Changes sweeping through the U.S. health-care system are driving the demand for new high-tech tools and software that enable medical professionals to improve patient care and outcomes.
“With the amount of patient data increasing dramatically every year, we’re seeing more and more interest in clinical decision support,” reports Justin Adams, the CEO of AlertWatch, a University of Michigan spinoff company that has developed patient-monitoring software for hospitals. “Providers need help synthesizing all of this raw data into something actionable. It’s a fast-changing landscape, but we think we’re easily three years ahead of the competition.” He estimates that the operating room, or OR, market for AlertWatch is about $100 million in the U.S. and will expand as payers look to technology to reduce the cost of surgery.
Ann Arbor-based AlertWatch was founded in 2012 by U-M professor and anesthesiologist Dr. Kevin Tremper and is housed in the University’s North Campus Research Complex Venture Accelerator. The company’s proprietary software system brings together vital information from physiological monitors, anesthesia records, lab results and medical history to produce a dynamic real-time image of a patient’s condition on an animated, color-coded human body display. The system continually analyzes the data to help determine whether conditions are normal, marginal or abnormal, and provides alerts to medical personnel when the readings indicate potential problems. The team recently added billing alerts to help providers correct their billing documentation and capture additional revenue.
“A growing number of electronic medical record vendors are pulling our company into deals with their anesthesia clients who supervise multiple surgeries at the same time and need a solution to help manage that workflow with an increased focus on quality,” Adams explains. Currently, AlertWatch is piloting its system nationwide in 10 hospitals, including the University of Michigan Health System, the University of Vermont, the University of Tennessee, the University of California-Irvine and Washington University in St. Louis.
AlertWatch received U.S. FDA approval for its OR solution in February 2014 and recently was issued another patent for its integrated patient monitoring product. To date, the start-up has raised $1.5 million from a variety of funding sources, including angel investors, company founders, the Michigan Pre-Seed Capital Fund, the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center and the Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. That total includes $500,000 in seed funding raised through an inside round after AlertWatch presented to investors at the 2014 Michigan Growth Capital Symposium. The new capital helped the company get its first customer and prepare for its Series A round of fundraising.
“We’ve spent the past year quietly building value ─ improving the product, bringing on sales and marketing personnel and filling up our pipeline with new sites,” says Adams, who holds an MBA and an electrical engineering degree from the U-M. “Now we are building off that momentum and expect 2015 to be a big year for us.”
The feedback AlertWatch received at the MGCS provided the company with a clearer picture of the competitive landscape and areas where it could create the most value for the hospital providers and administration. “The symposium also was a great opportunity to present to and meet face-to-face with investors,” Adams adds.