For all the advancements in modern medicine, one thing hasn’t changed: Measuring blood loss.
Believe it or not, the common practice in determining how much blood a patient has lost is simply eyeballing it.
“Blood loss has been visually estimated since the dawn of medicine and it’s really a best guess as to whether a patient needs a transfusion or another intervention in these surgeries,” said Siddarth Satish, CEO of Gauss Surgical, a tech startup that is trying to simplify one of healthcare’s most confounding problems.
Accurately calculating blood loss can help reduce unnecessary transfusions that are detrimental to patient safety and add to overall healthcare costs.
But blood loss is also a critically factor in high rates of maternal mortality—an issue that has gained prominence in the media and among lawmakers given the staggering rates of maternal deaths in the United States. Better blood loss estimation allows doctors to quickly identify post-partum hemorrhages and intervene with evidence-based protocols.
Using artificial intelligence, Gauss Surgical developed a platform that allows clinicians to measure blood loss using an iPad camera. Point the camera at a pool of blood or a surgical sponge, and the algorithm calculates the volume with 90% more accuracy than a visual assessment.
“It’s basically looking at how red the stuff is and measuring hemoglobin loss,” Satish explained.
Research shows Gauss’ solution is cutting costs and improving outcomes. A study by Hackensack University Medical Center found Gauss’ platform, Triton, recognized more cases of hemorrhaging in Cesarean deliveries, reduced transfusion and saved the system more than $1 million, compared to $96,000 in licensing costs.
The company is growing quickly, with adoption by more than 50 hospitals since its commercial launch in 2017. And the company is riding a new tailwind of national organizations making maternal mortality a new priority.
“Our only true competitor is the status quo,” Satish said.
Fierce insights from Siddarth Satish, CEO of Gauss Surgical
FierceHealthcare: What is your best piece of advice for launching a health care company that challenges the status quo?
The big idea: Transforming surgery with AI
Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA
CEO: Siddarth Satish
Average annual revenue (Or revenue FY17) Not disclosed, privately held company
Siddarth Satish: It’s really hard and it’s going to take a long time. You think you’ll build a product and start going gangbusters, but that’s not the case in healthcare. There’s a long market adoption process.
You have to think about the economics. I see far too often new tech or ideas that actually solve a clinical problem but the economics are not clear.
FH: What is the failure you’ve learned the best lesson from?
SS: The best failure we’ve learned from was really one that involved our users and customers. Initially, we underestimated the level of impact that would have. When we brought our generation one technology to market and began piloting this concept in surgery, we had a lot of pushback and changes we had to make. There were lots of little product failures from a design perspective that we realized we hadn’t actually designed for OR.
FH: What is one change you predict in health care that people wouldn’t expect?
SS: A lot of people are predicting that AI will play a huge role in healthcare. I’m skeptical that AI will just dominate existing medical practice. I think it’ll be ever-present. There will be a little bit of AI in everything you’re doing, but I think the actual practice of medicine in its truest form is going to carry forward.