Innovation at ACC | ACC's Innovation Pitch Challenge Goes Global

Plus: Making the Pitch: A Look at Biofourmis

Innovation knows no borders and solving our common challenges in cardiovascular medicine is a global endeavor. ACC's vision of a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes led to taking its popular Innovation Pitch Challenge to the ACC Asia Conference held in Shanghai last December.

In partnership with Yiming 1M Data, based in Beijing, ACC opened the Pitch Challenge to startups across Asia. Five finalists made their presentation to an audience of conference participants and a panel of four judges who are key opinion leaders within China, the Asian region and the U.S.

The clinical challenges addressed by these companies reinforce just how borderless and universal these clinical problems are and how together we can best find winning solutions for our patients.

Biofourmis, the winner of the challenge, is using artificial intelligence (AI) to predict and prevent clinical exacerbations. Bosomeer Biotech Ltd., is working on cardioprotection in adjuvant radiotherapy. Kenzen has developed proprietary technology and biomarker analysis to predict and prevent avoidable health conditions.

Suzhou Acmedcare Medical Technology is creating a medical platform ecosystem connecting people, data and mHealth services. Shanghai Maigan Technology is focusing on developing medical-grade wearables based on pulse wave analysis.

"ACC is a global organization, committed to representing and serving all of our members. I feel hosting an Innovation Pitch Challenge at our regional conference allows us to do two very important things," says John Rumsfeld, MD, FACC, ACC's chief innovation officer. "First, play an important role in identifying, supporting and empowering health care innovators build an inspiring community on a national and international level. Second, it helps us get one step closer to fulfilling our mission by providing our members with a voice and front row seat to experience how innovation is helping transform and improve cardiovascular care."

Making the Pitch: A Look at Biofourmis

Biofourmis started with the dream of preserving life or quality of life, says Kuldeep Singh Rajput, PhD, and Mark W. Niu, PhD.

Founded in Singapore, Biofourmis discovers, develops and delivers clinically-validated, software-based therapeutics to provide better outcomes for patients, advanced tools for clinicians to deliver personalized care and cost-effective solutions for payers.

Using its proprietary, personalized AI-empowered health analytics platform called Biovitals, data are collected from clinical-grade wearable biosensors along with other patient-generated data from smartphones for earlier detection of clinical deterioration in individual patients. By providing the right and timely information to the care team, the goal is to improve at-home management of patients with complex medical conditions.

"We started with heart failure, aiming to reduce the number of readmissions and emergency visits for patients with chronic and postoperative conditions," says Rajput and Niu. "We also built a pipeline to target multiple therapeutics areas like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute pain, oncology and rare diseases like multiple sclerosis."

BiovitalsHF uses software (along with wearable biosensors, adjunctive pharmacotherapy and live clinical support) to manage patients with heart failure. Rajput and Niu note that less than 1 percent of patients with heart failure are on the correct dose of medication and one in four patients is rehospitalized within 30 days of discharge.

This platform integrates readily available wearable biosensors, monitors patient physiology and uses advanced AI-based learning algorithms to build personalized health models that predict a patient's health deterioration, health improvement and therapeutic utility. This enables clinicians to intervene early and ensure patients are on optimal targeted medications, they say. This results in improved patient-centric outcomes including functional capacity, quality of life and overall heart health.

Making the Next Steps

Biofourmis is seeing early success globally, having commercialized its product in Singapore and the U.S., working with hospitals such as National Heart Centre Singapore and Changi General Hospital, as well as Mayo Clinic, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital, along with pharmaceutical companies such as Mundipharma and Novartis. Their Biovitals and BiovitalsHF platforms have been submitted for review to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and they anticipate this will provide them more commercial traction in 2019.

"Winning ACC's Innovation Challenge is a great testament to the technology platform we built and our vision of predicting and preventing serious medical events using data and technology," say Rajput and Niu. The feedback from the judges and clinical community on how the platform can be enhanced to ensure adoption was a clear benefit of participating in the challenge. They also note it gave them the opportunity to learn about the health care ecosystem and care pathways for localizing their product for the Chinese market. "We look forward to working with the China Cardiovascular Association and China Heart House," they add.

Advice For Other Start-Ups

"Using technology to solve a clinical problem is challenging and a long journey, especially adoption by the clinical community at scale," shares the winning duo. This obstacle requires clinical and health economic validation, regulatory approvals, integration into clinical workflows and solid operational capabilities. "Our thesis from day one has been to focus and invest heavily in generating evidence to demonstrate the clinical utility of the solution and outcomes."

Moreover, they note, flooding clinicians with more information does not guarantee adoption and improved outcomes. Hence, it is critical for companies to review current clinical practice and determine processes to replace/automate and focus on evidence generation to drive implementation.

They sum up their advice this way for tech start-ups seeking to develop products and solutions to improve clinical care and heart health:

  • Build a needs-driven solution that solves a problem within the health care industry and targets an unmet need.
  • Have the right team with relevant health care experience and key opinion leaders to advise and back you.
  • Be prepared for slow market penetration. Focus on evidence generation, regulatory approvals and reimbursement strategies.

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