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The company uses computer vision to accurately track the size and color of a wound over time
There's a problem in healthcare when it comes to quality and accessibility of data in medicine, especially when it comes to chronic wound care, such as bed sores and ulcers that have to be cared for over years. For the most part, it has been done manually and, therefore, inaccurately.
"The old way that a doctor would manage and track the wound was with a ruler. Then they'd have to remember the last visit to figure out how it looked. This was holding the field back," said Kevin Keenahan, CEO and co-founder of Tissue Analytics, a company that provides a solutions to increase efficiency and accuracy for wound and skin tracking.
The company announced a $5 million Series A round of financing led by DigiTx Partners with participation from Tencent, Dreamit, Molnlycke Health Care, Intermountain Healthcare, and Penn Medicine. This latest funding brings its total raised to $7.67 million.
Founded in 2014, Tissue Analytics partners with healthcare systems, from skilled nursing facilities to large hospital systems, and integrates with their electronic medical record (EMR) systems including Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, and athenaHealth to digital track the progression of chronic wounds.
The solution is fairly low tech on the front end; it doesn't even require a special camera or any attachments. Clinicians simply take photos of the wound using their smartphone; the photos are then uploaded to the app. Because smartphone cameras don't always take the best photos, and to account for changes in lighting and angle, the company came up with a sticker that goes onto a patient's skin next to the wound, to calibrate the camera to the coloring of the wound, as well as a paper ruler, to accurately track the size, no matter the distances of the camera.
It's on the back end that Tissue Analytics' solution really kicks into gear. The photos are analyzed by computer vision to automatically track the tissue composition and precise changes in size and color over time.
"Doctor's haven't had the accuracy to do predictive modeling, making it more of an art rather than a science. Our computer vision algorithm can automatically measure wound healing with precise objective data," said Keenahan. "We are partnering with EMR companies, big, multi-billion dollar systems, and that allows us to broader analysis population. It gives us a broader tool kit."
Currently, Tissue Analytics is in over 130 systems across the country, and has 30,000 chronic patients under management, mostly centering around three types of ulcers: venous ulcers, diabetic ulcers, and pressure ulcers, aka bed sores, though it is also used for other types of wounds as well, including burns and patients who have had a colostomy procedure done.
Right now, the company is in clinical trials to determine the exact benefit to patients whos wounds are being tracked. This is, Keenahan said, "the holy grail of this space."
"We want to have the data to accelerate healing. How do we provide data to help clinicians make better decisions? It's a complex question to ask, and we'll have the answer to that in 2018," he said.
On the other end are the economics for the healthcare systems, which are able to save money by being able to better treat patients who are less likely to develop wounds while in the hospital.
"The issue most people have in health IT is that it's hard to juggle clinical value propositions. It's uncommon for a product to add clinical value and financial value for a hospital. What's engaging for clinicians about Tissue Analytics is also a financial value for hospitals around compliance. If someone develops a wound in a hospital, the hospital bears all the cost to treat that patient, so better monitoring means they save money," Keenahan explained.
Even with trials still ongoing, the system is already more accurate than a doctor would be, he told me. Right now, the Tissue Analytics system has a 3 percent variability rate when it comes to accurately tracking a wound, whereas the variability of a human is between 15 percent to 50 percent.
The company plans to use its new funding to double the size of its 15 person team by the end of the year, expanding its sales team and data science team in its new office in Kansas City. In addition, it will spend the coming year focusing on hospitals, as they are a more consolidated market than nursing systems, and have well aligned financial incentives, Keenahan said.
Tissue Analytics also plans to add capabilities with its industry partners for new ways to look at data, including being able to determine how effective products at are at specific points of a particular kind of round. By analyzing prior patients, it will know what the best time is to use to a spectrum of products and protocols based on that specific type of wound.
"Our ultimate goal to have a clear impact on healing patients faster. If you're able to do that at scale then you’re tabulating the extra days that you’re giving patients," said Keenahan.
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