Clearly Seeing the Benefits of Portable Ultrasound

by | Mar 31, 2021 | Companies, Mentoring

Continuous and less-invasive patient monitoring can be a game changer for critically ill patients and the providers who treat them. 

The newest Fogarty Innovation startup, Flosonics Medical, is breaking new ground in this area with its FloPatch, a low cost, easy-to-use, wearable Doppler ultrasound sensor that is improving the management of critically ill patients at the point-of-care, such as in the ICU, emergency room and operating room. The device provides hands-free blood flow assessments by sending data wirelessly to mobile devices using low energy Bluetooth. 

The company recently received a $14 million round of funding led by Arboretum Ventures and has been cleared by both the FDA and Health Canada. Flosonics joined Fogarty Innovation’s Company Accelerator Program (CAP), which is designed to help startups clearly focus on their opportunity, and identify and overcome barriers to success through a targeted, concentrated and intensive six-month mentoring program.

A multi-disciplinary team contributes to success

The company is led by Joe Eibl, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO; and Jon-Emile Kenny, MD, co-founder and chief medical officer, who were roommates and close friends at the University of British Columbia and later reconnected when Jon finished his residency fellowship and Joe earned his Ph.D. in Biomolecular Science. They were soon joined by Joe’s brother Andrew Eibl, as chief operating officer, and Sachit Harish, as chief financial officer.

Given their different skillsets and backgrounds, the team is uniquely qualified to innovate by tackling an issue from all sides. “Each of us has different personalities, strengths and preferences for what we like to work on. It means we can all make progress separately, while moving together as one,” Joe says.

Changing the paradigm

During Jon’s fellowship in pulmonary and critical care at Stanford Hospital, he noted the strong evolving interest in bedside ultrasound for the care of critically ill patients. While ultrasound has been around for a while, it has largely been under the purview of specialists who would order and interpret it as a separate, formal test in the radiology lab.   

However, increasingly over the past decade, intensivists, emergency room physicians and anesthesiologists have taken that ultrasound paradigm to the patient’s bedside, which allows for faster readings. Often referred to as the “21st century stethoscope,” the current ultrasound gives you a snapshot so can make instant decisions.

Flosonics has emerged from this growing interest and is taking ultrasound to the next level by using it as a monitor that relays meaningful information hands-free.

“We’re working toward our ideal of the ‘democratization’ of ultrasound, taking something that formerly was only used by specialists, then has moved to physicians, and now with our device will progress to include nurses and paramedics,” says Joe. 

“As a wearable monitor, FloPatch will allow anyone – from a respiratory therapist to a medical student – to glean information,” explains Jon. Eventually the goal is that any patient who needs to self-monitor can use it.

Joining Fogarty Innovation

The team had previously partnered with the Sunnybrook Research Institute, a global leader in ultrasound and medical imaging, and out of that ecosystem received their first round of venture funding. However, they knew that while Canada offered a vibrant technology ecosystem, it often lacks the ability to move companies to the next stage of commercialization, which is why they have turned to Fogarty Innovation.

As first-time founders, the Flosonics team feels they will greatly benefit from the deep expertise Fogarty offers. “Any time we’ve been able to take advantage of great mentorship, we know that we as leaders, the company and ultimately the patients have benefited from it,” says Joe. “Fogarty Innovation is a first-in-class network of medtech, innovators, entrepreneurs and clinicians who have brought companies from an idea to a new standard of care, and we look forward to how it will help us improve.”  

A bright future

Flosonics’ most recent round of funding will be used for the commercial launch in North America and new product development.

“Just giving someone a monitoring device isn’t enough these days, as devices are moving away from being something that’s just a ‘standalone’ to becoming a clinical solution,” Jon explains. “I think that’s where we’re uniquely positioned as we can help clinicians better serve their patients, especially in the highly acute clinical setting.”

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