Summary: PhotoniCare has developed a low-cost imaging platform that uses light to see through tissue. This product has been developed from the beginning with the fast-paced and diverse front-line healthcare setting in mind. Our first product on this platform is an otoscope that can see through the eardrum. The device is portable or wall-mountable and is used exactly like the standard otoscope. The device provides machine learning-based analysis on the images in order to simplify the decision-making for the user.
We are empowering front-line care professionals in pediatric, urgent care, family practice, and retail clinic environments to make an accurate diagnosis the first time, improving patient outcomes with better treatment strategies for ear infections, a chronic disease that is the leading cause of hearing loss, surgeries, and antibiotic use in children.
After our initial ear indication, we will expand the platform to deliver robust screening for diabetic retinopathy at points-of-care for which this is not currently possible, such as the primary care office and retail settings like Walgreens, CVS, Walmart, etc. After the eye, we are looking toward dental and consumer health applications.
Need: Otitis media (OM), or middle ear infections, are responsible for 30M physician office visits annually in the U.S. and 90% of children suffer from at least one ear infection by the age of three. Additionally, OM is the leading cause of hearing loss in children and is responsible for more childhood surgeries than any other disease, with more than 7% of children receiving surgery under general anesthesia. The high incidence of this disease results in $10B spent annually in the U.S. to manage it. Despite the obvious importance of OM, the current gold standard for diagnosis is a highly subjective exam using the otoscope, a tool that is essentially a magnifying glass and penlight, with misdiagnosis rates of up to 50%.
Value: Our value proposition is enabled by our unique ability to image through the eardrum. Currently, according to published literature, primary care physicians misdiagnose middle ear fluid 50% of the time. This severe misdiagnosis leads to unnecessary surgeries (National Committee on Overuse named ear tube surgery a top-5 most overused procedure in US medicine in 2013), unnecessary office visits, and often ineffective and irresponsible use of antibiotics. Per the current clinical guidelines, physicians need to determine two main things about the middle ear when diagnosing and assessing treatment: (1) is there fluid behind the eardrum and (2) is it clear fluid or full of pus? PhotoniCare’s technology has shown in clinical studies the ability to provide both of these parameters to physicians with high accuracy. The value this will provide is certainty in diagnosis and, consequently, appropriate treatment and improved patient outcomes. This means a physician could prescribe a stronger antibiotic for some patients because they can identify and quantitatively measure fluid full of pus. This means a physician can properly rule out (in the absence of fluid), or properly identify fluid behind a normal-looking drum, which is a common occurrence that is the leading cause of hearing loss in children. This means a physician can identify a biofilm in the middle ear as a sign of a chronic, antibiotic resistant infection, and accelerate referral to an ENT, because this ear won’t clear with standard antibiotic treatment. This information could fundamentally change the treatment strategy to improve the efficacy of treatment for this chronic disease.