Startups, Hospitals

In quest to revolutionize wound monitoring, Tissue Analytics adds Intermountain Healthcare

Tissue Analytics is working with Intermountain Healthcare and other health systems to provide an alternative to laser doppler technology and rulers to monitor wound healing.

Tissue Analytics wound monitoring platform

Tissue Analytics wound monitoring platform

News that Tissue Analytics inked a deal with Intermountain Healthcare to roll out its wound monitoring technology across the Salt Lake City health system was a major coup for a young healthcare technology business. So here’s some perspective on how the company arrived at this point in its development and how it is working with Intermountain rolling out its technology platform.

Before cofounding Tissue Analytics, Kevin Keenahan and Josh Budman were just completing a project to earn their master’s degrees. As graduate biomedical engineering students inside the Johns Hopkins Center for Bioengineering Innovation and Design, Keenahan and Budman were observing nurses and doctors treat wounds in hospitals and clinics in Baltimore in 2013. Both already had their post-graduate lives set up: Keenahan had accepted a job at a healthcare consulting firm in Boston and Budman was enrolled in the McGill University Faculty of Medicine. But their time spent watching how wound data was collected in a clinical setting motivated them to form the Baltimore-based startup that creates smartphone-enabled, wound-imaging software.

Go into a hospital with a wound that needs treating, and a physician or nurse will bust out a ruler. They take measurements of how wide and how long the wound is, as well as make a naked-eye observation about the color of the skin tissue: red, black, or yellow. That information is placed in the patient’s record, and it’s recalled when medical professionals need to assess how well a wound is healing. Nearly half of the time, however, ruler measurements result in inaccurate wound data. And wounds are organic shapes, which means a ruler measurement doesn’t truly capture the surface area of the wound or how the wound is changing

Tissue Analytics’ software automates this process instead. Through its smartphone app, a clinician snaps a photo of the wound, and then, through a set of algorithms, data about the wound’s shape and color are recorded, stored in the cloud, and available for nurses and doctors to access.

Tissue Analytics cofounders Kevin Keenahan, CEO, (left) and Josh Budman, CTO

Tissue Analytics cofounders Kevin Keenahan, CEO, (left) and Josh Budman, CTO

“After we spent some time in the clinic, we saw that nurses don’t have the tools at their disposal to make wound care really a science,” said Keenahan, the startup’s 26-year-old CEO, in a phone call. “Computer vision is good at extracting objective characterizations from images.”

Healthcare systems already have another metric for measuring wound healing —laser doppler technology — made by big medtech companies like Philips. Laser doppler tech helps healthcare professionals to measure tissue perfusion, which can provide an indication of whether a wound is healing. But Keenahan said Tissue Analytics is about grabbing an image in a way that’s consistent for clinicians.

“It’s automatic measurements that just unlocks a simpler workflow,” Keenahan said.

The startup’s software is currently in 100 hospital systems across the U.S., including Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. It’s the city where cofounders Keenahan and Budman spent the summer of 2014 working out of the local DreamIt Health accelerator — after Budman dropped out of medical school and Keenahan told the Boston company that had hired him he wasn’t going to make it. The time spent in DreamIt helped the pair secure venture financing for their startup, which currently has about $2.7 million. It also helped them get connected to Intermountain Healthcare.

Intermountain Healthcare is one of the largest non-profit integrated health systems in the U.S., with 22 hospitals, more than 180 clinics, eight clinics specifically for wound care, and a home care division. When Tissue Analytics’ software was first presented to Intermountain’s leaders, they were eager to take the technology into their system’s clinics.

“We noticed this struggle of using a ruler, taking photos, and then having to upload data to a computer,” said Todd Dunn, director of innovation at the Intermountain Healthcare Transformation Lab. “The camera removes that, and improves our ability to get an accurate measurement.”

In 2016, Intermountain Healthcare embarked on an extensive piloting process to integrate Tissue Analytics’ software. First came a month-long proof-of-concept study, to evaluate the software in one of Intermountain’s clinics. Then came a broader, 16-week pilot where Tissue Analytics’ app was used in five clinics and Intermountain’s home care division. There was a discernible difference in the accuracy and quality of wound measurements.

“Regardless of whether you’re in the clinic or home care, you’re using the same solution to measure, document, and size the wound,” Dunn said. “There’s now consistency in documentation between multiple different settings.”

The software removes what Dunn called “unnecessary variability”. In the past, Intermountain’s clinicians and nurses haven’t had the ability to take consistent, accurate measurements for wounds.

Intermountain is now in the process of integrating Tissue Analytics’ technology across its entire health system. By August, all of Intermountain’s divisions will be able to use the Tissue Analytics app and access collected data in patients’ electronic medical records through an integration with Cerner. The data collected on the app lives natively inside Cerner’s EMR system, which means Intermountain employees will have wound data on hand wherever they need it.

“Now we have a longitudinal record of the wound across all those settings,” Dunn said. “This is really continuity of care.”