AirStrip acquires Sense4Baby assets from West Health

By Brian Dolan
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Sense4Baby Model BSan Antonio, Texas-based mobile healthcare company AirStrip has acquired the assets of wireless monitoring startup Sense4Baby and licensed the associated technology that the startup was founded on from the Gary and Mary West Health Institute. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the transaction. Sense4Baby raised $4 million from The West Health Investment Fund in early 2013.

The FDA-cleared Sense4Baby offering is a packaged kit that includes the wearable monitoring device and either a dedicated smartphone or tablet with pre-loaded Sense4Baby software. The company also offers providers a web-based portal that allows them to view or review all that data entered through the mobile app as well as the monitoring data. The December 2013 FDA clearance for Sense4Baby made it available for providers to use to conduct non-stress tests on high risk pregnancy patients in clinical settings.

In a statement, AirStrip said it plans to roll out Sense4Baby to providers as planned, but it also aims to develop a version of the offering that patients can use at home.

While AirStrip's smartphone and tablet-based vital signs monitoring offerings have evolved to considerably over the past few years, its original offering AirStrip OB -- one of the first iPhone medical apps to secure FDA clearance -- has some obvious parallels to Sense4Baby's technology.

At the time of the acquisition, Sense4Baby had mostly been used as part of user evaluation studies at academic and research centers. The company’s first commercial deployment was in The Netherlands, where the company said there is an advanced system already in place for home health care and Sense4Baby is being used alongside a number of other mobile health technologies. In that country midwives are sent to the homes of high risk pregnant patients to perform the non-stress tests, and Sense4Baby had hoped to collect data related to cost savings for these tests, since the women did not have to make a costly trip to the hospital for them.

Sense4Baby was the first company to be created at the West Health Institute, which researched the project, incubated it, and served as its sole investor. Sense4Baby licensed its IP from the West Health Institute, too. Nicholas Valeriani, manager of the West Health Investment Fund and chief executive of West Health told MobiHealthNews in an interview that AirStrip's acquisition of Sense4Baby's assets will best position the technology to help the greatest number of high risk pregnancy patients in the US.

"Our real desire is to enable the most rapid and pervasive deployment of the technology for the benefit of the public good where it can make an impact on high quality care at the lowest possible cost," Valeriani said. "Take a product like Sense4Baby and think about the market developments necessary to get it pervasively utilized -- that investment and timeline as compared to incorporating this into the channel and footprint of an AirStrip. Our thesis is we can affect more people with the asset in AirStrip's hands as opposed to trying to build a standalone entity."