The US Department of Veterans Affairs recently announced a regional rollout that it will make a connected device for diabetic foot ulcer detection available to veterans across the country as of December 1.
The platform, developed by Somerville, Massachusetts-based Podimetrics, is already being used at 15 of the department’s medical centers, and according to the VA will also be included in an upcoming pilot program being implemented in the southeast part of the country.
“VA’s early adoption of cutting edge, innovative solutions to combat a disease that impacts so many veterans is another example of how VA is aiming to be a leader in health care innovation,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement. “VA is uniquely positioned in its ability to test and quickly scale new solutions throughout its health care system, which can drastically change veteran lives.”
WHAT’S THE IMPACT
Podimetrics’ SmartMat platform consists of a cellular-connected in-home mat and a clinician dashboard. By standing on the device for 20 seconds each day, the platform collects and analyzes foot temperature scans that are then communicated to the clinician if worrisome results are detected.
The VA is banking on this technology making a major impact on its diabetic foot ulcer population, more than 75,000 of whom the department said it treated just last year.
It’s basing this bet on a VA-led study of the mats from 2017, in which researchers found a 97% rate of diabetic foot ulcer detection as soon as five weeks before symptom onset. Further, the same study found 86% of participants to use their provided mat roughly three times per week.
THE LARGER TREND
Podimetrics enjoyed a $13.4 million Series B funding round about half a year ago, and at the time signaled its interest in continued business with the VA.
Still, the company has some competition when it comes to devices and platforms designed for diabetic foot ulcer care. In late 2017, Wellpepper unveiled a diabetes support platform consisting of a scale, foot scanner and mobile interface along with Amazon Alexa voice functionality. Others like Siren and Orpyx Medical Technologies have taken a wearable approach to detecting the ulcers by employing smart textiles and in-shoe sensors, respectively.