, this was an actively engaged community, a meeting of like minded people, who are open to ideas. There was a noted absence of sucking through teeth. Within weeks of that initial meeting we had a plan in place to roll out a system to one GP, this was a simple cardiac screening service, located in reception.
Just 12 months later, we have much grander ambitions of screening the entire island.
Once the relationship had been established, help and support was forthcoming in clinically evaluating our next-gen technology. We ran a 250-person evaluation in just 48 hours with ethical approval, by piggy backing on an island-wide proactive health screening event. To put that into context; working in the NHS in England, this would have taken us around 10 weeks just to get ethical clearance. This would mean registering the trial on two different registers and involving a huge number of people, who may not actually have been there during the trial, simply to put ticks in the boxes. The speed in which we have been able to move forward with testing in Jersey is unparalleled.
On mainland UK, bureaucracy and localism is rife. A medtech SME trying to sell new technology to our domestic market, NHS England, is faced with the daunting task of having to sell through 221 Clinical Commissioning Groups and that’s not including Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland! That’s some Salesforce wage bill for any SME.
Gaining the evidence of efficacy or equivalency for any medical device is key to gaining clinical champions, which in turn leads to sales. Let’s be clear, we have not sold any product to Jersey, but we have found a test bed environment. A place where we can work. In Jersey, we have clinicians who are proactive, not reactive, government health services that are actually accessible and interested and the perfect location to test and trial our ideas, which all adhere to the local ethics and legal framework.
Working with Jersey has been ideal, the positivity, access and speed of movement is second to none. It’s worth the fortnightly commute, as we are able to fit into the island’s health economy and diary, but the benefits to us are really in the clinical advice support and development coupled with an enviable access to investment capital.
Percentage-wise, there are far fewer healthcare start ups in the UK compared to the US. The rationale for this is simple; the local environment. Mainland UK provides a restrictive bureaucratic environment, whereas Jersey breaks that down and provides a simple island test environment with the perfect balance of regulation, population, clinical experience and capital.
Chris Crockford is CEO at Cardiocity Limited, a certified manufacturer of medical devices, with a particular focus on cardiac screening.