This Startup is Changing the Face of Neonatal Care with Predictive Analytics

Sanchi Illuri
March 28, 2022
Health Tech
Success Stories
ventureLAB Clients

More than 500 thousand babies are born prematurely in North America every year. The earlier a baby is born, the more likely they are to experience health problems - not only in their infancy, but throughout their life. Indeed, preterm birth affects the Canadian healthcare system more than any other chronic condition

In most cases, a baby’s care is managed by a number of medical staff who monitor complex devices that track everything from brain activity to heart rhythm. But that solution comes with challenges: devices often aren’t integrated with each other, so data can get missed or take a long time to process. Data isn’t real-time, which causes delays in detecting and diagnosing issues. And the data is managed by a disparate care team including doctors, nurses, and administration staff; there’s a lot of room for human error.

“The neonatal environment is tough in general because babies can’t give you any feedback. This is a small human, maybe four or five hundred grams, 4 or 5 or 6 months old. The only thing you can read is their physiological symptoms, their brain activity, heart rate.”  

- Harpreet Singh, Co-Founder, Child Health Imprints

Despite huge investments in instrumentation, NICUs - Neonatal Intensive Care Units, which treat preterm newborns for the first 28 days of their life -  do not provide clinicians with key information to deliver timely, personalized quality care. This is especially challenging because a single preterm baby can generate as much as 1.7 gigabytes of data a day. 

A Comprehensive Solution for Prenatal Care

It’s the kind of thing you probably don’t think about until it affects you directly. 

In 2011, Harpreet Singh and Ravneet Kaur lost their preterm child. Singh is a biomedical engineer and Kaur is a computer scientist specializing in data analytics. Between them they’ve successfully launched 3 startups and have over 20 years of entrepreneurial experience. In 2018, they created Child Health Imprints. 

“There’s not one single comprehensive solution that starts from birth until the discharge of the child from the hospital. Most medical devices in use are proprietary and vendor-specific - they talk to specific people or roles within an organization. Our solution can speak to any device that creates digital outputs.” 

- Harpreet Singh, Co-Founder, Child Health Imprints

Child Health Imprints converts real-time data into information that clinicians can act upon to improve patient care. Their aim is to enable care teams to make an early diagnosis of critical diseases, assist clinicians in real time recommendations of what should be done, and improve the health outcomes for preterm babies. Their product, iNICU, caters to various roles including nurses, doctors, pediatricians and administrators to virtually eliminate human error in neonatal health monitoring. 

Crucially, iNICU also offers live data monitoring that can be done anytime, anywhere - enabling clinicians to intervene immediately to improve neonatal outcomes.

“Variability in a baby’s heart rate is the first indication of an onset of symptoms,” says Kaur. “But it’s not always clinically observable. Babies are small and fragile with compromised immunity. Small issues can quickly snowball into larger ones in infant care - small changes in body temperature, a central line that isn’t sterile, irregularities in formula. Data can help clinicians intervene at the right time in the right way.”

Identifying the disease early on can not only have immediate impacts for child health, but longer term impacts as well, that continue through a person’s life.

“You can only improve things if you’re measuring them. Quality depends on good data.” 

- Harpreet Singh, Co-Founder, Child Health Imprints

Aside from the physical and emotional toll, premature birth can also have huge financial consequences. “Normal term babies have a delivery cost of $6,000. Preterm babies have delivery and care costs of $76,000,” says Singh. “If you get into more complicated infant diseases, that can jump up to more than a million dollars. If you can catch that early, you can keep the costs low.” 

But their solution doesn’t stop at data collection and integration. It also generates analytics to predict disease onset and improve administrative reporting. “The product not only improves data processes inside the NICU,  but also tells clinicians when to intervene, even if there is no apparent clinical manifestation of the symptoms,” says Kaur. “We’ve applied cutting edge informational and computational technology to help build out disease pipelines with the data: what are the early symptoms of a disease? When do they onset? How do they progress?”

The seamless experience continues beyond the infant’s stay in the NICU. Once the baby is discharged from the NICU, the clinical data at the time of discharge is pushed into Child Health Imprint’s iCHR (Integrated Child Health Record) which automates growth monitoring, prescription, vaccination record and an appointment scheduler for the child. This is crucial in helping parents and health practitioners provide exceptional care.

Looking Forward

Child Health Imprints’ solutions are installed in 27 hospitals across 3 countries including India, Singapore, and South Korea. Now, they’re getting established in the US and Canadian markets, including a partnership with Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital. 

“Each geography is very different, and there are different disease problems in each country,” says Singh. “Our plan is to meet the global demand for neonatal care. Beyond that, we’ll grow the product with hospitals to address pediatrics departments in addition to neonatal care.”

When Child Health Imprints started out, they thought technology would be their challenge. But they’ve since discovered their biggest challenge is managing shifting hospital policies and priorities, working with regulatory bodies, getting clearance, and understanding the market mechanism. 

“You have to sell to hospital systems, convince them that this is what they should invest in - and this is with the proof points, the established markets, the publications to back our product,” notes Singh. “We’ve been most successful when we’ve convinced neonatal clinicians, who can advocate for the product within the hospital system. What we want to see is more top-down initiative about the need for these solutions in hospitals.” 

Singh and Kaur are on a mission to bring a seismic change to neonatal health. They are tackling these hurdles with science-backed advocacy and education to make their ambition a tangible reality. 

Demo Day 

Child Health Imprints continues to bring their big plans into action by participating in ventureLAB’s International Demo Day held last week. The Demo Day showcased 7 impressive companies from ventureLAB’s Capital Investment Program who are tackling some of the biggest global challenges and opportunities. Dozens of investors heard from companies including:

“ventureLAB has connected us with Canadian hospitals and partners, helped us navigate the Canadian market and business ecosystem, and guided us to refine our value proposition. Last week’s Demo Day was a great platform that included industry veterans who guided us on our scaling strategy for expanding across Canada.”

- Harpreet Singh, Co-Founder, Child Health Imprints

About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. Our initiatives focused on raising capital, talent retention, commercializing technology and IP, and customer acquisition have enabled thousands of companies to create over 4,000 jobs and raise more than $200 million in investment capital. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada, for global markets.

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