VitalMedicals raises $1M to make Glass apps for surgeons

By Jonah Comstock
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vitalmedicals VitalMedicals VitalStream app with a fake patient in last year's simulated pilot study.

Stanford spinoff VitalMedicals has raised $925,000 to continue developing Google Glass software that helps surgeons be continuously aware of patients' vital signs while doing surgery. The company is closing a final investor that will bring the round up to $1.1 million, CEO Ash Eldritch told MobiHealthNews in an email. The round was led by a professional angel syndicate led by Mark Lefanowicz, with additional contributions from the Stanford StartX accelerator.

"In the Smart Hospital, clinicians will always have the critical information they need for the task at hand, intelligently delivered to their mobile device or smart glasses," the company wrote in a blog post. "Communication and information sharing with anyone will be just a tap or voice command away. We’re building the technologies that will power the smart hospital."

The company has two ongoing pilots in California, with El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, in addition to a pilot study at Stanford that MobiHealthNews reported last year. The funding will be used to build out VitalMedicals' team and launch additional pilots.

VitalMedicals currently offers three products, all of which can run either on smart glasses or on a tablet. VitalStream gives surgeons access to vital signs and alerts to anesthesiologists or circulating nurses during conscious sedation procedures. VitalVideo streams live video from endoscopic and flouroscopic cameras to a surgeon's field of view during surgery. Finally, VitalCom allows for intra-hospital communication via devices and smart glasses, including allowing smart glass wearers to share what they see via the glasses' front-facing camera.

In last year's study of VitalStream, 14 surgical residents performed simulated versions of thoracostomy tube placement and bronchoscopy surgeries. The traditional vitals sign monitor in the surgical room was present for all procedures, but half of the residents also had the vital signs streaming on a Google Glass app from VitalMedicals. The residents who used Glass referenced the in-room vitals monitor 88 percent less, but recognized a simulated critical drop in blood oxygenation 8.8 seconds before their control group counterparts. In the tube placement surgery, the simulated crisis was hypotension and the Glass users noted it 10.5 seconds earlier than the control group.

“During conscious sedation procedures where you don’t have an anesthesiologist, it’s just you and the nurse administering the medications, it’s unfortunately very common to get so focused in on the procedure and for the nurse to get distracted with all the multitasking that is required of them that you can lose sight of the patient’s vital signs and condition,” Dr. Oliver Aalami, a surgeon at Stanford Hospital and chairman of VitalMedicals, said in a video demo last year. “And what Google Glass provides through VitalStream is an amazing opportunity to have this information in front of your face when you need it and also when it’s critical, by getting alerts, for example when the blood pressure drops, when the oxygen saturation drops. So I see tremendous value being able to have vital signs on the Glass during procedures.”