Gauss Surgical Measures Blood Loss with a Smartphone

With five startups under his belt, Stanford University professor Dr. Milton McColl has been at the forefront of the health startup world for over 15 years. This time, along with co-founder Siddarth Satish, he designed a smartphone application that aims to provide doctors and nurses with a way to accurately measure the amount of blood loss in surgical procedures. Satish said the app can report blood loss with up to 98% accuracy.

After taking a picture of surgical sponges used during a procedure with either an iPad or iPhone, the app computes the amount of blood loss in real-time. As it stands today, retrieving surgical sponges and assessing the blood loss in patients is something that is estimated typically by nurses, with no accurate way to retrieve the sort of information the Gauss Surgical app would provide.

McColl and Satish met at Stanford and decided to take their idea on the road, or to their backyard in fact, by developing the product through the startup accelerator program for Stanford students and alum, StartX. The program takes the most promising ideas and leads startups such as Gauss Surgical toward launching successful products.

Satish has a background in chemical engineering and has developed other medical devices such as a gastrointestinal stent removal system at Stanford. This combined with Dr. McColl’s extensive knowledge of startup hurdles has made them an ideal team. Their product could save patients from potential side effects related to blood loss such as anemia as well as save hospitals a lot of money on what may be unnecessary spending on blood transfusions.

“Gauss Surgical has garnered a lot of support from Anesthesiologists and the medical community, even managing to annex the president of the Society for Advancement of Blood Management to their advisory board,” said Dr. McColl.

“One of [our] key goals was our ability to bring software thinking and processes into our company, since we are at the intersection between medical devices and software,” Satish said. “A significant advantage in our business is the potential to grow the technology with low capital requirements.”

Rather than creating an entirely independent device, Gauss Surgical has managed to propel their product by using the iPad as the foundation for their system. By using the iPad or iPhone, their use of software in a medical device has significantly decreased the otherwise usually large capital needed to fund a similar product development.

Gauss Surgical closed its seed round of investments last winter and, after receiving FDA clearance, recently opened up five pilot sites for the app in undisclosed areas of interest that range from a veterans hospital, a large university hospital, and a tertiary cancer center. Pilots that establish the product’s ability to accurately measure blood loss to a high level of precision have already been completed.

“We see our product as the first mobile platform for the OR — and we think this will realize the vision of using mobile devices,” Satish said. This is indeed a true potential of Gauss Surgical. The company plans on launching its product in Fall 2012.

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