Tech startup: dBMEDx Inc.

INITIAL LIGHT BULB Ultrasound expert Bill Barnard came up with a new scanner that’s easier for medical professionals to use and less invasive for patients. He teamed up with David Shine and Dr. Bill Quirk to launch dBMEDx.

“Bill had worked for many years on a device that would detect the volume of a patient’s bladder,” says Shine. Barnard’s “creative architecture” became the linchpin of dBMEDx’s hand-held ultrasound technology.

Shine serves as the CEO of dBMEDx while Barnard is the Seattle-based CTO, and Quirk functions as the company’s chief medical officer.

IN A NUTSHELL dBMEDx is making user-friendly, mobile ultrasound scanners that will first be used for bladder scans and then transitioned into a wide range of diagnostic applications.

“I use ultrasound every day,” says Quirk, a physician at Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver and one of the original investors in iTriage. “In my world, ultrasound is operator-dependent” – meaning only doctors are qualified and cleared to use it.

This isn’t the case with dBMEDx’s scanners, which can be used by technicians and emergency responders. ”We want to make it operator-independent,” says Quirk. “You don’t have to have M.D. or Ph.D. after your name to use it.”

Echoes Shine: “That’s the power of this thing – it requires very little training and very little expertise.”

More power comes in a seamless interface with iPads and other devices, resulting in significant improvements in productivity and efficiency, not to mention medical efficacy.

With user-friendliness comes better treatment, as ambulance drivers are able to provide diagnostic data while en route to the hospital. “That data point gets beamed to the hospital,” says Quirk, for better and earlier diagnoses and treatment, reducing the length of hospital stays and medical costs in the process.

“The less time you spend in the hospital, the better,” says Quirk.

THE MARKET The company is targeting the country’s 7,000 hospitals and 48,000 ambulances with a variety of applications in mind. Bladder ultrasound is “a big market – $150 million a year,” says Quirk. But dBMEDx is ultimately eying a broader medical market, he adds. “This scanner can be reconfigured to do a number of different measurements. Sepsis is a biggie.” Sepsis, or an overwhelming infection, is more easily and less expensively treated earlier.

The veterinary market is also promising for dBMEDx, as ultrasound often requires general anesthesia for the animal, Quirk adds, noting that vets familiar with dBMEDx are enthusiastic about the technology’s potential.

FINANCING After an initial seed round of $350,000 in September 2012, dBMEDx raised a second round of $1.1 million in April 2013. The first round “was to go from concept to prototype,” says Quirk. “This takes us from prototype to commercialization.”

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“The beauty of having a practicing doctor on the team: Every day he runs into a problem we can solve.”   
­— dBMEDx CEO David Shine on Chief Medical Officer Dr. Bill Quirk