StartUPDATES: New developments for healthcare startups

Check out new developments from Equiva, SonALAsense, Sensible Care, and more.

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To advance patient experience and health equity, a team at Northwell Health’s Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital (MEETH) identified an opportunity to reduce language as a barrier to care by improving language interpretation services.

The cumbersome interpretation process required clinicians to access landline telephone devices locked behind nurse’s station, move them to pre-op/post-op patient bays, and ensure connectivity. Two-handset devices limited interaction to audio-only interpretation between the patient and a single caregiver.

MEETH learned that any language interpretation application could quickly and cost-effectively be added to the hospital’s Equiva-powered tablets. These devices had been deployed in 2020, serving primarily to deliver in-room entertainment in the 30-bed unit where TVs were not available.

“Having LanguageLine on Equiva tablets has been instrumental in helping us improve patient experience and caregiving,” said Kerry Donohue, MSN, RN, MEETH patient experience manager and culture leader.  “Our nurses are especially excited. It’s wonderful for care team members to be empowered to overcome language barriers and communication gaps. I can’t stress how important ease-of-use-is in these situations.”

For its U.S. Healthy People 2030 initiative, the US Department of Health and Human Services states that “trained interpreters and bilingual healthcare providers improve patient satisfaction, quality of care, and health outcomes for individuals with limited English proficiency. Overall, there is a need for healthcare organizations to be more active in developing and employing strategies to meet the language and literacy needs of diverse populations.”

The complete customer success story is available at Equiva’s website.

SonALAsense, a pioneer in the development of SONALA-001 and sonodynamic therapy (SDT), a new drug-device combination developed to manage deadly cancers so patients can become survivors, has announced clinical, organizational and growth updates. It is the only company with SDT in clinical trials.

Clinical update

SonALAsense is working on two trials to evaluate the therapeutic potential of SONALA-001 SDT for DIPG and rGBM.

The primary objective of the Phase 1/2 DIPG study is to evaluate the safety and tolerability of ALA SDT and determine the maximum tolerated dose (MTD) or recommended Phase 2 dose (RP2D) of MR-Guided Focused Ultrasound (MRgFUS) energy in combination with SONALA-001 in patients with DIPG. This rare, and deadly, childhood brain tumor is aggressive and affects the pons or brainstem, which controls many of the body’s functions.

The Phase 2 trial in rGBM builds on positive proof of concept results from the first-in-human Phase 0/1 clinical trial of SONALA-001 SDT in recurrent high grade gliomas (rHGG).

Growth update

Three new established individuals have joined the SonALAsense team of industry veterans. April Freeman has joined as Director of Patient Engagement and Advocacy, along with respected doctors Margaret Dugan and Graeme Woodworth who have recently joined the Scientific Advisory Board.

Funding update

The company’s growth strategy continues to advance after raising $25 million funding from successful Series A and B financing rounds and a ~$2 million NCI SBIR grant to help fund the DIPG clinical trial.

Behavioral health business Sensible Care has closed a $13 million Series A funding round. Growth equity firm Volition Capital led the round with participation from Skyline Investors. Founded in 2017, the company provides in-network behavioral telehealth care for families and patients of all ages by licensed clinicians.

Sensible Care provides both psychiatric and therapy services and accepts most major insurance, including TRICARE, a healthcare program for U.S. military service members and their families.

“Our goal is to not only provide patients with on-demand access to mental healthcare services but to do so with a level of quality that comes with long-term patient-provider relationships, which are the bedrock of any traditional practice,” said Paul Kim, CEO of Sensible Care. “Having personally experienced the frustrating obstacles of accessing quality mental healthcare, especially for military veterans, my co-founders and I set out to create a solution that maximizes access for patients by leveraging their insurance while offering value for providers through tech-enabled employment.”

To read more, click here.

A new report to assess clinical robustness among digital health companies by using a more comprehensive definition of clinical rigor and examining companies’ public claims finds that they have more work to do.

“Clinical robustness and public communication of claims remains low across much of the sector. These results highlight a significant opportunity for companies to differentiate themselves and for customers to demand greater validation for the products and services they purchase,” according to the report.

To read the report published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, click here.

Picture: akindo, Getty Images