Abscesses are nasty business for sufferers, but one WA start-up hopes they will be big business too.
Inova Medical was formed in 2016 by a surgeon, bioengineer and scientist employing the ‘design thinking’ methodology where inventors shake-out problems and design products specifically to solve them.
Inova Medical chief executive and co-founder Melanie White.
The trio combed the health system to find areas that needed a shot of innovation.
In this case the problem was the time, money and resources modern abscess treatments cost to both taxpayers and patients.
The solution they came up with was Abcease; a single-use medical device that allows medical professionals to penetrate abscesses easily and drain the pus safely.
"The Abcease idea crystallised after an extensive search for an area of healthcare where fresh thinking could unlock significant healthcare resources and at the same time, provide better health and quality of life outcomes for patients,” Inova chief medical officer Ming Khoon Yew said.
To the non-medical population abscesses may just seem like big pimples but to treat them safely, without spreading the bacteria they contain, it is far more complicated and often requires the skills of a surgeon.
Given Abcease’s proposed ease of use, Inova Medical chief executive Melanie White believes it could save Australia’s health system billions – and could go a long way to helping others overseas.
“We recognised that skin abscess treatment hadn’t changed for a very long time; it often involves a multi-day stay in hospital, general anaesthetic and an operation,” she said.
“Data from one Perth hospital indicates that at that location alone, approximately 300 people seek emergency treatment for abscess removal annually. Of these 300 people, around 60 per cent are admitted for treatment that involves surgery, a general anaesthetic, and a multi-day hospital stay.
“Not only is this costly and creates congestion in an already-burdened health system, but it is also inconvenient for patients who are away from home, work and their families for several days.
“We thought that there had to be a better way – so we looked at the problem, and developed a simple new medical device that makes it possible to treat these skin abscesses without an operation.”
On the boil
The Abcease is bolting toward commercialisation, helped in part by Inova’s involvement in the CSIRO’s On start-up accelerator program.
They have trialled the prototype in pre-clinical tests and are planning collaboration with Curtin University and Royal Perth Hospital.
Ms White said the company had begun its pre-seed funding search and hoped to have the product available to Australian patients within five years.
“We opened the pre-seed funding round in April, and have had incredibly strong fundraising momentum from well-established surgeons, physicians, and engineers,” she said.
“The support from those interested in helping up optimise healthcare has been overwhelming.”
Secret to success
Associate Professor Yew credited the founders’ diverse backgrounds as part of their success to date.
“The journey to this point has had its challenges. However, what energises us is the cohesion, collegiality, and teamwork that bonds the founders,” he said.
Inova Medical founders Ming Khoon Yew, Melanie White and Alex Hayes.
“The diverse backgrounds and approaches of the three co-founders enable us to find solutions from many different angles.”
Perth suffers from attrition of start-ups when they grow to a certain size and look east or overseas to continue growth.
The city didn’t feature in Startup Genome’s recent global startup ecosystem report but Inova said their WA location had not been a hindrance because of the close medical community.
Inova chief technology officer Alex Hayes said being WA-based had opened up avenues.
“We have been able to gain access to surgeons, hospital executives, regulatory experts, lawyers/IP attorneys, and investors as a result of this community,” he said.
“The collaborative medtech ecosystem that is forming in WA has meant that everyone is willing to share their insights and make introductions to help us connect the dots.”
Source: Read Full Article