It’s a bright, blue, sunny day and you decide to take a trip to the ballpark with your friends. The game is tied and everybody is excited to see what happens next. All of a sudden your chest tightens up and you begin to wheeze. It feels impossible to get a breath and now your friends all begin to panic. You pull out your inhaler and head for the car. Just a moment ago your biggest worry was your favorite team winning, and now it’s hoping to make it out of the hospital before the day ends.
For patients with respiratory conditions like asthma, this hypothetical probably sounds way too familiar. But what if this could have all been avoided. What if you could have been alerted about that wheezing event before the air was sucked from your lungs? This is the goal of 2012 UD alumnus and Hen Hatch 2017 finalist, Nick Delmonico along with his startup and their latest technology.
RESP is Strados’ breakthrough technology, and it is designed to simplify the process of monitoring lung health. The unobtrusive, hands-free device has been cleared by the FDA and looks to provide data in a patient-friendly way. RESP integrates with EHR clinical workflows and provides real-time cloud access to respiratory data as well as AI predictive detection and analysis.
The device works by using biosensors that attach to a user’s chest. It detects breathing patterns and acoustic signals like wheezing & coughing while wirelessly communicating to a cloud-based provider portal. The RESP makes irregularities easy to notice over any given day or time period which allows care team coordinators to remotely manage patients' conditions.
Strados Labs raised more than $7 million in funding and looks to grow the team and expand the reach of coverage for respiratory issues. After beginning the startup journey in 2016, Strados has gone on to earn millions in early-stage venture capital and was an honorable mention in the 2019 Technical.ly Philadelphia realist.
The Blue Hen ties run deep in Strados Labs as Ted Foltyn, an adjunct faculty member at Horn Entrepreneurship, has joined Delmonico’s team as a Strategic Advisor.
We were able to connect with Nick and ask him some questions about his entrepreneurial journey through the healthcare industry.
Horn: What Horn lessons still hold true at Strados?
Nick: The importance of talking to customers and learning the problems they have. You need to communicate with people, learn about their pains and gains, and understand their problems before getting to a solution.
Horn: What are your goals for yourself and for Strados?
Nick: When I started, I wanted to build a small business and learn the complex nuances of building something from scratch. I learned that I enjoyed the healthcare industry and I wanted to be able to give back and help people in that industry while working on something that I can do myself.
Horn: How does it benefit the team to have RESP designed for those with respiratory issues by those with respiratory issues?
Nick: I’ve had asthma and other respiratory conditions since I was young, and you never forget the hospital visits. It’s difficult for patients and families as well. I came up with the idea while I was in graduate school. I said how we help patients who have respiratory conditions like asthma know when they are experiencing symptoms like wheezing and coughing, and notify their care teams before they end up in the hospital. I worked with a professor from Thomas Jefferson University and many other doctors and patients to develop a device that can detect wheezing events. Once we knew people wanted it and had a real problem, we got into the actual building of the device.
Horn: What’s next for RESP and for Strados?
Nick: We have our regulatory clearance so we can start marketing to doctors and healthcare systems. Next, we want new clinical customers to use it and prove that it helps doctors take care of their patients. We want to prove to patients, doctors, and health insurance companies that it helps to keep people out of the hospital.
Horn: Do you have any advice for students looking to make similar breakthroughs in the healthcare industry?
Nick: Focus on the problems in healthcare, talk to doctors, patients, payers, and clinical teams. Talk to everybody, learn about their issues, and ask how they would solve the problem. They know better than anybody what is wrong, and once you know the problem you can do your best to fix it.
On May 3, 2022, Strados Labs received its second FDA Class II 510(k) clearance in 18 months. In December 2020, its product, RESP® was approved for wireless reporting to provide early detection and monitoring of respiratory diseases. On May 3, 2022, the second FDA approval allows for home use for Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) and Telehealth evaluations. This milestone enables patients to track objective symptoms of improvement or decline associated with pulmonary disease conditions at home, connect remotely, and the ability to detect lung sounds associated with events like heart failure, COPD, asthma, and infectious diseases like COVID-19.
About Horn Entrepreneurship
Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement at the University of Delaware. Currently ranked among the best entrepreneurship programs in the US, Horn Entrepreneurship was built and is actively supported by successful entrepreneurs, empowering aspiring innovators as they pursue new ideas for a better world.