Hillel's Tech Corner: Keeping patients pumped up

When it comes to patient care, technology is already changing so many aspects of the healthcare world, but one device has gone unnoticed and un-disrupted by technology.

Q Core Medical's infusion pump (photo credit: Courtesy)
Q Core Medical's infusion pump
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The interesting thing about technology is that we don’t even pay attention to the need for something until we have it, and then we can’t live without it. Steve Jobs famously said, “Customers don’t know what they want until we’ve shown them.” Henry Ford is also on record saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
In today’s world, we see this with the mobile phone, including its built-in camera. Had someone asked you 15 years ago if you needed to always be connected and have a high-resolution camera in your pocket, the answer would have been an easy “No.” And yet, here we are.
When it comes to patient care, technology is already changing so many aspects of the healthcare world, but one device has gone unnoticed and un-disrupted by technology.
You can walk into any hospital or outpatient clinic around the world and see patients of all kinds being treated and cared for by healthcare staff. Of all the tools and medical devices used to keep patients healthy, the one device that is highly ubiquitous and yet semi-hidden is the infusion pump. Infusion pumps, used to deliver precise amounts of nutrients and medicine, keep patients healthy and stable. The types of patients who use infusion pump devices are endless, including diabetics, women in labor, cancer patients, someone who has become dehydrated, and the list goes on.
The global infusion-pump market is huge, and was valued last year at $12 billion, according to Research and Markets. This market is only expected to grow as infusion devices develop and move into home infusion care.
The problem with infusion pumps today is they lack external connectivity, which limits their capabilities, and makes their user interfaces difficult to use.
Enter Q Core Medical, a local Israeli infusion-pump provider with a very interesting story.
Q Core Medical is a technology-driven infusion solutions company providing advanced infusion pumps to ambulatory care and hospital markets. Q Core Medical is headquartered in Netanya, and now has 170 employees between its offices in Israel, France and the US. Of those 170 employees, approximately 100 are part of the research and development team.
Q Core was originally founded in 1996. Its intellectual property, as part of Q Core Medical ,was given new life in 2009, when the company, coming close to bankruptcy, was acquired by Dr. Boaz Eitan of Eitan Group, also owners of affiliate companies Sorrel Medical and Avoset Health. Eitan, a former Israeli fighter pilot, Syrian prisoner of war, and founder/CEO of the technology company Saifun, infused a hi-tech mindset into the company to get them back on track.
EITAN HEADS Q Core Medical as CEO, owner and chairman of the board. Prior to his acquisition of Q Core, Boaz worked for many years in the semiconductor industry, including 11 years in Silicon Valley. He founded Saifun Semiconductors Ltd. based on his proprietary invention, NROM memory technology, and led the company through an IPO on NASDAQ, followed by a merger with Spansion Semiconductors. Today, products using this technology account for over $2.0 billion in annual sales.
At the time of purchase, Q Core Medical’s infusion pump had a solid technology base with a very simplistic touchscreen interface that was far from ready for the market. After investing in R&D, Q Core Medical’s Sapphire multi-therapy infusion pumps were finally market-ready and made it big in 2013, when they signed an exclusive distribution deal with Hospira, launching their Sapphire infusion system in key markets. Since then, Q Core Medical has also collaborated with other players in the MedTech field, including Pfizer.
This past year, Q Core Medical established new offices in Marseille, France, and Aliso Viejo, California. The company will also now begin distributing their infusion pumps in Canada.
So what does Q Core Medical actually do?
The company provides advanced infusion pumps for hospitals and ambulatory care settings. Infusion pumps are an essential part of the healthcare medical device space, delivering precise measurements of medications and nutrients, such as insulin, antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs and pain relievers directly to patients.
Almost all patients in either hospital or ambulatory care settings that need transfusions of either nutrients or medicine will use an infusion pump.
What makes the Sapphire infusion pump so special?
The Sapphire infusion pump works hard to ensure that patients are receiving their medications and nutrients so nurses and doctors don’t have to. The pump is highly accurate, lightweight, has a small bedside footprint and boasts a long battery life. Intuitive and easy to use, Sapphire requires minimal training for medical professionals. The touchscreen interface makes the platform highly responsive to end-user needs. Crucially, the Sapphire platform is software-driven, making it future-ready and easily upgradeable.
Q Core Medical has cleared the FDA process five times, and has more than 100,000 Sapphire pumps in use worldwide. It has established distribution portals in 26 countries and now has data on more than 18 million liters of completed infusions. Additionally, Q Core Medical is now looking to grow the $50 million in annual sales it has averaged over the past three years.
The way we think about Uber and transportation, Airbnb and hospitality, and the iPhone and computers, is the way we will think about Q Core Medical and infusion pumps in the near future. We will ask ourselves how we survived that long without this technology, and our children might even crack a joke at our expense about the way things used to work in our days before we had Q Core Medical.