LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - March 13, 2023 – The West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics (CTIP) announced the launch of its 2023 Health Equity FlexGrant, a limited grant opportunity with award amounts up to $10,000 to support pediatric medical device innovators who can apply or adapt their existing medical device to help address health inequities in pediatric care.
All companies who submitted a FlexGrant proposal must have met CTIP's existing requirements to receive support and were evaluated on the following criteria:
We were impressed by the response from medtech innovators developing pediatric devices that address systemic barriers in the healthcare system. Proposals included devices ranging from concept to commercial stage; the majority of submissions were in the early prototype and advanced prototype stage with 34.5% of submissions identifying as a Class II device. 2023 FlexGrant submissions evenly targeted all pediatric sub-populations: Newborn/Neonate (birth to one month), Infant (one month - 2 years), Child ( > 2 - 12 years old) and adolescents ( > 12 through 21 years old) with diagnostic, neonatology and infection control ranking as the most common of the 20 different pediatric subspecialties reported.
Across the United States, many communities face health gaps that have only been magnified due to systemic and institutional barriers. Pediatric health in general is underfunded and under supported, which further exacerbates other inequities. Our Health Equity FlexGrants are one way that CTIP can incentivize, support, and amplify innovators who understand the importance of viewing healthcare through an equity lens, and in response, have designed technologies, partnerships, and business models that tackle these issues head on.
CTIP is proud to announce the six winners for the 2023 FlexGrants:
Alerje builds emergency medicine & digital oral immunotherapy (OIT) solutions for 220M families worldwide impacted by food allergies. Our epinephrine auto-injector integrates into a smartphone case for improved patient adherence improvement and alerts. Our National Science Foundation validated OIT adherence platform collects, stores, analyzes, and distributes clinically relevant for families, allergists, insurers, & pharma.
Why they were selected: US epidemiologic data indicate that food allergy management tends to be suboptimal among patients with lower socioeconomic status. Among those groups, only non-Hispanic Black children were less likely to follow-up with an allergist after an emergency visit for food allergies. Hispanic children were less likely to fill an epinephrine prescription after an emergency visit for food allergies. Black and Hispanic children had a shorter duration of follow-up for food allergies with an allergy specialist and higher rates of food allergy related anaphylaxis. Funds will be used to transition the development of Alerje's device development to a contract manufacturing organization, focusing on any outstanding DFM updates.
Cast21 creates the world's only waterproof alternative to a cast or brace for broken bones that can be applied in seconds without water, heat, or electricity.
Why they were selected: Cast21 products are suitable for patients across a variety of sizes and dimensions. However, statistical data used to develop these measurements are not representative of diverse communities in the US or the world. There is a critical need to include racially and ethnically diverse participants in research projects. The proposed project will allow Cast21 to conduct its upcoming research project in Puerto Rico, ensuring that participants are representative of often marginalized and excluded communities. This data will help Cast21 create products and solutions informed by more diverse and representative patient data.
The Gus Gear Lock Series Model 3000 is a wearable comprehensive securement device designed to reduce complications and improve outcomes by protecting and securing abdominal feeding tubes and peritoneal dialysis catheters.
Why they were selected: Pediatric patients of low socioeconomic status who receive nutrition through a gastric feeding tube (FT) have been found to be at higher risk for complications and ED visits. A similar experience has been demonstrated in chronic kidney disease patients receiving peritoneal dialysis (PD). Gus Gear is developing a comprehensive securement product that will lock the FT or PD catheter in place within a protective covering, reducing mechanical complications, replacements, infections, and leakage. In this project, Gus Gear will work with families and patients from underserved communities to gather requirements and design insights for their next product.This will result in lowering healthcare access and emotional stress issues for the families of these patients, and improving clinical outcomes.
The Nanodropper Adaptor is an eyedrop bottle adaptor that decreases the volume of oversized eyedrops to reduce the cost, waste, and side effects associated with expensive prescription eyedrops.
Why they were selected: Pediatric myopia treatments, which can cost up to $4,000 per year, aren’t currently covered by insurance. Of the available treatment options, low-dose (0.01%) atropine delivered in the form of eyedrops is the most affordable treatment option, costing $30-$100/bottle/month. Despite being the most cost-effective option, these out-of-pocket costs are likely still cost-prohibitive for some families. Using Nanodropper with low-dose atropine eyedrops may provide a solution to this financial barrier to care. Nanodropper extends bottle life by 3x, so instead of paying $360-$1200/year for eyedrops, families would pay $120-$400/year. This project will focus on recruiting diverse participants from marginalized communities in order to better understand their experiences, needs, and the value proposition for them.
Endimetrix is a new digital saliva diagnostic tool useful to screen for endometriosis in adolescents who suffer from chronic pelvic pain.
Why they were selected: Endometriosis affects 10% of all adolescent girls and women in their reproductive age and accounts for 50% of chronic pelvic pain cases in ER clinics. CTIP is supporting Oratel Diagnostics New Endimetrix reader project by funding a saliva repository in partnership with Food Science Department at Ohio State to investigate the chemistry of how plant pigments can be used to track chemical responses in saliva that can indicate whether or not endometriosis is present. Young women face multiple systemic barriers to being diagnosed accurately and in a timely fashion with endometriosis, and this technology presents an opportunity to address this issue through a simple, non-invasive test. This study will focus on recruiting adolescents from diverse backgrounds as participants.
LinkedIn: Oratel Diagnostics
Wavely Dx is building a platform of smartphone-based remote diagnostics for pediatric care that provide on-demand physical exam findings, enabling pediatric visits to shift to virtual, starting with ear infections.
Why they were selected: Pediatricians rely on physical exams since children are typically not very good at describing physical symptoms, so today pediatric care requires a visit to the doctor with few options for using telehealth, and telehealth is a key component of improving access to care for people without it. Wavely is building diagnostic software-only apps that provide key physical exam findings for the main reasons kids go to the doctor. Our first four apps will unlock the key physical exam for 69% of acute pediatric visits, allowing them to shift virtual and reducing health inequalities by enabling highly convenient access to care from anywhere, at any time, by anyone. This project will allow Wavely to increase access by building out their Android platform, as android phones are more common among lower income communities.