A dynamic health technology startup is using the iPad as the base of a new method to help anesthesiologists monitor blood loss during surgery in real time, hoping to facilitate better intraoperative fluid management and more appropriate blood transfusions.
Gauss Surgical Inc.’s mobile medical platform uses the iPad to scan surgical surfaces that are covered in blood — namely, pieces of gauze that soak up blood during surgery. Through an iPad app, those scanned images are sent to the cloud, where Gauss’ algorithms go to work, “almost like facial recognition software,” to determine and deliver an estimate of how much blood is present in that sample, said co-founder and chief technology officer Siddarth Satish.
According to Satish, many surgical teams currently use visual estimation to determine how much blood a patient loses during procedures, a method that has long been known to be imprecise. Overestimating or underestimating blood loss can contribute to patient complications, morbidity and mortality while increase care costs, as demonstrated in a recent study at Johns Hopkins.
Other methods for measuring blood loss — like a catheter that’s inserted into the heart to transmit information to a monitor — are invasive and still inaccurate. There’s been some research and innovation in this field in recent years, but much of it has focused on monitoring blood loss during childbirth.
Testing data on Gauss’ accuracy of measurement wasn’t shared, but if the company can demonstrate that its method delivers more reliable data than visual estimation, hospitals may also find use for it in delivering valuable data back to their quality departments, like how much total blood they’re losing during surgery and how that compares to national averages.
Creating a business model that best leverages those capabilities is still a work in progress, Satish said, but a final business model will likely be similar to models that hospitals are used to seeing with medical devices and software.
Gauss’ other co-founder is CEO Dr. Milt McColl, a serial life sciences entrepreneur and former venture capitalist (who also happens to be a former NFL linebacker who won two Super Bowls with the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s). McColl and Satish raised a $1 million seed round last fall from several angel investors, including Fred Moll, the founder of Intuitive Surgical, and a network of anesthesiologists. In April, they received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance for one of the components of the Gauss platform; the final FDA submission is being prepared this week, Satish said.
Both co-founders are entrepreneurs-in-residence at StartX, the Stanford student startup accelerator, and recently presented at its Spring Demo Day.
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