Recently, Eden Exchange spoke with Ajit Ravindran, Co-Founder and CEO, as well as Will Yang, Chief Scientific Officer, from Lenexa Medical about their innovation, the Lenexa Smart Sheet, a technique designed to detect and prevent early stage pressure injuries with patients.
EdenExchange: Thank you for speaking with us, Ajit and Will. Firstly, can you tell us what sparked the initial creation of Lenexa? What is your background and experience?
Ajit Ravindran: Thanks for the opportunity. We are excited to share our story with your audience.
Lenexa Medical was born out of a Stanford influenced Biodesign Innovation course at the University of Melbourne. Inspired by what we’d learnt over the intensive one-year immersion at the intersection of medicine, engineering and business, we set our sights on solving a problem we live and breathe, pressure injuries. More commonly known as bed sores, they lead to 60,000 deaths per annum and cost the US, UK and Australian Health systems a combined total of over over $23B per annum. We developed a concept during the course that won top prizes at the 2017 University of Melbourne Engineering Endeavour Showcase.
I have over fifteen years of business consulting experience across financial services and healthcare, primarily focussed on delivering large transformation programs, products and services to the Australian market.
My co-founders Will and Martin are biomedical and electrical engineers respectively and have healthcare background. This makes a perfect combination to take an award-winning concept to the market.
EdenExchange: How did you find yourself in a leadership role with Lenexa Medical?
Ajit Ravindran: The timing worked perfectly for me. I finished my MBA and on the back of the University of Melbourne awards and with encouragement from my family, I focused on working full time on commercialising the product with my two co-founders.
We pitched our idea to Australia’s leading Medtech Accelerator program, The Actuator, and received $200K in seed funding and access to a rich ecosystem of experts in medical device innovation space. This included clinicians, product developers and regulatory experts.
EdenExchange: Tell us a bit about Lenexa Medical- what does it do?
Ajit Ravindran: Lenexa is an exciting new Australian MedTech company focused on improving health outcomes by offering a smart solution to prevent pressure injuries.
Pressure injuries are one of the top five most costly commonly occurring preventable conditions. The current standard of care is a subjective visual and tactile risk assessment, which has been described as ‘no better than a coin flip’. Our product, the Lenexa Medical Smart Sheet provides a more targeted, convenient, and cost-effective solution for clinicians and carers to prevent pressure injuries. The revenue model is based on a reusable sheet with a year-long life of use.
Market entry will initially focus on Intensive Care Units (ICU) before expanding to other wards and operating theatres. The money raised will be used to develop working pilot prototype systems that will be used to test product feasibility through pilot studies in a hospital setting. Clinical trials are also planned in 2019 in major Melbourne hospitals. Lenexa also plans to enter the US, its largest primary market, in mid-2020 to early 2021.
EdenExchange: Why is it that you’ve focused specifically on pressure injuries?
Ajit Ravindran: At some stage in our lives, most are us are going to find ourselves in a hospital. While we are there, there is one in seven chance of developing pressure injury, a devastating condition that affects about 350,000 cases per annum in Australia and 2.5 million cases in the US. This leads to the average person staying in hospital for an additional four days and increasing their chance of being readmitted to the hospital by 33%, all of which adds to the health burden.
On a personal note, I have had personal experience through a close member of the family coming close to dying through a preventable pressure injury.
Did you also know that Superman died from pressure injuries? Yeah, this thing killed “Superman”. The late actor Christopher Reeve died from a pressure injury infection in 2004.
EdenExchange: Talk us through the technology behind the Smart Sheet- how does it work and how does it set itself apart from other methods of pressure injury prevention?
Will Yang: The Smart Sheet is an ultra-thin sheet with in-built sensing capabilities that can be fitted to any patient contact surface. The system uses the sensor data and the patient’s own personal information, particularly pressure injury risk factors, and smart machine learning to output the patient’s pressure injury risk on an easy-to-read display. The clinician or caregiver will be able to see which area on the patient is at risk and will be able to implement preventative strategies as soon as possible.
The current standard of detection and prevention is a manual inspection by nurses who will need to physically roll the patient onto their side every two to four hours. It can take up to six nurses to roll a patient to do the inspection, which is not only extremely labour intensive but also the inspection itself is very subjective. Clinicians usually look and feel for things like redness and inflammation, which can be easily missed. Ultimately, this means that the protocol is not always adhered to and patients then get pressure injuries.
We’re trying to provide clinicians with a convenient tool that they can rely on. By using live sensing information and the patient’s own risk factors, we’re able to provide a targeted and personalised solution for preventing pressure injuries without the need to roll the patient over to inspect.
EdenExchange: What stage of development is your Smart Sheet currently in? What have been the indicative results of your prototype testing so far?
Will Yang: We currently have a working proof-of-concept benchtop prototype that we have tested and calibrated. It was actually showcased and we had a demo of it during Melbourne Knowledge Week’s Future Hospitals event back in May 2018. Since then, we’ve been working together with a couple of Australia’s leading product development companies to take our prototype to a full-scale product to medical device standards. We’ve completed feasibility testing with them and have verified the technology behind the concept is both scalable and able to be manufactured at a large scale. We aim to complete at least five hospital-standard prototypes that we will then use in pilot trials to start generating some data to refine the product.
EdenExchange: What makes you different from other solutions on the market? What gap in the market are you filling and why is it a good time to be servicing the healthcare industry?
Will Yang: Current solutions in the market are either not targeted, impractical, not affordable, or all of the above.
There are pressure mapping systems that only tell users how much pressure is at a certain point. Our device actually shows the user the patient’s pressure injury risk at a certain point. There are handheld detection devices that are accurate, but still require the patient to be turned to use, making them inconvenient and impractical.
There are also pressure relieving devices which can be both passive and active. If a patient is thought to be at risk, nurses will use passive cushions, gels or foams or put them on an active air mattress to relieve pressure. However, patients still get pressure injuries because this is not a targeted solution. Passive devices are placed at common at risk areas freely and active air mattresses inflate and deflate based on a timer. Again, none of these are tailored to the individual. Our goal is to complement these devices so that prevention strategies are targeted and personalised for each patient. Our device aims to fill the gap in the market for an affordable, effective, and convenient pressure-injury detection and prevention tool.
The current healthcare trend is a move towards value based healthcare and utilising customer data to offer better solutions through wearables and other monitoring devices. Lenexa Medical is well placed to be at the forefront and capitalise on this trend when we launch the product in the market place in 2020 that will offer quality health outcomes to hospitals, using machine learning and AI to better predict pressure injury risk from patient data.
EdenExchange: Where do you foresee the greatest demand? What has the response in the market been like to date?
Ajit Ravindran: Our primary market will be hospitals, followed by aged care, nursing homes and rehab centres.
The response to date from our market research has been overwhelmingly positive both on the urgent need to address this current need as well as our solution. We are working with clinicians across four leading public hospitals, three in Melbourne and one in Brisbane to develop our prototype.
EdenExchange: What are the next steps in the development for your company? Where do you see your business in three months as well as a year from now?
Ajit Ravindran: Our next steps are to develop prototype and conduct pilot studies before applying for TGA approval. The next twelve months are going to be exciting where we will develop the product and conduct clinical trials in Australia, before commencing initial roll-out in Australian hospitals.
In late 2020 – early 2021, Lenexa Medical also plans to conduct further trials in the US, before launching the device through distribution partners. UK and Asia are other markets in consideration for future years.
EdenExchange: Can you tell us a bit more about some key achievements and challenges the company has encountered so far? Do you see any potential future challenges?
Ajit Ravindran: Some of our notable achievement to date have been:
- Awards and recognition for our concept recognised as innovative and solving a clear market need. Endeavour, MTGT, Sunan/Jiangsu Cup, entry into the Actuator program and seed funding of AU$200K from VC firm Artesian.
- Built a working prototype that has been tested and technology verified by product development companies to be feasible and scalable.
- Lenexa Medical filed its provisional patent in 2017 and the application for the patent extends beyond healthcare into areas such as defense and robotics.
- Established a solid Advisory board including :
- Dr Fred Davis : Former CEO of Invetech with 30+ years of experience in advanced technology product development
- Dr Charne Miller : Senior lecturer and researcher in pressure injury and wound care at Latrobe University
- Dr Vinayak Smith: Clinician Scientist in MedTech specialising in early medical device innovation and trial design
- Prof David Graden: Head of Biomedical Engineering at University of Melbourne (Bionic Ear, Bionic Eye)
- Prof Michael Vitale : Entrepreneurship lecturer at Melbourne Business School and Angel Investor
Notwithstanding the uncertain macro climate in 2019, getting hospital adoption and speed to the market is key to success in this industry and Lenexa Medical is fortunate to have leading hospitals and access to experts who can help the team bridge the gaps to reach the market.
EdenExchange: What’s the best thing about your job? What drives you to do what you do?
Ajit Ravindran: Every day I remind myself that we are closer to a goal of saving many lives and avoiding unnecessary pain from pressure injuries, including saving billions of dollars to the health care systems across the world.
We strive for excellence and precision in everything we do. To date the team has hit every milestone and is tracking to plan to launch its product in 2020. I’m proud of what the team has achieved.
EdenExchange: Finally, is there anything you wish to say to anyone interested in pursuing further information about Lenexa Medical? Is there anything of note?
Ajit Ravindran: We are excited about our journey and would welcome anyone interested in finding out more about our life-saving technology which is to drive real change in patient care.
We invite you to come on board and help us save the next superman or superwoman. No Pressure!
Thank you, Ajit and Will. It has been a pleasure.
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