San Antonio-based MR3 Health has developed an internet of things (IoT)-connected foot sensor for diabetic patients to monitor the health of their feet from the comfort of their home. The startup is raising capital in an early Series B round of funding to bring its patented, Food and Drug Administration-cleared TempTouch dermal thermometer foot sensor and accompanying home health monitoring service to market.
Tech Tribune recently listed the medical technology startup as one of the 10 Best Startups of San Antonio. MR3 Health launched its innovative combination of healthcare service and internet-connected technology in 2015 after they recognized an important shift in healthcare. The medical device market is transforming from physicians using discrete medical technologies to more focus on developing entire healthcare platforms as a service with IoT devices as enablers for remote patient monitoring (RPM).
Digital technologies increasingly collect medical and other forms of health data from individuals in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to healthcare providers in a different location for assessment and recommendations. MR3 Health uses this model to monitor the foot health of diabetic patients.
In-home monitoring generates big data which healthcare professionals can leverage to produce personalized patient insights and predictive healthcare interventions. This approach has value beyond any single device, diagnostic, or technology, according to the 2016 PwC Health Institute industry assessment and is driving the explosive growth in this market, MR3 Health vice president of operations Daniel Wadsworth explained.
According to the U.S. National Broadband Plan drafted in 2010 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the use of remote patient monitoring technology in conjunction with electronic health records could save the healthcare industry $700 billion over the next 15 to 20 years.
“Providers tell us they need help in managing their high-risk patients,” MR3 Health president Stan Marett said. “Remote patient monitoring is emerging as a way to improve healthcare outcomes while reducing costs.”
As a business-to-business (B2B) biotechnology company, MR3 Health works closely with larger managed healthcare provider groups to provide their patients with remote health monitoring services. The company is in discussion with several Medicare Advantage Programs, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Indian Health Service, which combined, represent about a billion dollar remote monitoring market in the U.S. for MR3 Health, Wadsworth said.
MR3 Health’s home health monitoring service requires patients to use their cellphone app daily. The app directs the patient where to place the sensor on different parts of one’s foot. As the sensor takes temperature readings, data are transmitted wirelessly to the patient’s database record on the company’s cloud-based server. The sensor tracks minute temperature changes on 12 spots on a person’s feet over time, and the algorithm alerts professionals if an increase in foot temperature merits an intervention before a serious foot ulcer develops.
Taking the guesswork out of foot temperature readings is a smart way to improve patient outcomes, UPSA ACO executive director David Reyes said. UPSA is an accountable care organization that provides a coordinated patient-focused healthcare team for its Medicare patients.
“You’re not guessing at whether there is an inflammatory process that’s started because you have objective temperature data that you can track over time,” Reyes said. “In medicine part of the problem is the trial and error in making clinical judgments, but this monitoring can help reduce that trial and error.”
Patients living with diabetic neuropathy suffer from diabetes-related nerve damage and are prone to develop ulcerating wounds on their feet. The American Diabetes Association reports that about 1,000,000 diabetics in the U.S. will experience a foot ulcer annually, with approximately 100,000 of those undergoing a lower extremity amputation. In the U.S. alone, about 80 percent of lower-limb amputations are due to a diabetic foot ulcer.
MR3 Health aims to save a conservative 50 percent of the cost of managing diabetic foot health for this patient population. Estimates of healthcare costs for all diabetic foot patients in the U.S. range from $9 to $18 billion.
“The 50 percent savings of what we think is as high as $18 billion [in diabetic foot healthcare costs] translates into $9 billion,” Wadsworth said. “This incentivizes healthcare providers to use us because they get to keep 75 percent of the savings, while we keep 25 percent for our service.”
The startup has five employees and outsources most of the company functions so that it can be scalable and efficient in managing costs. They plan to add about 10 to 20 new employees to their operations staff over the next three years. The company holds all intellectual property for the sensor.
There is “no substantial competition in the foot sensor monitoring segment,” Marett said, as pressure-sensing socks only indicate the presence of pressure, which does not have the diagnostic value of temperature, a warning sign of inflammation. MR3 Health does have competitors in the remote patient monitoring service market.
“We plan to expand disease remote management services to other patients like those with high blood pressure or congestive heart failure, developing new remote sensor patents and monitoring services as the company grows,” Marett said. “We are market ready and looking to launch this service.”