MedTech Innovator, the medtech industry’s annual start-up competition and virtual accelerator, has just announced their 20 semi-finalists. 430 companies from around the globe applied for these coveted spots, and were reviewed by 90 reviewers from 50 different companies. These ground-breaking semi-finalists will undergo a four month virtual accelerator before attending AdvaMed 2016. There, four finalists will be selected to present and compete for $250,000 in cash prizes, with the winner being selected by audience vote. In addition, throughout the year there will be additional awards given in three areas: Value, Execution, and Momentum. During every round of MedTech Innovator we go over each company, in alphabetical order, to give our readers some insight into what makes these technologies so exciting. Here we go…
Adhesys Medical: Surgical sealants can be used in a variety of situations. Materials-wise there are two major players at the moment: cyanoacrylate derivatives (similar to superglue), are most commonly used to close skin wounds, while fibrin glues are used for a variety of situations within the body such as dural tears during spinal surgery. Both of these compounds have some disadvantages. Adhesys is looking to disrupt the current market with a novel, patented synthetic bioabsorbable poly-urethane based adhesive. Their solution is reportedly stronger, works better in wet environments, and lasts 20 days.
Adient Medical: Pulmonary embolism is a concerningly common, potentially fatal condition in which a clot travels from the systemic vasculature through the inferior vena cava where it can then lodge into the pulmonary vasculature. Patients at risk can be identified. These at risk patients are treated with chemical thromboprophylaxis and sometimes even with the implantation of an IVC filter, a physical net that catches clots as they float by before they can make it to the lungs. While IVC filters can be effective they also have some drawbacks. Over time they can actually be a source of thrombi themselves, pieces can fragment off, or they can occlude bloodflow. For this reason they are often retrieved after a period of time, which in itself carries some risk and cost. Adient Medical looks to address this problem by developing an absorbable IVC filter. This would allow the benefits of temporary thrombus filtration and then avoid the need for costly and risky retrieval procedures.
Augmedics LTD: This company is developing an augmented reality headset dubbed “The ViZOR” that, when combined with 3D reconstructed cross sectional imaging such as a CT scan combined with surgical navigation techniques, can project images of the patient’s anatomy, such as the spine, in such a way that it appears that the surgeon is “seeing through” the patient. Furthermore, the system can make suggestions such as where and at what angle to place implants such as pedicle screws. The company has ambitious goals for its technology to include deep learning elements in addition to some robotics applications.
C-SATS, Inc.: Recently there has been increasing interest in objectively evaluating surgical performance. No one had ever even really examined whether improved technical skill in the operating room leads to improved patient outcomes until a study in 2013 which confirmed this intuitive hypothesis. Unfortunately, there is no way currently other than by word of mouth for patients to know how able their surgeon is. Furthermore, once surgeons are out of training there is really very little objective feedback for their performance. C-SATS seeks to provide a low cost and highly innovative solution to this problem. They crowd-source a multitude of “qualified reviewers,” who may not necessarily have medical backgrounds, to review surgical video feeds and grade them objectively. This creative thinking actually was proven scientifically in a pilot study using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which can be read here (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24555877)
Catalia Health: Mabu is a personal healthcare companion/robot being developed by Catalia Health that is the basis of their patient engagement platform. Mabu has voice recognition capabilities, and also has a tablet which can be used for display and input. The platform also integrates with your smartphone to provide alerts such as medication reminders.
Cor: Using a patented vibration spectroscopy method Cor has created a home blood chemistry system marketed as a personal wellness product. In this fashion they hope to bypass FDA regulatory requirements for their initial offering. They have already raised in excess of $100k on their Indiegogo campaign. The interesting technology uses disposable cartridges to extract a drop of blood from the skin on the arm, which is described as painless. The cartridge is then inserted into a reusable reader which transfers the results to the platform. Over time the trends and patterns are recognized by the system and wellness recommendations are made such as specifics regarding diet and exercise.
Echo Labs: Wrist mounted wellness trackers have been very popular lately, but their function remained somewhat limited with most only being able to detect steps, heart-rate and sometimes O2 level. Echo labs has created a revolutionary optical tracker that can detect heart-rate, blood pressure, O2 level, pH, and CO2. Their technology is made possible by a highly complex and proprietary algorithm. It will be exciting to see how they market the device and what use cases they develop.
Green Sun Medical: Green sun has an exciting, although somewhat mysterious, technology that may fundamentally alter the way we currently brace children with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. While previously controversial it is now widely accepted and scientifically proven that compliant bracing can prevent the progression of scoliosis to the point of requiring a highly invasive and costly surgery. The braces, however, are time consuming to produce, can be uncomfortable for patients, and sometimes can cause problems such as pressure sores. Braces have improved through recent technological advances such as 3D scanning and sensors to confirm they are being worn. However, the braces are built around a single snapshot in time, and they are only checked and adjusted at typically 4 to 6 month intervals. Green Sun Medical seeks to completely change the way we brace scoliosis curve utilizing pressure sensors and dynamically adjustable braces. The brace can adjust itself on the fly or with manual input, theoretically leading to not only improved correction but proper fit for the entirety of the gap between follow-ups. It can also decrease the frequency of complications such as pressure sores, and hopefully increase compliance by making the brace more comfortable. The technology has the backing of major names in the world of pediatric orthopaedics and is definitely something to keep an eye on.
Intensix: Thanks to big data technology Intensix has created a predictive analytic system that can detect when a patient in an ICU setting begins to deteriorate in real-time. The system can reduce costs and can improve clinical outcomes. It is currently live at Tel Aviv Medical Center, Israel.
IntuiTap: Lumbar punctures are can be a technically challenging procedure, sometimes taking more than 2 hours when it should take about 30 minutes. Repeated taps and lengthy procedures can lead to serious complications such as bleeding, pain, infection or dural leak. IntuiTap looks to streamline the entire process through multiple innovative and exciting ways. Currently most performers of LPs palpate bony landmarks with their fingers, which can be inaccurate in patients of certain body habitus or less skilled providers. Intuitap has developed a proprietary “palpation” system that can provide a digital representation of the bony anatomy of the patient’s lumbar spine and in addition make recommendations for insertion location and angle. The system includes an in-line pressure transducer which makes measuring the opening pressure faster, more accurate and less prone to contamination. Finally the system has a patented fluid collection system which is easier to use and reportedly less prone to contamination.
Linear Health Sciences: IV catheters are often accidentally snagged during day-to-day hospital activity, sometimes leading to painful unintentional removal of the catheter from the body. Much like the Apple MacBook’s magnetic breakaway power connectors, linear health science has a similar concept in their OrchidValve. This device attaches to a standard IV luer lock connector in-line with standard IV tubing. If the cord is snagged the tubing will breakaway harmlessly, leaving the catheter in place. A new valve is then placed and the IV can be restarted without another catheter placement procedure, saving the hospital time and money and saves the patient from the discomfort of repeated IV attempts.
Madorra: Vaginal dryness is a significant issue that affects post-menopausal women, breast cancer survivors and others. Madorra is a team out of Stanford’s Biodesign program, and their solution is a non-hormonal, natural, physiologic lubrication device to combat this issue.
PreDxion Bio: MicroKine is a point-of-care diagnostic system developed by PreDxion Bio that can measure plasma cytokines in 30 minutes from a single drop of blood. The system is designed for use in an ICU setting where rapid changes in management can be made for the most critically ill patients thanks to this technology.
SafeHeal: Patients who require a resection of the colon often sometimes receive a diverting colostomy, where the proximal colon is brought up to the skin so that the colonic contents can exit the body through an ostomy, often collected in a pouch. In this way the anastomotic site, where the healthy colon ends were re-attached, is protected from fecal contents and allowed to heal. This procedure is uncomfortable for the patient, carries complications, and also has social stigma and emotional impact. SafeHeal has developed a device, dubbed ColoVac, that seeks to completely avoid the need for a diverting colostomy. Their device is a covered stent that is placed inside the colon at the anastomosis, protecting the area from excessive pressure and from exposure to fecal contents.
SilverCloud Health: Silvercloud health is a comprehensive behavioral and mental health therapeutic platform. The platform has a multitude of features including having a supporter follow your progress and provide feedback, and social integration. In addition it also provides customized enterprise solutions. The specific programs offered include dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, chronic illness, eating disorders and stress.
Sontina Medical, LLC: This company is creating a low-cost, fast, easy to use and high quality single-use breast biopsy device.
Tueo Health: In pediatrics, chronic asthma is a costly and potentially deadly condition that can be difficult to stay on top of. A large component of this cost, and risk, are acute asthma flares, which can be treated effectively by adjusting a patient’s medications. The key problem is that it can be difficult to identify an acute flare early enough to prevent the need for hospitalization. Tueo medical has created an ingenious sensor that resides in a child’s bedroom and can accurately detect an acute asthma flare at a very early stage. Using this information in conjunction with the patient’s medical team medication adjustments can be made preventing the serious consequences associated with improperly treated flares. The minds behind Tueo are graduates of Stanford’s Biodesign program.
V-Sense Medical Devices: Recording vital signs in a nursing home setting is typically performed by scheduled vital sign checks by nursing staff a few times a day. Unfortunately in those hours in between checks there is a window where nurses could be alerted to trouble if they only had access to alarming changes in vitals. V-sense uses technology originally developed by NASA to wirelessly measure heart rate and respiratory rate using a small cubic sensor with no patient contact whatsoever. V-sense can give nurses real-time alerts to intervene before it’s too late.
Vetex Medical: Venous thrombi can be a challenging clinical problem to treat, and can be a risk factor for pulmonary embolism. Vetex is creating a novel thrombectomy catheter device that is “more aggressive and effective.” Details are not available at this time for this intriguing technology.
WestFace Medical Devices, Inc.: SingleStick is a technology being developed by WestFace which uses “needle-tip imaging” to insure vascular access everytime even for unskilled users.
The Value Award was recently announced and Adient Medical was selected as the winner with Green Sun Medical as a close second. Good luck to all the companies involved and we’ll be back in October to report on the finalists and overall winner.