Autonomous blood drawing device developer Vitestro raises $22M

Steven Loeb · April 30, 2024 · Short URL:

The company plans to bring its device to market in Europe before expanding to the United States

Blood draws are one of the most common invasive medical procedures in the world, yet little has changed about how we do them: for centuries, it’s involved one human sticking another with a needle – often repeatedly until they get it right. A recent survey found that as many as 71% of patients received multiple sticks for a blood draw.

Yet, like so many aspects of the healthcare system, there's a worker shortage, with about 19,500 openings for phlebotomists are projected each year, on average, over the next decade. In fact, last year, the American Society of Clinical Pathology urged Congress to help address its labor shortage.

Autonomous blood drawing company Vitestro believes the answer to that lies in robotics.

The company, which announced a $22 million (€20 million) funding round on Tuesday, has developed a blood drawing device that combines AI, advanced imaging technology, and robotics, providing accurate and autonomous blood draws, thereby reducing the need for manual handling.

"With fewer trained staff, lab delays have become common and patients must endure both long waits and suffer through painful blood draws. This has a cascading effect on the health system as delays in labs can delay diagnosis, treatments and even a patient’s discharge," Brian Joseph, co-founder and commercial director at Vitestro, told VatorNews.

"With robotics and AI being used in applications throughout society, our personal experience inspired us to attack this glaring problem with our own novel solution."

Founded in 2017, Vitestro, which is based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, has developed a device which allows the patient sits in a chair while the device takes a sterile needle, disinfects the skin, and uses infrared light to detect the vein. The device then uses ultrasound and artificial intelligence to determine the optimal insertion location with great accuracy. Once the optimal location is found, the device punctures the vein, draws the blood, and places a bandage.

"For patients, there is the relief of immediately being seen, knowing the draw is being done the proper way based on imaging of their specific anatomy, and a more pleasing experience. For clinicians, they can focus on the needs of the highest risk patients while gaining control over their day and time," explained Joseph.

"And for systems, it helps them overcome a lack of staff, achieve greater consistency in a fundamental procedure, improve patient progression throughout a stay, and make both patients and staff happier. Ultimately, it could even allow them to scale by seeing more patients and remaining open longer."

This new funding brings Vitestro's total raised to $50 million (€46 million) from both equity investments and grant funding. The company plans to use the money to expand commercially, first in Europe, where it currently has pre-orders from a handful of customers; it plans to be live in Europe by the end of this year after it obtain its CE mark.

After that, Vitestro has its sight set on other international markets, particularly the United States, where it's currently in conversations with the FDA. The company plans to build out its team in the United States and plans to host a booth at ADLM this July. Meanwhile, the company is actively engaging with multiple health systems, organizations and experts around the country to hone its go-to-market strategy. 

"We have made great strides in our development and production efforts, and are excited to begin commercialization in Europe and establish a presence in North America. At the same time, patients, staff and clinical chemists have all shared overwhelmingly positive feedback about the device and technology," said Joseph.

"This is going to be an important year in our growth and this funding will help accelerate our plans. Vitestro is well on its way to dramatically transforming blood draws for millions of people around the planet."

While it's expanding it footprint, Vitestro is also currently leading the A.D.O.P.T. trial, the world’s largest evaluation of autonomous blood drawing devices. With an anticipated sample size of over 10,000 patients, the objective is to test and continue developing Vitestro’s autonomous venipuncture device and achieve the performance and safety results required for regulatory approval. 

"At some point during their lives, nearly everyone on the planet will have their blood drawn in a medical setting. We are creating a new global standard for blood draws that will dramatically reshape both patient and clinician expectations for that procedure – making it safe, fast, accurate and easy for everyone involved," Joseph said.

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