Wearable infusion must replace ‘coat hangers on wheels’
Infusion poles. A familiar sight to anyone who has ever walked into a hospital. Surely this could be different? The Groningen-based startup IV Wear certainly thinks so. Say goodbye to that clumsy pole and hello to wearable infusion.
IV Wear is a story of perseverance, seeing opportunities and of coincidences. Melcher Frankema, a student of Private Law, was at the basis of the startup, together with doctor Maximilian Heintzen and biomedical technologist Niels Weijermans: “Next to my studies, I did an entrepreneurial course at the Centre of Entrepreneurship at the University of Groningen. Just to see if it was something for me. That’s where Professor Bart Verkerke showed a picture of an infusion bag that was tied to an arm instead of to a pole. I couldn’t let go of the idea, it kept going through my head. I decided to call the professor and he told me he’d just had Maximilian on the line. He experienced exactly the same thing during that course.
And suddenly there was a team with a lawyer and a doctor. Verkerke thought that someone with technical knowledge should be added. That became Niels Weijermans, who wanted to write his thesis on wearable infusion.
Frankema: “That’s how we began developing. Niels was involved in the technology, Maximilian collected information from the medical world. I started looking for what’s already out there in this field in the world, and what the opportunities for our company could be. One of the important things we discovered is that a traditional infusion pole is very bad for patients’ self-confidence. Such a pole immediately labels you as being very ill.”
IV Wear has the answer: an infusion, lunchbox size, which can be carried in a bag in various ways. Simply put in the infusion bag, close it and you’re done. Sounds obvious. And yet the startup has been working on the concept for several years. It will also take another few years before the first patients will be able to use the Ivy One (as the prototype of the wearable infusion is called).
Pump is the real invention
One of the main problems such a wearable infusion must overcome is gravity. Infusion bags on poles automatically drip the fluid down. This is not possible if the infusion bag is in a pouch on your hip. Frankema: “Our pump is essentially the real invention. This is also patented by the University of Groningen. It is a very small, strong and reliable pump. A kind of telephone battery is inserted that lasts for 24 hours.
The pump is so revolutionary that it also enables applications other than those in wearable infusions. “That’s something for the future. We’re initially focusing on the wearable infusion. That’s where we want to show what we can do and that was also the reason for setting up IV Wear.”
In order to enter the relatively conservative medical world, IV Wear strives to change the process of installing infusions as little as possible. “Our Ivy fits the infusion bag that is standard throughout the
world. That’s something you don’t really see in existing wearable infusions. But it is very important.”
Positive effect on recovery
A healthy mind undeniably helps to heal the body. In addition, people with a wearable infusion have more freedom of movement and will therefore be inclined to exercise more, or encouraged to do so by medical staff. This also has a positive effect on the recovery process, the entrepreneurs assume.
“These are all advantages that we are listing, so that we can show how it all adds up for hospitals and care institutions. With our product, you also save costs in the end because patients can go home earlier, besides it being much more comfortable for patients.”
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