Life saving tech for epilepsy suffers built by Bristol-based Tap2Tag

Tap2Tag's founder Chris Ford tells us about the simple wearable solution that allows medics and emergency services instant access to patient's life saving medical information
1st June 2017

According to the charity Epilepsy UK, there are 600,000 sufferers of epilepsy in the UK alone – a neurological condition that can cause life-threatening fits and seizures.

With each case holding its own unique medical history and medication, it can be difficult for those who suffer frequent seizures to get the right help from emergency services – especially if the situation is urgent and they do not have friends or family present.

“We know that we have been responsible for saving five lives and we suspect there are many more”

 

For Bristol-based Tap2Tag‘s Founder Chris Ford (pictured right), the need for a solution was inspired by his 87-year-old mother who suffers from seizures that require ambulance assistance every few months. As he tells us: “The first question [paramedics] always asked was “what is her current medication?” We used to type this up, print it off and pin it to a noticeboard in the kitchen. That was fine for us as we lived very close, but what would happen if we lived further away or she was at the shops and an ambulance was called?”

Keen to remedy the situation Chris created Tap2Tag, a clever but simple tech solution in the form of a wristband that transmits the sufferer’s medical information to any NFC-enabled mobile device with a quick touch.

With the product now on the shelf and a userbase on the rise, we caught up with Chris and one of Tap2Tag’s users and epilepsy awareness activist Sam Downie to find out more.

Life-saving information on tap

Tap2Tag works by using a type of wireless connection called ‘near field communication’ (NFC). The user can upload their emergency medical details onto the wristband and it can then be used with any NFC-enabled device that has access to the internet, anywhere in the world. This lets paramedics and other health professionals gain access to the information quickly and efficiently.

You can find out more about how Tap2Tag could work in an emergency in the video below:

 

But unlike many other solutions on the market, it was built with the idea of helping people at its heart. As Chris explains: “Never before have I ever come across a product where the customers are such a major influence on spreading the word about what we do. The market has been dominated by one large organisation for the last 50 years. Everyone else entering the market follows the same strategy, sell a product and then charge a subscription.

“However, those who buy our products often have complex medical conditions and are also at the lower end of the income bracket. As a result, paying £20-£30 per year for a subscription means that sometimes they have to put themselves at risk when they cannot afford these costs. We do not charge a subscription for our Tap2Tag medical devices and customers can update their profiles as much as they like.”

Tap2Tag advocates

For Sam Downie, an epilepsy awareness advocate who found out about the Tap2Tag system at a Bristol Epilepsy Support Social Group talk delivered by Chris, the system has been a real success.

He tells us: “As a geek, I wanted to try it out. As a person with epilepsy, I thought it would be of beneficial use to me and my health. I wanted to find out if it would be better than the metal medical alert bracelet I carry with me, that has a piece of paper rolled up inside.

“I can say it’s a really safe service to use, better than what the NHS offers and quicker to get to in an emergency”

 

“The benefits have been great. I have bought three and each does a different job. One of them is my main go to medical ID. The others I use as demos to show off the use to others.

“Another key benefit has been that I’ve been able to keep an eye on who has access to my medical data and who has read it via this service. I can say it’s a really safe service to use, better than what the NHS offers and quicker to get to in an emergency.

“When I had a seizure in public and a paramedic recognised the Medical ID on the Tap2Tag he tapped it with his NFC-enabled phone to get my medical details and it worked! It’s a great, cheap and a very worthwhile device to be used as a medical ID.”

However, Sam’s not the only one who has benefited from Tap2Tag. Chris says: “We know that we have been responsible for saving five lives and we suspect there are many more. It is also great to hear how our little bands have changed lives.

“I received this email out of the blue one day and it suddenly hit me what we were doing to help. The peace of mind that our devices provide to those with medical conditions as well as their family members is quite astonishing and humbling.”

Not just epilepsy

Although Tap2Tag was inspired by the desire to help sufferer’s of epilepsy, it can also be used by those suffering from severe allergies, other medical conditions including asthma and for those taking part in risky or extreme sports – particularly given that it is very hard wearing and waterproof too.

“We launched our new Pet Tag system about 4 weeks ago, which works on the same principals”

 

So it’s exciting to hear that Tap2Tag is developing more products to help even more people (and pets too). As Chris tells us: “We are currently working on developing a new adjustable silicone wristband for launch in the Autumn of 2017. We are also updating the designs for our key fobs that will also contain a QR code – for use by iPhone.

“We launched our new Pet Tag system (pictured left) about 4 weeks ago, which works on the same principals. Priced at £9.99 these allow pet owners to store all of the important information about their pets including their pet insurance details, internal chip number, medical conditions and emergency contacts. We also have some secret stuff coming out later this year.”

Health tech collaboration

As previously shown, the South West is becoming an amazing hub for health tech in the UK. For Chris, being part of this hub and based in Bristol has been incredibly beneficial. As he explains: “Over the last 12 months we have been looking at further collaborations. Two companies that met our requirements are both based in Bristol. This is not a coincidence.”

“One company with whom we have been talking is Care Calls, owned by Jamie Cole. He set up some software when he was just 17 to help his grandmother remember to take her medication.”

For those that are inspired by Chris and the Tap2Tag mission to help save lives across the UK and beyond, Chris tells us: “We have over 120 people registered on our leaflet distribution list. Each month we get in touch to ask if they need any leaflets and people hand them out to their patients or leave them in medical facilities. These are mainly healthcare professionals and they do this as they believe in the product and what we are trying to do. If people want to sign up they can visit the Tap2Tag website.”

Thanks to Chris and Sam for taking the time to chat to us about Tap2Tag. You can find out more by visiting the Tap2Tag website or following them on Twitter here: @Tap2Tag.