Health IT

A diaper sensor and data is one startup’s solution to helping manage incontinence in seniors

Now here’s something you don’t hear every day: an innovation for the adult diaper. With a two-fold purpose of improving urinary incontinence care while standardizing data collection, Gweepi Medical Inc. is developing a wireless sensor and software system for nursing homes and other healthcare providers. Gweepi’s disposable sensor patch is applied to a diaper. When […]

Now here’s something you don’t hear every day: an innovation for the adult diaper.

With a two-fold purpose of improving urinary incontinence care while standardizing data collection, Gweepi Medical Inc. is developing a wireless sensor and software system for nursing homes and other healthcare providers.

Gweepi’s disposable sensor patch is applied to a diaper. When it becomes wet, the wireless sensor sends an alert to nursing staff, who can attend to the patient immediately. But there are already sensors that do that. What’s interesting about the Gweepi system is that it also stamps and stores the time and severity of the episode, opening up the potential for a personalized care plan based on aggregated data.

Automating the collection and aggregation of data related to incontinence incidents could make it easier for nursing homes to gather quality metrics and meet requirements of the Minimum Data Set, a mandated, standardized assessment of all residents in Medicare of Medicaid-certified nursing home facilities, said co-founder Jayanth Shivaprakash.

Research has linked urinary incontinence to an increased risk of rashes, urinary tract infections, pressure ulcers, falls and fractures, and a 2004 study published in Urology put a price tag of $19.5 billion dollars on the annual cost of UI in the United States. It’s a big enough problem that it’s gotten the attention of power players like Pfizer and Medtronic. Other companies have formed entirely to innovate new device and drug treatments for the condition, including Uromedica, GT Urological, Rochester Medical, Continental Dry Works, Novasys Medical and Uroplasty.

Inspired by a family member who had a diaper alert system for a child, Shivaprakash saw the opportunity in the senior care market and joined up with former Worchester Polytechnic Institute classmate Matt Racki, a software engineer, to form Gweepi. They now have a functional prototype and are working on refining their business model at the Healthbox Boston incubator.

Shivaprakash said there are multiple avenues the company could take for marketing the product – from nursing homes (where half of residents are incontinent, according to the National Association for Continence) to home healthcare to acute care. But for a start, the company has a commitment from an East Coast nursing home to pilot the system there and will be actively looking for funding in the near future.