• Frank Cardona

Ideamensch. Healthcare tech innovation inspired by patient advocacy, says Xcelrate UDI

Sometimes the most thoughtful innovations come from solving huge problems you’ve noticed early in your career. It’s a challenge to gather the expertise and put the pieces in place to really find a world-changing solution - but when it happens, it’s magical. One health tech founder saw patients were still dying from faulty implants. She took her experience in patient advocacy and created a solution that prevents faulty medical equipment from being used on patients.

Ideamensch caught up with Xcelrate UDI Founder, Joan Melendez, on how she created a medical device barcode scanning solution that prevents the use of faulty tech.





How did Xcelrate UDI innovate?


When you’re looking at a medical device when it’s in your hand, how do you know if it’s recalled? Is that device being tracked in the electronic health record (EHR)? Then you have expired items… Mistakes happen, how can you keep expired items from being used when they remain on the shelves?”

So how does Joan plan to reduce the risk of this happening? That’s exactly what our application is – an idea brought to life. I saw the problems in the operating room, looked at the requirements from the FDA and saw how the UDI (Unique Device Identifier) could improve patient care. That’s how Xcelrate UDI was born.


Xcelrate UDI’s solution was to have medical and protective equipment tracked on a database and repeatedly scanned by practitioners to check whether it’s still good to use— before it ever touches a patient.


Well behind the scenes it takes a lot of work:


We’re also very data driven. It’s one thing to have an idea, it’s another to understand what’s happening in an operating room, what are the regulations, who would potentially benefit from an idea? It’s important to us to make a lot of data based decisions.


I’ve surrounded myself with a strong and capable team of industry experts – those that work for the company and those that I lean on that have worked for the FDA and are part of the healthcare industry. They help inform and value-check some of our assumptions and ideas to make sure they are a viable solution for us to carry through.


What's next for the Xcelrate UDI and the future of health tech?


Xcelrate UD is clearly part of a trend of building technology with patient advocacy in mind.


I’m also excited about the pending shift of focus to patient advocacy and education. Patients have no clue about what’s going into their body. They trust their doctor, the doctors trust the manufacturer. They trust that the medical device being used in their surgery is the best of the best. For patients to even know to ask the questions that would help them be proactive about their own health, it would be so helpful. We need to put more resources into this.”


A patient’s problems and the solutions they need should be at the foundation of how a health tech product is built. And once a successful solution is built, companies and practitioners must keep going back to patients—their users—and actually listen to what they say they need.


A major hurdle to that goal? “For a long time, healthcare providers were siloed and rarely shared data with others, leaving no room for the growth of an information ecosystem,” according to one tech founder in Entrepreneur. Fortunately for Xcelrate UDI, getting around information silos is precisely their mission. It’s an example that many health tech providers could emulate.

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