German medical technology manufacturers are benefiting from digitalization in the world of medicine. Companies who are members of SPECTARIS, the industry association, have calculated that they are experiencing growth rates of five percent for both the previous and present year. The industry association sees digitalisation as the main stimulus, and this mega trend can be seen internationally. Both large companies and start-ups around the world are making the most of it. Against this backdrop, it is not astonishing that MEDICA, the world’s leading medical trade fair in Düsseldorf which attracts over 5,000 exhibitors from around 70 countries, is becoming an even bigger hotspot for innovative young companies. From Monday to Thursday (MEDICA 2018 is on from 12 to 15 November), MEDICA will reflect the worldwide trend of digitalisation within the healthcare industry with a focus on start-ups.
New start-ups will give presentations every day in the “MEDICA DISRUPT” initiative, held within the scope of the MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM and the MEDICA App COMPETITION (Hall 15). A total of over 50 start-ups will storm the stage to present solutions for everything from treating skin cancer and chronic conditions (affecting the heart and lungs, for example) to telemonitoring and tracking of vital signs and activity. Exciting start-ups can also be found in the MEDICA START-UP PARK and on the joint stands, especially those hailing from France, Israel and Finland. Many offer solutions for the prevention and therapy of serious illnesses.
Detecting skin cancer early
The Magnosco start-up from Berlin will present its method for early detection of skin cancer using lasers at the MEDICA START-UP PARK (Hall 15). Skin cancer is the most common cancer. In Germany alone, over 200,000 people contract new cases of skin cancer every year. The basic process from Magnosco implements an innovative approach for early detection. Using a laser, melanin is stimulated and therefore illuminated in this patented technology. This fluorescence is mapped out. Under these conditions, cancer cells illuminate slightly differently than healthy cells. An algorithm recognizes these differences and calculates the probability of tissue disease. The procedure is very easy to carry out. The user doesn’t have to interpret images. The value that the device states is a measurement value and indicates the level of probability that malignant skin cancer is present. This is one of the few applications that can function without an app. Dermatologists and qualified general practitioners can use it right now, and dermatofluoroscopy can be used on living and isolated tissue.
Safety for the next generation
Some of the start-ups are taking on the trend that is flooding many countries, including Germany: Giving parents more security, particularly parents of children with chronic conditions. The London company Nachshon makes an impressive statement on their digital bed: “The Smart Cot is the most technologically innovative cot that has ever been produced.” It offers an inbuilt camera so that parents can monitor their baby and sensors are also integrated into the mattress, which are used to measure the child’s weight and body temperature. The bed gives out an alert if the baby stops breathing for 15 seconds. The blood oxygen monitor helps to keep an eye on the baby’s health. Image recognition enables parents to see how the baby is doing and to track the baby’s development and progress. Inbal Robbas, the founder of Nachshon, will present the Smart Cot from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday 12 November at the MEDICA DISRUPT Start-Up Session. The sessions on this day focus on innovative medical solutions that could save lives. In addition, Nachshon will appear at the MEDICA START-UP PARK throughout MEDICA 2018. The MEDICA START-UP PARK gives young, innovative companies the chance to appear before top decision makers from the medical industry and experts and personalities from the economic, research and political sectors.
Do you know how healthy your lungs are?
Even the classic stethoscope is going digital and becoming networked, and can now also be used by parents. “StethoMe” is a cordless stethoscope that laypeople can use to examine their children’s heart and lungs. This device was the winner in the Healthcare category at the IOT/WT Innovation World Cup 2018. The company wants to enable parents to check the function of their children’s airways anywhere, at any time and to exchange the data with medical experts. This can prevent many unnecessary trips to and stays in hospital for children with chronic lung conditions. The algorithms required for this device are optimized by artificial intelligence, which is used to improve the auscultation diagnosis significantly and make it accurate. To achieve this, a huge database of auscultation noises that had been characterised by specialists was evaluated. The objective is to qualitatively improve the diagnostics and therapy monitoring for chronic illnesses such as asthma.
Asthma patients can also benefit from the “FindAir ONE” app from Poland. Co-founder Tomasz Mike will present it on Monday 12 November at MEDICA 2018. FindAir ONE is a smart inhaler application that collects information on the inhaled medication dose and the environmental conditions in which it was inhaled. The patient and their doctor can thus gain important information that can help them to adapt their treatment to the individual at hand.
MEDICA 2018 will hold the 7th edition of the MEDICA App COMPETITION, the live competition for the best health app solution. All applications that were submitted before 30 September 2018 will be reviewed by a 10-person expert jury, who will select 10 start-ups to present their app solution for day-to-day use in hospitals, by patients or doctors live at the MEDICA App COMPETITION. The live pitch, where they will bid for victory, is built into a session in the MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM on Wednesday 14 November 2018.
Heart attacks and other emergencies
Rapid Response Survival, an Australian start-up, is also exploiting the opportunities that the MEDICA START-UP PARK and MEDICA DISRUPT have on offer. The CEO of the Australian start-up, Leanne Knowles, will answer questions on why automated external defibrillators (AEDs) don’t save lives and how she wants to change this on Wednesday 14 November. Before the market launch of her CellAED LifeSaver, she stated that she would revolutionise AEDs. The device is only a little larger than a smartphone. It goes into AED mode when both pads on the back of it are lifted off to be used. At the same time, it contacts the emergency services in the relevant country and sends them the GPS coordinates for the incident. It establishes whether the heart rhythm indicates a heart attack and instructs the user on what to do. This means that the helper has both hands free to carry out the instructions given by the device.
The Spektikor RAPIDA Indicator was also created for emergencies. The Finnish company says that their device is the smallest portable heart rate indicator in the world. The device will enable the heart rate to be perceived in almost any environment: when moving, in the dark and in a loud environment. A training simulator is already available for it. The device would therefore be ideal for use in chaotic multiple casualty incidents. Likka Ellila, the co-founder of Spektikor, will also take a look at the need for a cost-effective and easily implementable screening method for heart disease on Wednesday 14 November.
“Everyday Heroes” – see them at MEDICA
On Tuesday 13 November, the MEDICA DISRUPT program is still in full swing with its “Everyday Heroes” theme. The everyday heroes (the creative start-ups) present solutions that simplify our lives – from applications for looking after and caring for older people to those which measure blood pressure daily, provide retina screening or apps to ensure you’re taking the right dose of medication. Sport and fitness solutions are the main theme on Wednesday 14 November. Smart tracking solutions are part of the innovative medical offers which can improve your current level of health and athletic performance. “LogonU”, from Korea, which is also represented in the MEDICA START-UP PARK, uses data from sensors to define your level of health. Your “Match” simultaneously measures muscle activity and motion in real time. If your technique is poor during training, the sensors will vibrate and motivate you to correct it. The system can be adapted for numerous activities, for anything ranging from weight training to golf. LogonU applies scientific analysis to both sport and healthcare; it can also be used in physiotherapy, for example.
On the last day of MEDICA 2018 (15 November), the MEDICA CONNECTED HEALTHCARE FORUM will take a look at how start-ups can successfully get their products and services onto the market and which challenges they will have to overcome to achieve this. To this end, MEDICA DISRUPT brings start-ups together with other start-ups that have already passed these first roadblocks successfully.
Author: Dr Lutz Retzlaff, freelance medical journalist (Neuss)