Patient Safety – Devices Forecasting Individual Risk

Is there a market for devices providing early warnings or predictions of risks to patient safety? This is an important question for us. Whilst the technology is very different there are parallels between this device, and it’s market, and our opportunities for marketing advanced pattern recognition.

A new Tucson company has begun selling a medical device made by an Israeli firm that can help diagnose a patient’s risk for serious heart problems years down the road.

And MedVica International Inc. is hitting the ground running on the marketing side, with a mention of the company’s medical device in Prevention magazine’s “Top Medical Breakthroughs of 2009.”
The device, called the Endo-PAT and made by Itamar Medical Ltd., clips onto two fingers and senses a patient’s pulse. By scoring a patient’s results against a benchmark, the device can tell if a patient is at risk for heart attack or stroke by sensing a lack of elasticity of the blood-vessel lining, a condition called endothelial dysfunction.

“It’s huge,” MedVica CEO Sharon Snyder said of the mention in Prevention magazine.
Snyder — a former University of Arizona cardiology nurse who has run a clinical-trials firm and a business consultancy — said her new company recently won a contract to distribute the Endo-PAT in North and South America and is ramping up sales.

The device was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2003 and is already used in 40 other countries.

“The device is so new (in the U.S.), that when we sit down and talk with the docs, they say, ‘How come I never heard of this before?’ ” she said.

The Prevention article notes that a team led by Dr. Amir Lerman, a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., studied the device for eight years. The article said the studies showed that half of people whose Endo-PAT scores indicate endothelial dysfunction go on to have a heart attack or stroke, “proving the test to be a powerful forecaster of individual risk.”

“Six, seven years ahead of time, you can tell if you’re going to have endothelial dysfunction,” Snyder said, adding that such early warning allows patients to make diet and lifestyle changes that can head off serious cardiovascular problems.

The magazine notes that there is one similar product, the Vendys system made by Houston-based Endothelix Inc., which uses fingertip sensors to detect temperature changes that can signal endothelial dysfunction.

Snyder said MedVica International has 24 salespeople across the U.S. and plans to have about 200 by the end of June.

The Endo-PAT device costs $29,500 and each test costs an average of $250, she said.

Original article in Arizona Daily Star

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