2013 Winner: Outstanding Science and Technology Startup sponsored by NAIT
An Alberta-based technology company, Orpyx® Medical Technologies, was established specifically to address the world’s growing epidemic of diabetes.
The neurological damage that leaves diabetic patients unaware of serious complications can lead to infection and ulcers in the feet. More than 15 per cent of all diabetic patients will suffer from diabetic foot ulcers over the course of their disease. Amputations cost the U.S. Health system an estimated $29 billion in 2007.
Founded in 2010, Orpyx has created the world’s first diabetic insole sensory substitution system, SurroSense Rx™ and SurroGait Rx™. The system uses wearable sensor-based detection technology that allows diabetics to better cope with complications of the disease and improve their quality of life.
Orpyx’s mission is to become the world leader in innovation of the technology.
“We’re the first movers in field,” observes Dr. Breanne Everett, founder and CEO of Orpyx. “We can have the most significant positive impact if we can commercialize quickly.”
Dr. Everett took a two-year hiatus from her residency in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Calgary to start the company.
“It’s my duty as a doctor to bring a new device to patients who need it,” says Dr. Everett. “We’re trying to build a viable business, but the focus is always on the patient needs and how we can provide that.”
She and a team of advisors and professionals have developed a collection of systems that will make a difference to people with diabetic foot complications and their health providers.
“Orpyx was my dream. To make it become real I gathered a critical mass of people who have helped me do that,” Dr. Everett says. “I am inspired and humbled by their dedication to our clients and to the company.”
The SurroSense Rx collects pressure data from the feet, wirelessly sending that information to the user via an ergonomic wristband display or mobile app. Users are alerted to when pressure-induced damage is occurring so they can alter their behavior and avoid devastating consequences. The mobile health application stores data and tracks the user’s alert history and response times, which helps the patient’s health care team to better plan patient care.
Dr. Everett says the wristband was not initially planned for, but a number of users preferred that over a mobile app, so the team developed one immediately.
“The advantage of being a small company is that we can pivot quickly,” she says, referencing the wristband decision. “Our culture is not engrained and that is fun and a bit scary. The uncertainty is what keeps all engaged.”
Orpyx is in the process of securing a national U.S. sales channel deal with an orthopedic and prosthetic distributor with 700 clinics, representing a 35 per cent of market share.
Given the projected cost-savings of the SurroSense Rx and SurroGait Rx systems and their potential to function as preventative and therapeutic devices, the products indicate the path to the future of diabetic foot disease.