uHealth targets pharmacies with asthma monitoring device
Sydney-based digital healthcare company uHealth has partnered with publicly listed device manufacturer iSonea to begin distributing the AirSonea asthma device in pharmacies, as well as direct to consumers online.
AirSonea was listed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in August and is due to go global next year. It is the world's first digital device for monitoring wheeze and comes with an AsthmaSense app that helps track symptoms, triggers, wheeze, peak flow measurements and medication usage.
The device itself is held against the throat to record levels of wheeze, with the measurements sent to the AsthmaSense Cloud, where measurements and progress are recorded and can be shared with healthcare providers.
The AirSonea device is the latest in digital devices being launched by uHealth, which was established earlier this year by medical device commercialisation specialists Will Knox and Jeff Reid.
The duo, who both have commercial and clinical backgrounds, have set up the company to not only distribute medical devices but to explore the emerging 'digital health' sphere, which they define as the convergence between digital technologies such as social networking, mobile connectivity and bandwidth with wireless sensors, genomics, imaging and health information systems.
In May, the company launched the WiTouch Pro in Australia, the first wireless remote controlled transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) device for consumers.
The WiTouch Pro includes two thin, lightweight pads that the user attaches to their lower back using replaceable adhesive gel pads. An automatic 30-minute treatment program is applied using a patented TENS waveform and is activated via a small remote control that also allows the user to increase or decrease the treatment intensity wirelessly.
The device is small enough to be worn discretely under clothing, and contours to the user's back to maintain comfort and full surface contact.
uHealth is also distributing LUMOback, a posture sensor and mobile app that measures lower back spinal posture and allows users to monitor and track it. The device uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with the app and is compatible with the most current versions of the iPhone, iPad and iPod.
Mr Knox said the pair had both worked in various roles in management and commercialisation with medical device companies such as Cochlear and Medtronic. Mr Reid started his own spinal implant business in 2007, which he later sold to LifeHealthcare.
“That's where we came into contact and started thinking about where the next wave of medical technology is coming from and what the future is,” Mr Knox said. “We were thinking that this digital health space was something that we wanted to explore a bit further.”
uHealth is both a distributor of digital health products but also a marketing and commercialisation company that looks to partner with product developers. It has partnerships with Byron Bay-based industrial design company Katapult Design, and with Melbourne-based device engineering firm Procept Engineering.
“Most of the technologies that we are bringing into Australia are in fact start-ups ... but all of these technologies are very new,” Mr Reid said. “Most of our digital products are devices that are paired with smartphones that tap into their computing power to more effectively allow patients to manage their chronic diseases.”
Many of the devices are beautifully designed – for example, the WiTouch Pro, which was designed by Katapult Design, won the international red dot product design award this year. Mr Reid said the company was looking to piggy-back on Apple's philosophy of simple but elegant industrial designs.
In addition to bringing internationally developed devices to market, the company is also looking to develop its own digital health technology.
“We offer distribution but also local innovation, so we partner with universities and local design firms to bring some of their technologies to market using the clinical and evidence-based medicine experience that we've got,” Mr Reid said.
The company will only focus on evidence-based devices that are TGA regulated rather than consumer apps.
“One of the key focuses for our business is not just bringing an activity wristband to market telling you how far you have walked today,” Mr Knox said. “It is around bringing in clinically sound and validated solutions for chronic disease management that involves patients as well as the physician.
“The physician gets the benefit out of the patient using the device as well because there is a collaborative approach to chronic disease.”
uHealth is working with iSonea to begin a marketing push for the AirSonea device in pharmacies, and to extend its use beyond the consumer to involve the pharmacist, GPs and respiratory physicians.
Posted in Allied Health