This study demonstrated the usefulness and accuracy of VG-Bio’s system and helped the company in December 2011 to win a $75,000 grant from the University of Chicago’s Innovation Fund, which is administered by UChicagoTech. The grant is funding a larger proof-of-concept study that will help VG-Bio continue raising venture capital and move its product further along the path to market.

“This is an exciting opportunity for UChicagoTech to support the development of a technology that could have a significant impact on improving patient health,” says Robert Fisher, project manager at UChicagoTech.

 

A 59-year-old man with congestive heart failure (CHF) was recently admitted to the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC) for decompensation, the failure of the heart to maintain adequate blood circulation. The eight-day, $75,000 hospital stay might have been avoided had the patient been using VG-Bio’s remote patient monitoring system based on a predictive analytics technology being commercialized with the help of UChicagoTech, the University of Chicago’s Office of Technology and Intellectual Property.

In fact, the patient was using the system but only as part of a retrospective study. Collecting physiological data on the patient’s condition on and off for 30 days, the system revealed that less critical, lower-cost medical intervention on day 18 and beyond was indicated. That intervention might have prevented the costly hospitalization and improved the quality of care to the patient.

This study demonstrated the usefulness and accuracy of VG-Bio’s system and helped the company in December 2011 to win a $75,000 grant from the University of Chicago’s Innovation Fund, which is administered by UChicagoTech. The grant is funding a larger proof-of-concept study that will help VG-Bio continue raising venture capital and move its product further along the path to market.

“This is an exciting opportunity for UChicagoTech to support the development of a technology that could have a significant impact on improving patient health,” says Robert Fisher, project manager at UChicagoTech.

Conducted by Martin Burke, MD, interim chief of cardiology at UCMC, the new retrospective study is monitoring 30 patients with CHF starting just before each of them is discharged from the hospital and continuing for 60 or more days.

The study is designed to optimize the approach and the protocol for a larger, follow-up, multi-site, observational study. It will improve the predictive analytics’ ability to identity events that should be brought to the attention of healthcare providers. It will also provide the opportunity to publish clinical results.

Meanwhile, VG-Bio is conducting another study at the George E. Wahlen Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company expects to complete both studies by the end of the year.

Afflicting more than five million patients, CHF is the nation’s most pervasive chronic illness and causes more than one million hospital admissions annually. One-quarter of these patients return to the hospital within 30 days—at a cost of $12 billion—and VG-Bio believes its system will reduce this pernicious cycle of readmission.

Turning data into information
The VG-Bio system employs wearable monitors that gather key data about a patient’s condition, including heart rate, blood pressure, oxygenation of the blood, respiration rate and many other biological signals. A smart phone transmits the data to VG-Bio’s data center where it is scrutinized by the company’s proprietary predictive analytical tools that identify significant medical abnormalities earlier than current systems are able to do. This technology enables the daily monitoring of patients with chronic diseases and provides early notification to clinicians of a negative change.

The predictive analytical approach was developed at Argonne National Laboratory and licensed by UChicagoTech to one of the University’s most successful startup companies, SmartSignal (now GE Intelligent Platforms). That company developed the technology for monitoring and diagnosing problems within industrial equipment.

Realizing that the tools had potential for healthcare applications, senior managers at SmartSignal started VG-Bio with UChicagoTech’s assistance in 2005. “The technology is agnostic with respect to what it monitors, whether it’s a pipeline, jet engine or human heart,” says Matthew Pipke, chief technology officer of VG-Bio and former CTO of SmartSignal. “We really believed that healthcare would be a homerun for this technology.”

“Other companies offer monitoring devices but VG-Bio is the only participant in this space that brings predictive analytics as a core-competency, something that’s needed to turn a mountain of data into clinically significant and actionable information,” says Gary Conkright, chief executive officer of VG-Bio and former CEO of SmartSignal.

VG-Bio’s system could be used in nursing homes and hospitals as well as with patients outside of a healthcare setting. And the company anticipates marketing its predictive analytics to remote patient monitoring companies. Down the road, VG-Bio plans to apply its predictive analytics to the management of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In addition, it anticipates incorporating data streams from implantable devices.

VG-Bio believes it is enabling a paradigm shift in healthcare. “Struggling under the weight of the growing elderly population, healthcare can no longer be delivered in a reactive fashion,” Pipke says. “We see technology playing a big role by providing early warnings of impending problems so that a patient can be cared for before his or her condition develops into a crisis and becomes more expensive to address.”

“The opportunity to work with VG-Bio is particularly rewarding and a prime example of the important role UChicagoTech can play in technology commercialization,” Fisher says.

Source: UChicago Tech