Software firm helps researchers in their fight against killer virus

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Medical researchers fighting deadly disease Hepatitis C have turned to a Hathersage firm to help them track the fate of patients.

Software company Illuminaries beat stiff competition to win the contract to develop a clinical database tracking 10,000 patients from 18 NHS trusts in England and Scotland over the next two years.

Researchers based at Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham are collecting the information as part of a £2 million research programme, funded by the Medical Research Foundation. The programme is the first national study into the treatment of the disease, which can be fatal and for which there is no vaccine.

Illuminaries was founded by Dr Tony Bennett, a research physicist who has 30 years’ experience as a software developer and 18 years experience of working on NHS systems.

The company, which is based at Hathersage Hall Business Centre and has a staff of three, beat seven other firms to win the £50,000 contract.

Bryony Wilkes, from the research team, said: “We chose Illuminaries for three reasons.

“Illuminaries has experience developing medical databases and for this project it demonstrated a good understanding of the complex challenges and of NHS information governance. It was also a very cost-effective bid.”

The Hathersage firm has faced two key challenges in developing the software.

It had to reconcile the competing needs of busy nurses who needed a straightforward tool to enter patients’ results and researchers, who needed a database that was flexible and complex.

Illuminaries also had to construct software that complied with NHS information standards and worked with its highly secure computer network firewall.