Wound care puts a high financial burden on the healthcare systems of many countries. Particularly for Venous Leg Ulcers (VLUs), costs are high and patients are affected by the consequences during a long period of time. When compression therapy is applied with the right pressure, healing times should significantly improve. However, applying bandages with the right pressure is easier said than done, as every leg is different and after the bandages are applied patients start moving, causing the pressure to change. The founders of Feeltect wanted to provide insight in sub-bandage pressure during compression therapy aiming to improve the care provided. Therefore, FeelTect developed Tight Alright, the first wearable compression meter. Tight Alright can be used to continuously monitor the sub bandage pressure during compression therapy.
In order to give more insights about this promising innovation, MedScaler interviewed Andrew Cameron, the CEO and Co-founder of FeelTect.
How is your innovation revolutionising healthcare?
“VLUs, are a growing problem in Europe and beyond, affecting 11.5 million people globally each year and representing a significant health economic burden. Despite their pervasiveness, treatment options for VLUs have remained mostly unchanged for centuries, relying on largely ineffective practices that result in delayed or non-healing outcomes. These practices predominantly involve Compression Therapy, the most widely accepted treatment for VLUs, whereby bandages are used to apply pressure to the leg to overcome venous insufficiency. Compression Therapy’s shortcomings can be attributed to the difficulty in achieving consistent application and lack of quantitative monitoring. While safe and efficacious pressure must be delivered at 35-50 mmHg, this is only achieved 10% of the time and can be rapidly lost through multiple causes. To address these problems FeelTect delivers the Tight Alright system – the first wearable, connected-health technology that combines a digital platform for measuring and monitoring sub-bandage pressure. Tight Alright can ensure that pressure is effectively applied throughout the duration of treatment, lessening the burden on healthcare professionals through informing treatment regimens and engaging patients to confidently adjust their own bandages. The implications for this disruption to the standard of care include accelerated healing (5-week improvements) and reduced overall costs (30% reductions).”
What is your founding story? How did you come up with this innovation?
“FeelTect is a connected-health, wound care start-up company based in Galway, Ireland, which began its journey in the renowned BioInnovate Ireland programme at National University Ireland (NUI) Galway. It was during this needs-driven innovation programme, in 2016/2017, that CEO, Dr Andrew Cameron, spent two months of clinical immersion in the University Hospital Galway and Mayo Clinic, Rochester, observing a wide range of cardiovascular procedures over multiple care settings. The thousands of observations that were made were coalesced into hundreds of clinical needs, which were filtered based on factors such as market size, burden of proof, clinical impact, IP landscape, and time to market.”
“With the help of Dr Georgina Gethin, Head of Nursing at NUI Galway, the leading unmet clinical need that was identified as a way to improve the application and maintenance of evidence-based pressure during compression therapy of venous leg ulcers, for improved healing outcomes and quality of life. To begin addressing this need, an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund project was started in January 2018, within the labs of Prof. Garry Duffy, in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway. The successful outputs from this project saw the formation of FeelTect in May 2019 by founders, Dr Andrew Cameron (CEO), Dr Darren Burke (CTO), and Prof. Garry Duffy (NED).”
Why are you interested in entering/exploring the Dutch market?
“While Tight Alright fits within an existing care pathway and utilizes a proven mechanism of action, the digitization of a traditional field of medicine requires innovative early adopters. We saw this profile fitted the Dutch market well, where there is a general acceptance of new medical technologies that bring clinical value and cost-effectiveness to the various healthcare systems. These are traits that FeelTect aspires to, so we are keen to explore the potential for the Tight Alright technology to improve the standard of care for venous leg ulcers in The Netherlands.”
What is the next milestone for your company?
“Our next major milestone is achieving regulatory approval (CE mark) for the core Tight Alright technology as a Class I (measuring) device, expected in Q2 2021, to see the device ready for market launch. In the meantime, we are looking to collaborate with clinical partners to trial and refine the technology. This will form the foundation of our hypothesis for subsequent studies assessing efficacy.”
What is the most valuable tip about innovating healthcare that every entrepreneur could learn from?
“Be adaptable. Plans rarely work out exactly as intended however you need to be willing to accept this risk with the knowledge and confidence to adapt when changes are necessary. There are many pathways to success.”
Where do you see your innovation in 5 years?
“We have an ambition to scale FeelTect and see the Tight Alright device benefiting as many patients as possible. In 5 years’ time we hope to have entered 10 international markets and to have developed the technology to a point where its data generation can be used for redefining and improving the standard of care for venous leg ulcer patients.