Lenexa Medical’s new technology to ease pressure for bed-bound patients

3 minute read

Older woman lying in bed reading in hospital

Pressure injuries are a prominent issue in hospitals and health care facilities worldwide – and cost Australia’s health system billions of dollars each year. The Melbourne-based start-up Lenexa Medical has developed an innovative, world-first product, LenexaCARE, to help in the prevention of pressure injuries by monitoring patient position and posture.

The outcome

Lenexa Medical was founded by two University of Melbourne graduates, Will Yang and Ajit Ravindran, who were inspired by their BioDesign Innovation course. The program is offered jointly by the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology and the Melbourne Business School to allow teams of MBA and Master of Engineering Students to collaborate with hospital clinicians to create new medical devices.

Mr Yang completed his Master of Biomedical Engineering, while Mr Ravindran completed his MBA at the University.

Together, they developed LenexaCARE, which uses the latest in sensor and machine learning technology to enable personalised pressure injury prevention by providing doctors and nurses with live feedback of patient position.

LenexaCARE has been listed on the Australian Register for Therapeutic Goods, allowing the business to sell its product to hospitals and healthcare facilities across Australia. LenexaCARE has also been recognised internationally, having recently been approved by the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority, and is on track for approval by the US Food and Drug Administration by the end of the year.

The product has three distinct components. First, for the pressure sensor, the Lenexa team designed a unique sensor-enabled mattress cover with integrated sensors that detect over 7000 points of pressure. The technology is fully compatible with standard hospital mattresses used today. Secondly, the Lenexa hub collects relevant data and sends it to the cloud for processing. Thirdly, the Lenexa software application provides an interactive point where doctors and nurses can view live feedback about the patient’s position and pressure profile.

The need

Pressure injuries arise when prolonged pressure in one area causes mechanical damage and cuts off blood flow to the surrounding cells, resulting in cell death. They can be extremely painful and have adverse impacts on a patient’s health, family and daily life. In the US, 60,000 people die from pressure injuries every year.

In Australian public hospitals, pressure injuries are a significant issue, and the overall cost is estimated to be over $9 billion annually. The treatment of hospital-acquired pressure injures alone costs the Australian public hospital system $5.5 billion annually.* Patients who require long periods of hospitalisation are most at risk of developing pressure injuries, as prolonged immobilisation is one of the leading causes of pressure injuries.

In most instances, however, pressure injuries can be prevented by monitoring pressure on the body and periodically changing body positions to avoid prolonged pressure. However, keeping track of patient positions to avoid pressure injuries can be extremely hard, especially in a busy hospital where nurses and doctors must care for many patients concurrently. For staff, knowing if a patient needs to change position or if they have already moved themselves could make all the difference. LenexaCARE helps nurses and caregivers manage this, by keeping track of patient positions and movement, and alerting nurses when a patient requires moving.

“We wanted to develop a solution, not to replace nurses or healthcare providers, but to support them with a second pair of eyes,” Ajit Ravindran said.

“LenexaCARE serves as a non-intrusive, invisible guardian by utilising machine learning and AI to provide a targeted solution for the prevention of pressure injuries.”

Developing the solution

Mr Yang and Mr Ravindran were inspired to start Lenexa Medical following their involvement in the Biodesign Innovation course at the University of Melbourne. Led by Professor David Grayden, the course pairs engineering and business students together, and places them in a clinical environment to understand clinical challenges and help provide solutions for unmet medical needs.

“The Biodesign Innovation course laid the foundations in understanding the biodesign process and we were further supported by accelerator programs and government funding,” Mr Ravindran said. “If not for the biodesign program, we wouldn’t be where we are today with Lenexa Medical.”

As part of the discovery phase of the course, Will and Ajit spent around four months visiting hospitals and interviewing doctors, nurses and surgeons to gain insight into hospital ecosystems and challenges. They came up with a list of 40-50 unmet needs, but pressure injuries kept coming up as the most pressing issue.

“The most memorable conversation I had was with an anaesthetist when we were observing a surgery. He said that if he could see anything else on the patient monitoring screen, it would be great to know what pressures were occurring below the patient,” Mr Yang said.

“He explained that prior to surgery, setting up patients in the lowest pressure position possible was a serious challenge, especially when medical teams can’t be sure how long surgery might last, and that it is very hard to change a patient’s position during surgery.”

It was here, in the operating room, where the challenges of not knowing what was going on beneath the patient crystallised, and inspired Will and Ajit on their journey to develop LenexaCARE.

Funding

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