It is estimated that close to a billion people suffer from elevated blood pressure, which according to the World Health Organization is one of the most important causes of premature deaths worldwide. Elevated blood pressure, or hypertension, is a major risk factor for coronary heart diseases, and the single most important risk factor for stroke.
To identify hypertension, clinicians rely on sporadic measurements using a blood pressure cuff, or sphygmomanometer. However, these single measurements only provide a snapshot of information. Blood pressure varies throughout the day and is highly dependent on situation. For example, one in three patients have elevated pressure during their doctor visit due to anxiety. Clinicians are forced to make diagnostic and clinical decisions based on these unreliable and inaccurate snapshots, and consequently millions live inappropriately on hypertension medications.
The startup Bold Diagnostics aim to disrupt the blood pressure monitoring market. They are developing a disposable wearable system that continuously measure blood pressure over a seven-day period. Their Bold band, worn around the arm as a watch, connect with smartphones and automatically generate reports that is seamlessly uploaded to the patient’s electronic medical record. This give clinicians better insights and more data to base their clinical decisions on, ultimately avoiding unnecessary treatments and increasing patient engagement in their own health.
Digital health is playing an important role in making healthcare more efficient, providing more information for clinicians to better assess potential health risks, and engaging patients and better help them manage their disease in the everyday life. Bold Diagnostics is taking full advantage of this, while at the same time differentiate themselves from other wearable systems with a different business model. Other digital health solutions often use direct-to-consumer strategies that often fail to hit the target population, consequently causing more stress and anxiety than good. Bold Diagnostics' disposable wearable technology is being made available through prescriptions, an interesting new approach that could see Bold Diagnostics have a bright future.
However, by making their solution disposable, they also close the opportunity of using the technology in some settings. For example, most digital health solutions have a much broader perspective. They do not only provide a diagnostic solution, but also monitor treatment efficacy, give clinicians insight into dosage, if it needs to be increased or decreased, and give doctors the possibility of choosing who needs their immediate care. This could be difficult with a disposable solution that only works for a set number of days. Developing a solution to this could be key in order for patients to prefer Bold bands over other digital health solutions.
Bold Diagnostics was created at Northwestern University’s Center for Device Development Graduate Fellowship Program, and recently won 3rd place in the LeanModel Competition at SDSU Lavin Entrepreneurship Center. The competition focus on assisting and rewarding student-based startups that utilize both a solid business model and customer testing mentality.