External professionals as building blocks
Oxypoint: the digital breeze in oxygen therapy
Thanks to their wide range of expertise and approaches, creative experts always offer striking added value to any company. These external professionals or creative freelancers are also a useful addition for smaller companies. The story of the medtech company Oxypoint is a prime example of this type of synergetic collaboration.
Oxypoint is a medical technology (medtech) company and originated as a spin-off from the University of Antwerp. According to Philip Hendrickx, COO and co-founder, it all started with the ambition to revolutionise oxygen therapy. "There is a problem with conventional oxygen flow meters, which are actually outdated for many applications. They deliver a constant flow of oxygen through a tube in the nose. This type of airflow is very cold and dry, which causes the airways to become extremely dehydrated and weak. This results in irritation and sensitivity, leading the patient to remove the tube from the nose. If they keep the tube in its place, they may get painful scabs, headaches or even nosebleeds: anything but comfortable.”
Efficiency is key
Oxypoint came up with an innovative oxygen flow meter: the O2COMFORT. “Besides the conventional method, we also provide a second type of oxygen flow with this device. With its efficient comfort mode, the O2COMFORT only releases a small amount of oxygen when the patient breathes in. This has no negative impact on the quality of the oxygen therapy, but it does increase the patient’s comfort and wastes less medical oxygen. In addition, we were very curious about the user experiences and learned that the respiratory situation of patients is not being sufficiently taken into account.
Breathing is one of the most important parameters of patient well-being, so our ambition was to give it a central role in healthcare. Therefore, we came upon the idea of digitising and analysing respiratory data. This foundation provides more insight into the condition of patients, leading to more efficient care decisions. Oxypoint develops the solutions of the future, thanks to innovative techniques that monitor and link vital parameters. Like this, we are building a service where breathing becomes the central hub of the healthcare policy."
From thesis to creator
“At Oxypoint, everything starts from the ideas of the small core team", says in-house product developer Cedric Van Steenkist. "For the actual development, we often collaborate with external partners. The link with the University of Antwerp (UA) is very important to us: every year, a Master's student in Product Development gets carte blanche to work on a progressive thesis for us, completely aligned with our company philosophy. That's how I ended up here, by the way.” Philip continues: “Cedric is too modest: he made himself indispensable from the start. His thesis was so far ahead of its time that we started looking for grants to integrate him into our team. With success: Cedric is subsequently the spiritual father of our latest product, the innovative O2MATE."
Philip continues: "Cedric cannot duplicate himself, however badly he might want to. We complement his expertise with other specialists that we do not have in-house. That’s why networking in Antwerp's close-knit business scene is essential. You can really feel this ecosystem brewing when you are looking for external specialists: people like to refer each other. This creates an organic bond between creative professionals and innovative companies, because you also make an effort to refer them. We ourselves were looking for partners with a high degree of specialisation in production, artificial intelligence (AI), software, data communication and analysis.
Voxdale, for example, helped us develop the nosepiece, while we entrusted the AI to Yazzoom in Ghent and everything around patent applications to DenK-IP in Boortmeerbeek. Finally, we work out our brand and communication strategy together with the Antwerp agency Reputations." Cedric adds: "as a small multidisciplinary team, we work together with a wide range of external partners. These collaborations allow me to focus on what I enjoy doing: developing products like the O2MATE. I come up with concepts, work them out with partners and validate the possibilities, both internally and externally. Based on all this information, I then create a reliable design briefing for further development."
The O2MATE: a revolution
The development of the O2MATE was a logical consequence of Oxypoint's philosophy. “For us, the core is the patient's breathing,” Philip emphasises again. “Breathing frequency is one of the six vital parameters that nurses measure at least three times a day, in order to assess the general health status of a patient. The calculation of this frequency is still done manually. First, the nurse counts the patient's chest movements for 20 seconds and then converts that number into the number of breaths per minute. We wanted to make this process much more efficient and accurate. Our O2MATE immediately registers the patient's breathing digitally. Moreover, all data is automatically transferred to the Electronic Patient File (EPD). Doctors and nurses can thus closely monitor the patient's condition via personalised dashboards in the software platform.
Moreover, the data streams are continuous, making patterns and trend developments stand out immediately. In addition, the O2MATE can also link to external wearables and sensors via its Bluetooth connection. Thanks to the broad rollout of (medical) Internet of Things applications (IoT), the O2MATE can even serve as a data hub to record many other vital patient data. This makes the O2MATE a true smart patient companion: the indispensable link in monitoring patient parameters. In terms of innovative core principles, this device builds on the O2COMFORT: it also provides smart oxygen therapy. To conclude, we ensure a future-proof product: by making plugins available, we can easily upgrade the O2MATE with new functionalities. This way we use an intelligent and original business model: a win-win for both the healthcare institutions and Oxypoint.”
The O2MATE has been CE-approved and is almost ready to start production. In the second half of 2021, Oxypoint is planning a series of clinical studies and test phases in hospitals with the first batch of O2MATE devices. In the meantime, the company is continuing to work closely with end users to develop additional functionalities and upgrade options. In that regard, one of the Oxypoint team members is even preparing for a Baekeland PhD in 2021 to further explore the potential and possible applications of digital respiratory data. Based on this, Oxypoint will apply new, smart algorithms to make more accurate suggestions and predictions: all tailored to the needs of patients, nurses and doctors. This will bring their O2MATE even closer to the patient in the future.
Thanks to a wide range of external specialists, the team at Oxypoint can work at revolutionary healthcare innovations. Like this, it clearly proves the advantages of collaborations between creative professionals and Flemish companies. As an international hub of trade and innovation, Antwerp also enjoys a longstanding tradition in design. Creative service is in its DNA, which makes creative industries thrive in Antwerp. This community helps other companies to innovate their products, processes and services.
Foreign companies are more than welcome to meet our thriving network of creative professionals. Want to get in touch with them? Contact us and we’ll gladly help you along the way.