British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) member Alert-iT is an assistive care technology specialist offering a range of epilepsy monitors, fall detectors, dementia care solutions, incontinence support items, and pagers and logging.
BHTA recently caught up with Rick Gunn, Operations Director at Alert-iT, to learn more about how the company started, what it offers, and how the BHTA provides invaluable support.
BHTA: Can you give us some background on yourself and how Alert-iT started?
Rick: “I have been with Alert-iT for almost 10 years now; May 2023 will be my tenth year! Before that, I was Global Supply Chain Leader for a UK-based business owned by General Electric.
“My background has been in operations, team management, material logistics, and project management for around 20 years.
“I was working as a consultant when I had a phone call from the founder of Alert-iT; he had heard of me as we had both worked in the same industry. He asked me to come and have a look at his growing business. I came on board as a consultant product manager and within a few months I was asked if I wanted to join Alert-iT permanently as a director.
“I fell in love with the business very quickly to be honest with you! The job had a real ‘feel-good’ factor to it right from the start. When we are more successful, it means that we are helping more people, making their life easier, and making the lives of carers less stressful, through the use of our technology.”
BHTA: Has Alert-iT launched any new products recently?
Rick: “Alert-iT has just released a new version of a general bed alarm. The Alert-iT P163 Bed Alarm is used to support a person whilst in bed or chair, alarming if they leave.
“The alarm uses a range of sensors to suit a wide range of situations by placing them on or under the mattress, on a chair, or on the floor. The P163 automatically alarms differently if it detects a bed and chair sensor or floor mat.
“It has an easy-to-press button located on the front, so a person can call for help, whilst also having the capability for the carer to escalate the call to urgent if they require assistance. The caregiver is notified of an event via either the Alert-iT failsafe pager or connecting to an existing nurse call system.
“Having a dual input gives the user more ways to call for assistance. For example, input 1 can be timed for bed occupancy while input 2 can have an easy-to-reach wired call button. Alternatively, if there are two beds or chairs near to each other it can monitor two users at the same time.
“The P163 is specially designed so it can pick up each person individually and send separate alarms.”
BHTA: It must be a great feeling to know that your company is helping to improve people’s lives.
Rick: “For sure. There is a huge emotional element to what we do on a regular basis, either through an email, a social media post, or a phone conversation that can quite often start off as a support call where someone has an issue with some operational product settings can become an in-depth conversation about their situation. I have often sat back and got quite emotional about it.
“Because you are involving yourself in people’s lives, and, for example, if you are speaking with a mum and dad about their son or daughter – I’m a dad – you are almost transporting yourself into their situation, into their lives, and you gain a small perception as to what their life must be like and what they are going through.
“Then when they tell you that your equipment is helping them in such a massive way, that’s a hugely emotional thing to be a part of. It’s very powerful to hear how you have helped.”
BHTA: Customer support must play a large role in Alert-iT.
Rick: “It does, and that is why we invest heavily in customer support. It is a huge part of our brand, which is why it is important to us to get customer feedback. Our commitment to customers is incredibly important to us.”
BHTA: What is Alert-iT’s plans for the future?
Rick: “Our plans are to complete the release of our new P200 Range of monitors as a Class IIA medical device to provide better support to carers of those with epilepsy.”
BHTA: What are the benefits of becoming a BHTA member?
Rick: “We were members after seeing that a competitor was a BHTA member, and we thought ‘that seems like something we should be doing’. When we first signed up, we had recently completed our ISO 34/35 medical standard. When you look at what requirements are needed to be a BHTA member and use your branding on a product, those were all things that we were already doing!
“So at that stage, the main benefit was in having the BHTA branding associated with our products for customers to see and for positive marketing.
“[Some of the main benefits are] tapping into the BHTA’s expertise, your ability to understand the bigger picture of what is going on in the industry, and also your ‘clout’. When the BHTA speaks up, it means more than when a smaller company speaks up.
“From a regulatory and an MHRA point of view, it means that issues we, as smaller companies, can become a big deal and that the issues need to be dealt with in a significant way.”
BHTA: How has the BHTA supported Alert-iT?
Rick: “We have had some amazing support from David Stockdale (BHTA CEO) and William Lee (BHTA Head of Policy and Compliance) with some problems that we have been having!
“In fact, it was when David Stockdale asked if there was anything that the BHTA could help with at our trade stand at an event in Dusseldorf that led to us asking for some advice.
“That conversation has meant that we have had some amazing support from the BHTA, which has really blown us away. In particular, the time we have had to speak to William Lee has been such an eye-opener for us. He is such a force and is so passionate as well that after speaking with him you really do feel like this guy has got your back.
“The fact that he and Kathryn Vaughan, BHTA Membership Engagement Manager, came down on a train to meet with us for what was actually a very short meeting just shows the commitment that the BHTA has to help its members.
“Also, William Lee has provided invaluable insights and support with our dealings with the MHRA regarding the MHRA decision to re-classify our core products to Class IIA devices. William Lee attended our site when our local MP came to visit to discuss the lack of support from the MHRA.
“When something goes wrong, that’s when you need support, and that is where being a BHTA member has proved to be vital for us.”
To find out more about how the BHTA can support your business and how to become a BHTA member, visit this page.