This post is the latest in the Analog Garage's NextGen series on biosensing.


Healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs, are a tremendous problem for hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Which is why potential sensor-to-cloud solutions for reducing the incidence and impact of HAIs are attracting so much interest and investment.


There is a lot riding on those efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that HAIs afflict one in 20 patients. The infections can lead to a variety of conditions, from inflammation and urinary tract infections to pneumonia and sepsis. All told, HAIs cost the US healthcare system an estimated $35.7 billion a year, according to the CDC.


When dealing with patient infections, time is of the essence. Numerous studies show, for example, that mortality rates and hospital stays are dramatically reduced when sepsis is diagnosed and treated within the first four hours. Which is why faster detection at the point of care is the goal of many HAI ideas.


“But imagine if we can find and stamp out bacteria at the source – in exam rooms, on instruments, in common areas, before patients are infected. That really mitigates the urgency to watch patients for warning signs,” Mario Freni, Business Development Manager at the Analog Garage, told the Master Mechanic. “That’s flat-out revolutionary.”


The founders of one Boston-area start-up have logged biochemical fingerprints for the bacteria responsible for nearly 90 percent of HAIs. They invented an inexpensive handheld biosensor with disposable test strips so front-line healthcare workers can quickly detect the presence of the most common bacteria. If successful, the system would reduce from days to minutes the time it takes to spot bacteria.


In little more than a year, the Analog Garage helped the startup build the hardware platform, and then guide it through pilot studies at healthcare facilities. Now that the pilots have completed successfully, Analog Devices’ incubator is deciding whether to become an investor.


Certainly, making a commitment to invest precious time and resources to help startups vet their concepts before taking an equity stake is immensely helpful to startups like this. But it also helps Analog. For the company, it’s a critical piece of the overall strategy to balance risk and reward in the high-stakes arena of new business ventures.


“This is really a great approach to investing in new ideas,” Mario said. If it means helping more world-changing inventions like the bacteria tester realize their potential, then we couldn’t agree more.


Click here to listen to Mario's podcast on the growing importance of biosensing in health and wellness