Swift Medical, a startup that built an app for remote wound care, is expanding into technology to support decentralized clinical trials, taking on a more than $44 billion market that’s steadily growing.
The company recently rolled out a digital imaging platform used by medical and pharmaceutical researchers to analyze skin and wound conditions remotely in virtual trials. The technology, called Swift Scientific, provides research-grade clinical imaging to support decentralized clinical trials and turns a smartphone into a medical-grade imaging device, according to Carlo Perez, co-founder and CEO of Swift Medical.
Because patients are now doing more trials at home, study coordinators have had trouble tracking skin side effects remotely or trusting patients to conduct adequate analysis and recording on themselves.
The company designed its latest product, Swift Scientific, to enable large-scale image collection and management across any decentralized setting, whether it’s a multisite clinical trial or in each participant’s home remotely using only their smartphone, according to company executives.
The COVID-19 pandemic has driven decentralized clinical trials and more optimal patient-centric software into the spotlight. The pandemic also created new barriers to visit trial participants in person, resulting in longer and more expensive clinical trials.
Analyzing skin conditions during medical research is a critical part of the clinical trial process, Perez told Fierce Healthcare.
"If you consider moles and legions, participants typically have to go to the clinic to do the imagery and that's expensive and time-consuming for participants as well as for the clinical research organization," Perez said. "Swift Scientific takes that participants’ smartphone, provides them with remote instructions and walks them through how to onboard, from start to finish, so participants can adhere to the protocol for the study."
The Canadian startup, launched in 2015, developed its first product as an artificial-intelligence-powered, digital wound platform that allows any patient or clinician to capture high-precision images of skin or wound conditions with any smartphone camera. The technology also can determine the depth of the injury. The technology captures wound images and measurements without the doctor or nurse having to touch the wound. And Swift Medical digitizes, tracks and automates the wound care management workflow.
Swift Medical’s technology is used by more than 4,000 healthcare organizations internationally, including health systems and providers of all kinds, academic institutions, research organizations and pharmaceutical companies.
Swift was able to pivot its remote wound care platform to "unlock" what imaging can do for remote care, he said.
The company designed its wound care platform to be highly specialized, while Swift Scientific is built to be configurable to a diverse range of clinical trials, Perez said.
"The applications for the technology are tremendous and quite broad, and that leads us to broader aspirations for the company. Moving forward, the particular applications that we’re working on through Swift Scientific will take us beyond wound care and clinical trials," he said.
Swift Scientific produces 3D-generated models, enables automated region-of-interest detection and calculates precise, clinically validated measurements that eliminate data variability. Study coordinators can continuously monitor the effects of new medications or interventions on participants from anywhere—and, with real-time reports and analytics, investigators can easily identify and analyze trends for each subject and study.
"Even after the pandemic, decentralized clinical trials represent the future for medical research, giving applications like Swift Scientific unlimited potential to power the next generation of data collection and analysis," Perez said.
Decentralized trials represent an opportunity to reach a more diverse pool of patients, he noted.
Swift works with some of the largest pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organizations across more than 50 sites in North America and in international markets. The company recently brought in $35 million to scale up its technology through a series B investment led by Virgo Investment Group, existing investors, DCVC and BDC Capital’s Women-in-Tech Fund. The startup has raised about $48 million in venture capital funding to date.
Swift also is teaming up with one of the largest home health providers, AccentCare, to get its technology into the hands of thousands of care providers.