LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 29, 2021 – In February, The West Coast Consortium for Technology & Innovation in Pediatrics (CTIP) announced the launch of its 2021 Health Equity FlexGrants, a limited grant opportunity with award amounts up to $15,000 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 Health Equity grant proposal must have met CTIP's minimum criteria to receive support and were evaluated on the following criteria:
“CTIP is well aware of systemic barriers within the healthcare system, especially as it related to pediatrics. Based on the strength and numbers of the applications we received, it is encouraging that medical device innovators are building with health equity in mind. I remain hopeful that many medtech innovators will continue to create impact in this space.” said Kathryne Cooper, MBA, CTIP Co-Director.
Proposals included devices at every stage of development, predominantly in the prototype phase, of which 53% were Class II devices. Solutions were evenly distributed across all pediatric age subgroups: newborns (birth to one month), infants (one month to 2 years), children (2 to 12 years old), and adolescents (12 through 21 years old). Diagnostics, neonatology, and infection control were the most common of the 15 different pediatric subspecialties reported.
Across the US, many communities face health gaps that have only gotten wider due to systemic and institutional barriers. Pediatric health in general is underfunded and undersupported, which further compounds with other inequities. CTIP Director, Juan Espinoza, MD, CTIP PI and Director, emphasized “These FlexGrants are one way that we can incentivize, support, and amplify innovators who understand that importance of viewing healthcare through an equity lens, and in response to that, have designed technologies, partnerships, and business models that tackle these issues head on.”
CTIP is proud to announce the four winners for the 2021 FlexGrants as follows:
The Dioptra Speculum Sleeve is a patent-pending, FDA-funded, adolescent-to-adult OB/GYN medical device that takes the standard Metal Speculum (an outdated device rooted in historical medical racism and oppression) and improves it in patient comfort, temperature neutrality, and cost to clean.
Health Equity Impact: Women’s health, like pediatric health, has been historically neglected and underfunded. Adolescent women live this dual bias during their first experiences in gynecologic, sexual, and reproductive care. Dioptra’s innovative approach to recentering that experience around patient comfort is a much needed update to a 100+ year-old technology developed through the exploitation of slave women in the 1800s. www.dioptra.co
The Kangarobe™ makes kangaroo care in the NICU easier and safer.
Health Equity Impact: In the US, women of color experience higher preterm birth rates than their white counterparts, and prematurity is the leading cause of death among Black infants. Kangaroo care has been shown to be beneficial to both infants and mothers, but women of color are more likely to be discouraged from kangaroo care by NICU nurses. The Kangarobe begins to address these issues as a safe device to enable kangaroo care, allow for care standardization, and minimize the role of bias in medical decision making. www.kangarobe.com
Happiest Baby, Inc. – maker of the SNOO Smart Sleeper – received a grant to support a research study with Brigid’s Path, a newborn recovery center that supports mothers and infants affected by substance use disorder. As part of the project, mothers discharged from Brigid’s Path will receive a SNOO rental to promote continued infant development and maternal/infant bonding.
Health Equity Impact: Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) is caused by drug exposure in the womb and disproportionately affects low-income communities (a result of the relationship between drug policies, criminal justice, and the perpetuation of cycles of poverty in the US). Sleep dysregulation is a major component of NAS, and non-pharmacologic interventions are the recommended first line, but are time consuming and can be emotionally and physically exhausting for parents already facing a number of other challenges. A new research partnership with Brigid’s Path, a newborn recovery center in Ohio, will explore the efficacy of the SNOO device as a non-pharmacologic intervention for NAS. www.happiestbaby.com
Health Equity Impact: the iPill device addresses two related inequities in the US: the opioid crisis that predominantly impacts low-income communities, and the continued practice of undertreating pain in patients of color. By creating a tamper-proof home dispenser for opioids, the iPill dispenser limits accidental or intentional access to controlled substances. The ability to destroy unused medication, controlled dispensing, and medication adherence tracking enable health care systems to take steps towards addressing unequal prescribing practices and standardizing care. www.ipilldispenser.com