GRAND RAPIDS — The $1 million raised from investors brings The Patient Co. closer to the marketplace for a device designed to assist nurses and other care providers in safely moving patients.
The Mayo Clinic led the bridge financing round for the Grand Rapids-based Patient Co., which also has offices in Detroit, Traverse City and Scottsdale, Ariz. Investors who joined the Mayo Clinic in the bridge round include East Lansing-based Red Cedar Ventures, Lansing-based Quantum Medical Concepts, Grand Rapids-based Hughes Ventures LLC, Dallas-based Hughes Ventures and Atlanta, Ga.-based Bravos LLC.
The funding will support the company as it pursues federal regulatory approval this fall for the SimPull device, continues R&D for additional function, scales up production and launches its product in the first half of 2023, said Ryan Peters, co-founder and chief operating officer for The Patient Co.
“We’re on the launch pad and getting ready to take off,” Peters told MiBiz.
Using technology licensed from Spectrum Health that originated with an idea from a clinician, the company developed SimPull as a way to prevent muscle strains or back and other injuries for nurses and caregivers, and to drive efficiency and eliminate waste from single-use air mattresses often deployed to move patients. Instead of taking several people to move a patient from a bed to a gurney, the SimPull device allows a single caregiver to do it.
For example, the device gently slides a patient from a hospital bed and onto a gurney for transport to a surgical procedure or diagnostic test such as a medical scan.
The Patient Co. has been testing the device at hospitals in the U.S., including with caregivers at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids and at Lansing-based Sparrow Health System.
“Unfortunately, we’ve all seen firsthand how some colleagues have been injured transferring patients. The good news is this device automates that process while streamlining day-to-day operations,” Tony Bailey, a clinical innovation consultant at Sparrow Health, said in an announcement of The Patient Co’s. bridge finding. “SimPull truly is a device designed for clinical caregivers by clinical caregivers.”
Federal regulations require that a clinician lift no more than 35 pounds at a time. That means it usually requires several people to move a patient laterally, particularly bariatric patients.
SimPull requires two clinicians to operate under current guidelines, although it could be operated with one person. The device also takes just a couple of minutes to use, avoiding delays in gathering staff. At a time when hospitals are experiencing chronic staff shortages, The Patient Co. bills SimPull as helping to address a growing problem.
“We’re living through the most difficult time in history to be a bedside nurse. Everyone knows about the nursing shortage, and it seems nearly everyone we meet with has been hurt or knows someone personally who has been hurt at the bedside. Typically, it’s while they’re moving patients,” said co-founder and CEO Andrew Heuerman. “Our sole purpose as a company is to support clinicians by saying enough is enough. With their support, we’ll continue to reimagine how patients are moved, in all care settings, and we’re proud of the impact this makes.”
Based on testing at health systems that have used the device, plus feedback from nurses at a trade show and from a large medical device company, The Patient Co. has altered SimPull’s final design.
One change led to designing a battery into the device to make it more portable, rather than relying on AC power, Peters said. The company also extended the straps used in the device to better assist in moving bariatric patients.
“We’re out in the market and we’re listening to the clinicians that are providing that voice of the customer,” Peters said.
The Patient Co. previously raised $1 million in 2021 to support SimPull’s development. The capital round attracted about a dozen investors that include Spectrum Health, Red Cedar Ventures, Invest Detroit Ventures, MedTech Ventures, and Quantum Medical Concepts, the early-stage investment fund the Michigan State Medical Society formed in 2017.
The company plans to raise further capital with a Series A capital round in 2023 after the product launch, Peters said.