Marking its first technology transfer to a startup, the West Health Institute Tuesday announced that newly-formed company, Sense4Baby Inc., is licensing the institute’s Sense4Baby technology for a wireless fetal monitor that could be used to monitor high-risk pregnancies in remote clinics.
Sense4Baby Inc. also announced it has received a significant funding commitment from the West Health Investment Fund and that it will be the first company to enter the newly-launched West Health Incubator.
“The West Health Institute exists to develop innovations that will lower the costs of health care,” said Dr. Rob Matthews, chief technology officer of West Health. “Sense4Baby has been designed to enable a new model of care that can potentially bring needed care to the expectant mother at a remote clinical setting, as opposed to requiring her to go through the frequent travel and expense of visiting a doctor at a central hospital.”
High-risk pregnancies require substantially more monitoring and physician attention, including recommended weekly visits to a doctor’s office for a Non-Stress Test that monitors the fetal heart rate and mother’s contraction activity. Research from the Institute estimates technologies like the Sense4Baby system could result in almost $1.5 billion per year in savings across the United States from better birth outcomes, reduced equipment costs, more efficient use of hospital facilities and reduced direct costs to expectant mothers.
The Sense4Baby system is an innovative, proprietary, portable wireless fetal monitor that uses custom sensors, software and hardware connected to a cellular network, so maternal and fetal monitoring of pregnancies can be performed remotely to better facilitate the clinical management of the high-risk mother while minimizing the travel, inconvenience and cost of traditional office visits.
According to a study from the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, the annual medical, educational, and lost productivity cost to society of preterm births in the United States is at least $26 billion in 2005.
“By bringing proprietary technologies together with an innovative interface, Sense4Baby can help advance a new cost-effective and cost-saving model of care,” said Barry Hudson, vice president of business development for Sense4Baby. “The Sense4Baby platform represents the potential to overcome traditional barriers to accessing quality care for high-risk expectant mothers, while lowering the cost of care.”
The Institute is involved in an ongoing pilot research study in Mexico with the Carlos Slim Health Institute, deploying Sense4Baby prototypes in the Yucatan region to study the impact of this technology on potentially reducing the cost of health care delivery, as well as to better understand its clinical benefits for a high-risk population.
Sense4Baby is the first resident of the newly launched West Health Incubator, located in La Jolla on the same campus as the West Health Institute.