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Harvard’s Wyss Institute launches hospital data acquisition startup to improve bedside monitoring

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University announced that its bedside data-acquisition software will be commercialized by a recently formed startup company, MediCollector.

The announcement follows a worldwide license agreement between Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) and MediCollector.

The software was developed as part of the Institute’s infant apnea prevention program. During spells of apnea, normal breathing activity is interrupted in newborns and, if left untreated, this can result in a critical lack of oxygen that may cause developmental delays, long-lasting damage and even be life-threatening.

The Wyss’ apnea prevention technology incorporates three unique components: software that continuously acquires vital signals such as breathing activity from affected preemies, an algorithm that analyzes the stream of signals to accurately predict apneic episodes before they happen, and a therapeutic mattress that is set off to vibrate and restore normal breathing as soon as an apneic episode is predicted.

The technology was validated in collaboration with clinicians at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, and Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston.

As an important first step, MediCollector further developed the software initially designed for the apnea prevention system, to become an independent, portable and user-friendly software application capable of communicating with a variety of patient monitors and devices typically found in hospitals, and recording the data in a plug-and-play fashion directly onto a user’s hard disk.

Marking the software’s commercial success and its potential impact at the bedside, NanoVation-GS (Haifa, Israel), a company spun out of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, is using the data-acquisition software to test and validate their nanomaterial-based respiration sensors on newborn infants battling apnea in hospital wards.

"While the initial application of MediCollector’s software will be research-focused, down the road, the company will build a larger portfolio in which the software is integrated with clinical alarm systems," said Osborne, Founder of MediCollector.

It has been shown that many of the alerts constantly beeping at the hospital bedside are actually false alarms that require no clinical response. This can lead to patient distress and loss of staff efficiency and, at worst, it can produce the widely recognized issue of ‘alarm fatigue’, where hospital staff ignore critical signals.

But currently, there are no effective tools for collecting and analyzing alarm counts and response times. MediCollector’s software could collect this data and make it available to hospital administrations aiming to improve their staff performance and operations.