The first two sentences on Aidar Health’s website get to the point about its health checking device, MouthLab:
“Creating a new paradigm for personalized care at home. Reimagining today’s standards for disease management, digital medicine and aging in place.”
MouthLab can measure 10 health parameters, including temperature, EKG, lung functions, oxygen saturations, and others, in less than a minute. That impressed TEDCO, who recently made a Seed Fund investment of $250,000 into Aidar.
“We’ve been marketing the device for two years,” said Sathya Elumalai, founder and CEO of Columbia-based Aidar, which he founded in 2015. “In 2021, we received our regulatory clearances from the Food & Drug Administration and CE mark (for the European Union) approvals.”
During its early days, Aidar raised $4 million up to June 2022. “That’s unheard of to make that progress on that amount of funding, because even a thermometer can cost $10 million to bring to market,” Elumalai said; at that point, Aidar started a second-round $4 million raise that has reached $3.8 million, including the new TEDCO funding.
“So now all we need is another $200,000 to close the second round of our fundraising,” he said.
MouthLab is available by prescription, so Aidar is working with hospitals to provide monitoring and nursing homes to conduct daily health checks. Elumalai said the company is also working with the Veteran’s Health Administration and wants it to prescribe the device to veterans with chronic conditions and keep them out of the hospital.
“We hope by year’s end to sell about 1,000 devices and services for $60-$80 per month,” he said.
It will take various factors to ensure MouthLab’s long-term success.
“There have been similar devices come to market, but this is a matter of timing,” said Ruben Pillay, chief innovation officer for the UAB Health System, in Birmingham, Alabama, “as well as the market changing its behavior, which in this case means patients can be enabled to deliver their own care. That has to be encouraged by professionals, and the two groups are starting to come together.”
This evolution of the health care market “is similar to using software to do your taxes instead of paying an accountant do them,” Pillay said. “That trend can be called ‘prosumerization.’
“When an individual can produce their own medical services, they’re not a customer anymore. They’re a prosumer,” he said. “What’s driving that change includes various cultural factors, with the encouragement of medical professionals.”
What makes MouthLab “revolutionary is that it is a cellular biomedical device that collects 10 different biomarkers without any technical work by the patient. It’s like using Verizon Wireless phone,” said Stan Kachnowski, director/Digital Health Program at Columbia Business School, in New York.
“This represents a major barrier broken when it comes to the hardware and software integration, all in the name of user experience,” said Kachnowski. “People like using one device to get (a great deal) of data, like the Apple Watch or the Withings Body Scale. This will take health care to a new level.”
The C-suiters at TEDCO see that change happening, too. “MouthLab affords the potential to enhance the quality of life for patients with chronic conditions and enable positive health outcomes,” said Teddy Gresser, TEDCO’s director of Seed Funds. “This is a great fit for the mission of our Life Science Investment Fund.”
The biggest challenge with using MouthLab, said Elumalai, is that people often want analyze one ailment at a time. “For instance, doctors and patients tend to want to treat individual ailments, like COPD,” he said, “but we believe that certain conditions can be affected by another. That’s been especially true during COVID-19.
“We’re not trying to replace a doctor, but just give people a better-rounded approach and more and better information about their health, from home, the hospital, combat situations, athletic venues,” etc., he said. “I think that will give this device universal appeal.”
Elumalai spent more than 10 years working at Johns Hopkins Health System with patients who had chronic conditions and saw that solutions were often one-size-fits-all; MouthLab “is like a check engine light for a car,” he said, “but what we need is something like that for humans that they can simply breathe in to.
“The applications are endless,” he said. “I think this is a revolutionary device.”
Caption: MouthLab can measure 10 health parameters, including temperature, EKG, lung functions, oxygen saturations, and others, in less than a minute. (Aidar Health photo)