many patients suffer from neurological injuries or conditions neurogenic bladderor problems with bladder-control, brain, spinal cord, or neurological problems.
Some patients may need to use catheters and urine collection bags continuously, but this can be time consuming either difficult to use in public places, Augment Health cofounders Jared Meyers and Stephen Kalinsky aim to add another option for patients with their device that monitors bladder filling and alerts users to a smartphone app.
CEO sat down with Meyers and CTO Kalinsky MobyHealth News to discuss how their system works, what they learned while talking to patients and providers, and what’s next for their startup.
MobiHealthNews: Can you give me some background on how the device and the app work?
Stephen Kalinsky: We are helping people with neurological conditions know when their bladder is full.
Instead of where they usually have a bag at the end of the catheter, our device attaches and monitors their filling. It notifies them on their phone when their bladder is full, and then when they have to go to the bathroom they can open this valve, and it will empty their bladder. And so it makes it more of a natural process where urine is reabsorbed in one’s body, rather than unloading it in a bag.
There are physical benefits that come with it, and then there’s also peace of mind where you don’t have to look and stare at the bag or worry about people potentially leaking it.
MHN: What was the inspiration behind designing such a system?
Jared Meyers: The project began when Stephen and I were going through our biomedical engineering program at Georgia Tech. Last summer we were working with each startup in different roles; We kept coming back looking for where we could really make an impact and start something of our own.
It was honestly my conversation on a plane with a urologist. From there we started talking to more and more people. As we’ve made this transition from speaking primarily with urologists to hearing stories of people with spinal cord injuries, people with multiple sclerosis who deal with these problems every day. That was when it transitioned from a really interesting place to a problem that we knew we had to solve immediately. It was exactly this research, this understanding of the patient journey and the patient experience.
MHN: What did you hear from patients and providers as you discussed that patient journey and experience?
Meyers: Initially, we were hearing a lot about infections from the doctor. catheter-associated urinary tract infection These are a major and very notable issue within space, and a lot of work has been done on them. But then, as we continued to talk to patients, what we started hearing was that, in a lot of cases, it can take a really long time for someone to be able to use the bathroom. Some people were hesitant to go outside for a week or more after they started using these urine collection bags because they were embarrassed.
In other cases, someone jumped their pet cat onto their bag, causing the bag to burst. From other people who may have been in the condition for a while or did a little more research, they were really voicing these concerns around, “Wait, if I’m using a bag instead of my bladder, my what’s up with bladder health,
For a physician, they may see this patient once a month, but for his patients and people dealing with the condition, it’s a daily — potentially every four hours — sort of thing.
MHN: How did you develop the app to work with the device?
Kalinsky: It came from user interviews where they were identifying needs and how one would interact with it. Before we knew we needed an app, in a way we were looking at things to see if there was a way where the device could notify someone. But if you wondered if you ever had something in your pocket, you might not hear it. And if you don’t have a sensation below the waist, you won’t feel any haptic signals there. Obviously, if it’s covered with clothing, you won’t see the light.
So sending information over the phone was actually one of the easiest ways to reach patients. You have a lot more computing power on your phone than we can fit in a device we wanted to scale.
It’s the synergistic effect where we were able to shrink the device and reduce how much weight it took to go into the battery and other processing, and then also do more sophisticated processing and generate reports if the patient needed to show that to their doctor. it occurs.
MHN: What are your next steps for the business?
Meyers: What we’re seeing ahead is a hyper-focus on two core elements of the business, technology development and then the commercialization path. On a slightly more detailed level, we have that prototype complete, but just to make sure that we can make it as usable as possible for people who have limited access due to some of these injuries and diseases. There may be skill.
Once we do that and go through the regulatory process, we are ready to put it in the hands of the people as soon as possible. So in that regard, it is identifying who those early adoption clinics will be, really interfacing with urologists and other stakeholders within the industry.