San Antonio medical device company Turn Medical has secured a major contract with the U.S. federal government enabling the startup to supply federal customers such as the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), the Veteran Administration (VA), and the Indian Health Service.
The VA’s Veterans Health Administration is the largest integrated healthcare network in the United States, with 1,255 healthcare facilities serving 9 million enrolled veterans annually.
In January, Turn Medical partnered with the national provider of rented medical equipment US Med-Equip (USME) to widen access to the startup’s first product for critically ill patients with severe respiratory issues.
“The DOD and VA didn’t have access to us before,” said Turn Medical CEO Tara Psencik. “We’ve been working on getting approved for the Federal Supply Schedule to supply the federal government with our innovative hospital bed.”
Turn Medical launched its bed in late 2021.
Automating the ‘proning’ or turning of patients
Turn Medical’s Pronova-O2 Automated Prone Therapy System is an automated hospital bed that rotates patients to a prone position onto their abdomen. The bed gives clinicians an effective, efficient way to move patients into the prone position safely and easily.
Prone positioning is recommended for critically ill patients with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), which accounts for about 10% of all admissions to intensive care units (ICUs) worldwide. Prone therapy is now considered the standard of care for those with severe ARDS to reduce lung trauma and improve outcomes, especially those on a ventilator.
“It can take six to eight clinicians to place a patient in the prone position physically and just as many to return the patient to the supine position for CPR,” Psencik added. “This labor-intensive process takes a toll on patients and clinicians alike, especially as more and more bedside clinicians having experience with the complex process of proning patients are leaving the healthcare practice altogether.”
Turn Medical’s automated prone positioning system allows a single nurse to flip a patient in 30 seconds by pushing a button on their bed, Psencik said. The bed can also elevate the patient’s head and upper body and be set to continuously rotate the bed slowly to help prevent skin damage from lying in one position too long.
“The standard of care is to reposition patients every two hours,” Psencik said. “Doing it manually takes manpower, and nurses who need to flip that patient onto their back before starting CPR don’t have that time.”
Nurses, nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants suffer more musculoskeletal injuries than workers in any other field. Costs associated with back injuries in the healthcare industry total more than $7 billion annually. About 500,000 patients in the U.S. with acute respiratory distress syndrome could benefit from automated prone positioning.
Turn Medical’s Texas-based US Med-Equip supplies thousands of hospitals nationwide for the rental, sales, service, and asset management of medical equipment — diagnostic and clinical devices ranging from ventilators to therapeutic patient beds.
“As clinicians provide life-saving care, they count on the highest quality medical equipment to help their patients heal,” US Med-Equip CEO Greg Salario said. “Our partnership with Turn Medical will offer hospitals greater access to specialized proning beds designed to help their patients heal without risking clinicians’ bedside injuries.”
Scaling Turn Medical hospital bed manufacturing
The commercialization of Turn Medical’s bed will significantly increase the number of automated devices available in the United States. Hospitals can acquire Pronova-O2 through capital purchase, rental in select regions, or via access to the Federal Supply Schedule for federal customers.
Over the past three years, the company has raised $10.2 million in seed funding from founders and angel investors.
The hospital bed is the first product in Turn Medical’s pipeline. They have also developed a technology application called InteliDerm to use with the bed that may help prevent pressure wounds on the patient’s skin. Turn Medical is building beds near the San Antonio airport on Arion Parkway. The company has 15 employees and six patents pending.
“Federal agencies will now have access to our technology to support the standard of practice for these most vulnerable patients,” Psencik said. “We hope greater access to our automated hospital bed can help address the crisis in healthcare staffing shortages while supporting vulnerable patients who need proning.”
The featured photo is of Turn Medical’s hospital bed, the Pronova-O2 Automated Prone Therapy System, in use at a hospital. Courtesy photo.