The scientific team behind the health tech start-up WARD 24/7 has already made headlines in Danish media due to their contributions in the COVID-19 situation. Just a few weeks before the pandemic broke out, the early-stage start-up was selected to join the Business Acceleration Academy at BioInnovation Institute to build a company and develop a solid, initial business plan that will help them bring their solution to patients.
The co-founding scientific team consists of CRDO Eske Aasvang from Rigshospitalet, CMO Christian Meyhoff from Bispebjerg Hospital and CTO Helge Sørensen from DTU. The company is led by CEO Betina Langemark, who has a background in strategy from Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca.
We talked to her about the company’s solution: intelligent surveillance of hospitalized patients in the general ward.
What problem are you solving?
It may be a surprise to many people, but a staggering 30% of all patients in normal hospital wards experience unexpected critical complications such as pneumonia, blood poisoning and cardiac injury within the first month after major surgery or during acute medical illness. This leads to longer hospital stays and worse outcomes. It is in part because the monitoring of patients’ vital signs is performed manually by nurses a few times a day which is too infrequent and too simplistic to predict critical events.
What is your solution?
Our technology is based on a wireless collection of the standard vital signs that today are measured by a nurse. These include skin temperature, pulse, oxygenation and heart rhythm. We work with devices already on the market, but we have developed very advanced artificially intelligent algorithms to interpret the complex patterns of vital signs over time to predict the destabilization of the patients. The patterns show early signs of deterioration so health care staff can attend to the patient before they experience critical complications.
How do you see your technology benefit the health care system?
The long-term vision for WARD 24/7 is to transform the way patients are monitored in the general ward – and likely even remotely from the patient’s own home. We aim to eliminate unexpected critical events in the hospital, reduce hospital admissions and shorten hospital stays. This will decrease in-hospital mortality and morbidity at a substantially lower cost than current ineffective monitoring practice, as well as reduce stress among nurses and doctors and make patients feel safe.
Why did you apply for the Business Acceleration Academy?
We were introduced to BII and met with a Business Developer from the BII team. From there, we were convinced that it is the perfect match for our start-up. People here are very enthusiastic and skilled and if they do not have the knowledge themselves, they help us find it which is not always very easy in our field. I have a commercial background, but I have had very good sparring on many crucial topics, including investor requirements and regulations.
What are your next steps?
When the program ends, we will hopefully carry on through soft funding that can bridge to the investments needed to have the monitoring system developed for commercial approval and launched.