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Kiwi medical device maker Aranz gets traction on US roadshow

Silhouette is being demonstrated, along with some of the world's largest brands, on the nine month-long 'Teleheath Education Delivered' roadshow organised by its US distributor.

Fiona Rotherham
Tue, 23 Jun 2015

Aranz Medical, the Christchurch-based medical device company, says a telehealth roadshow touring the US has led to an upsurge in buyer interest for its hand-held wound care scanner, Silhouette.

Silhouette is being demonstrated, along with some of the world's largest brands, on the nine month-long 'Teleheath Education Delivered' roadshow organised by its US distributor Iron Bow Technologies. It's making more than 200 stops, including to 150 Veterans Affairs hospitals in a tour that ends in September.

Privately-owned Aranz, which has raised outside capital only once, is currently assessing funding options including a sharemarket listing to capitalise on expected growth. It was a finalist in this year's Hi Tech Awards in the emerging company category and is growing at more than 50% a year.

It has two main innovations, each contributing half of its more than $5 million annual revenue: the US Food and Drug Administration-approved Silhouette, which enables wound sufferers to be remotely assessed by specialists; and FastScan, a 3D scanning system that aids the precise fitting of orthotics and prosthetics. The company has just secured a deal with a major US customer for its second-generation FastScan.

Chief executive Bruce Davey said he expects Silhouette to dominate future sales in the next two years, given the global trend toward telehealth as a way to cut healthcare costs, mortality, and emergency admission rates.

Obamacare, the US federal healthcare reform programme, is helping to make telehealth mainstream by increasing the number of people with health insurance and seeking medical services. The Department of Veterans' Affairs, the US' largest healthcare provider and already a major Aranz customer, is pioneering telehealth for patients who live in remote or rural locations.

In a report last year on telemedicine technologies, BCC Research said global telehealth for outpatients was expected to grow from just $US6 billion in 2013 to nearly $US24 billion by 2019.

Mr Davey said the profitable company could have accelerated growth by seeking outside funds earlier but the Silhouette technology was ahead of its time. The market has now reached a tipping point and Silhouette's inclusion in the roadshow recognises the value of telehealth in woundcare, he said.

Chronic wounds are a growing healthcare issue owing to the rise of diseases like Type 2 diabetes, which results in wounds for 15% of sufferers. About $US50 billion is spent annually on treating wounds in the US alone and woundcare is thought to represent about 15% of all home care.

"Many patients with wounds are in remote or rural locations, or receiving care in the home. Being able to assess their wounds at a distance can save providers significant amounts of money, and minimise discomfort to patients," Mr Davey said.

Practitioners can use Aranz's portable camera to accurately measure wounds at the patient's bedside and then log it on a secure database. Multi-disciplinary teams then assess the data remotely, track treatment progress, and make decisions on what to do next. The technology is also used by companies running clinical trials for wound healing products.

Aranz is also fine-tuning a scanner upgrade that will allow it to be used on tablets and smartphones as part of a wider research and development programme.

Two of Aranz Medical's four founders, electrical engineers Rick Fright and Bruce McCallum, conceived the idea of a digital scanning device for medical applications over a beer in London. On their return to New Zealand they made a prototype, which was first used by visual effects company Weta Digital to create digital models for creatures in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

It was useful PR but the company has since focused on woundcare, which has bigger potential, Davey said. Aranz exports to 35 countries and opened a subsidiary in the US, its largest market, last year. It recently hired a business development manager in Europe and Davey expects to have multiple subsidiaries operating within two years.

It hasn't sold any of the devices in New Zealand, with Mr Davey saying it had proved easier to get traction offshore than with local district health boards.

BusinessDesk receives funding to help cover the commercialisation of innovation from Callaghan Innovation.


Fiona Rotherham
Tue, 23 Jun 2015
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Kiwi medical device maker Aranz gets traction on US roadshow