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kidney transplant by increasing the blood flow to the new kidneys.”


As of 2020, there may be a fourth use: namely improving circulation in Covid-19 patients, who are prone to blood clots as a result of the disease. Other intensive care patients may benefit too. “The idea of having a product that can be utilised in many high-risk patient groups in a hospital environment is really where we’re looking to play,” says Ross.


The best of both


Sky Medical Technology’s geko devices can be used for a range of applications, adding up to a total market opportunity of over £1bn.


$81.5bn


Global spending on wearable devices in 2021, an 18.1% increase on 2020.


Gartner 40


Technology’s geko. The device is indicated for at least three different issues: the prevention of venous thrombosis; the prevention and treatment of oedema; and wound therapy applications in hard-to-heal leg ulcers. Sky Medical Technology says the total market opportunity in each of these areas stands at £202m, £282m and £603m respectively. What’s unusual about the device is that it’s a medical device inspired by a consumer product, rather than the other way round. Bernard Ross, CEO and founder of Sky Medical Technology, started out by looking at flight socks for deep vein thrombosis (DVT) prevention – only to realise the technology had profound implications elsewhere. “Although we could think of many medical products that had disseminated into consumer healthcare, we couldn’t think of anything that had gone from full commoditisation at a retail level back into proper hospital care,” he says. “The real risk of blood clots is not in civil aviation – the real risk is in a hospital environment, so prevention is really important. We also created a technology brand called OnPulse that may be more suitable for the retail market, when we decide to go into that area.” Having taken the geko into the hospital market for DVT prevention, the company began to notice some additional applications. Because it works to increase blood flow in the legs, it can speed up wound healing in people with poor circulation. It can also reduce swelling after a knee operation. “We’re doing a randomised controlled trial in wound healing that’s delivering superb results in our interim analysis and should complete this year,” says Ross. “There have also been studies in Canada, in patients who have a build-up of oedema in the legs after a kidney transplant. The geko device was shown to significantly reduce the swelling after a


In terms of where the boundaries lie between consumer and medical wearables, Ross points out that there are still some significant differences between the two. For instance, healthcare providers tend to favour single-use or single-patient disposable products, whereas multi- use rechargeable devices are preferred within consumer settings. However, he thinks both types of devices need to strive for ease of use. Even when the care providers are the ones operating the device, it does need to be comprehensible to the patient. “If a patient doesn’t believe in the care you’re providing, then compliance becomes extraordinarily poor,” he says. “With our technology, you feel a pulse once a second as the electrical signal goes into the nerve – which means as soon as you put it on a patient, they say they can feel it working. That is very calming, and they have no problem relaxing or sleeping with it on. In that regard, we do feel that the understanding of a wearer’s experience is relevant to both the consumer and medical markets.”


Over time, the company is looking to incorporate Bluetooth technology into the device, allowing it to communicate with the cloud and giving options for remote patient monitoring. “We all know that there’s nothing more expensive than a product that isn’t used properly – and if a patient doesn’t comply with the protocol, you have less chance of getting a beneficial outcome,” says Ross. “Reimbursements, particularly in the US, are increasingly focused on monitoring patient compliance. And our technology is moving in that direction as well, as we move into a world in which care is increasingly going to be provided outside of a hospital environment.” It’s clear, then, that while the difference between patient and consumer is blurring, this is a nuanced subject that will throw up different answers depending on the type of device. As telemedicine becomes more prevalent, we can expect to see many strong examples of devices that combine the best of both markets. ●


Medical Device Developments / www.nsmedicaldevices.com


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