Startups, Diagnostics

Podimetrics raises $13.4 million Series B for diabetic foot ulcer sensing mat

The startup has developed smart sensor mat that is designed to be placed in a patient’s home and can analyze foot temperature variations to predict and prevent the occurrence of a potential ulcer. 

Somerville, Massachusetts-based Podimetrics has raised a $13.4 million Series B funding round to support the growth of its business with the Department of Veterans Affairs and commercial insurers. The funding round included participation by Rock Health, Norwich Ventures, and Scientific Health Development.

Podimetrics has raised around $16 million in funding since its founding in 2011.

The startup is tackling the problem of diabetic foot ulcers through a smart sensor mat that is designed to be placed in a patient’s home and can analyze foot temperature variations to predict and prevent the occurrence of a potential ulcer.

Podimetrics users stand on the mat for about 20 seconds and the data gets analyzed and sent to the Podimetrics care team, which examines and triages the data and works with the patient’s physician on preventative treatments and coaching.

A study published in Diabetes Care found that the company’s technology could detect 97 percent of developing foot ulcers an average of five weeks before they could be detected otherwise.

Podimetrics CEO Jon Bloom said the smart mat leads to an average of 1.4 alerts for a patient annually, which triggers personalized recommendations like offloading pressure from a specific foot. While a majority of these issues can be solved remotely, around 32 percent of patients are brought in for a clinical appointment and more extensive care.

Diabetic foot ulcers occur in as many as one-quarter of people with diabetes and account for 85 percent of lower leg amputations in the U.S. One problem in detecting diabetic foot ulcers is the development of neuropathy which causes patients to lose feelings in their extremities and can lead to the development of injury without the individual noticing.

“With diabetic foot ulcers, you lose your independence, it takes weeks or months for recovery and in some cases it can lead to amputations. It’s nuts that that’s still some of the best care we can give,” Bloom said.

One market segment that the company has found particular traction with has been with veterans, owing to the population’s nearly 25 percent rate of diabetes, more than double that of the national average.

Moreover, research has shown that initial diabetic foot ulcer severity among veterans was a more more significant predictor of mortality than coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease or stroke.

Podimetrics is currently in use at 14 VA Medical Centers and has been buoyed by a national guidance document from the VA recommending the use of Podimetrics for high-risk patients.

Of course, diabetic foot ulcers are just one in a range of health complications caused by diabetes. However, they represent a significant driver of cost.

Researchers have estimated that the condition adds between $9 billion and $13 billion to the annual costs associated with diabetes itself.

Additionally, the average cost for an amputation due to a diabetic foot ulcer is around $100,000.

Podimetrics is also working with commercial payers on pilot programs that the company hopes to expand in the coming months.

The company’s product is meant for patients who have already suffered from a foot ulcer, as well as patients at high risk of developing an ulcer due to risk factors like neuropathy and peripheral arterial disease.

With the prevalence and cost associated with diabetic foot ulcers, it’s not surprising that a number of other startups are also trying to address the issue.

San Francisco-based Siren Care, for instance, has developed socks meant to continually track foot temperature and send the info to clinicians. Another competitor, Canadian company Orpyx Medical Technologies, sells a sensor-based insole meant to predict risks to foot health.

Bloom differentiated Podimetrics approach by positioning the smart mat as part of the daily routine of a patient, which can lead to higher rates of adherence and effectiveness than wearable technologies like smart socks.

“Foot ulcers takes weeks to develop and you’re looking for slow accumulation of inflammation at the site, not the subtle changes throughout the day. That’s the real power of this daily consistent snapshot,” Bloom said.

Picture: Podimetrics