Health tech

Because Walking Saves Lives, Mobilizer Inc. Is A Startup That’s Aiming To Get Hospital Patients Moving

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For sedentary medical patients, one of the easiest ways to reduce the time of hospital stays and decrease the risk of complications like blood clots and pressure ulcers is simply to get up and walk around. But with medical equipment like oxygen tanks or IV drips in tow, it can take nurses up to 20 minutes to prepare a patient for ambulation, adding up to hundreds of hours of wasted time each week. This means that when patients are finally up and moving, some are only walked as far as their door before being sat back down.

Mobilizer Inc., a graduate of the ZeroTo510 medical device startup accelerator, created a six-wheeled holster for all of that medical equipment in order to make medical ambulation easier and faster. The carrier sits next to the patient’s bed so that only one attendant — rather than up to five — is needed to unplug it from the wall, release the brake, and get them moving.

Mobilizer, which launched in May, has raised $300,000 in funding from Innova Memphis and MB Venture Partners and plans to close another $400,000 in the coming year. CEO and co-founder James Bell said that so far Mass General Hospital and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center have purchased units, which cost a little under $5,000 apiece.

According to Bell’s projections, Mobilizer will be net cash flow positive by year’s end. The company has sold almost 100 units to date.

The proliferation of medical startups like Mobilizer offers an invaluable payoff: the possibility of finding ways to reduce the economic and personnel burdens on the hospital system. Medical tricorders like the Scanadu SCOUT and Teddy the Guardian, for instance, show potential to do so by putting diagnostic tools in consumers’ hands and therefore reducing the number of unnecessary visits to the doctor.

In the case of Mobilizer, getting patients’ blood flowing means turning over beds faster by speeding recovery rates, avoiding the cost of complications, and boosting staff efficiency.

Although medical tech companies often struggle to get FDA approval before they go to market, Mobilizer is a class 1 exempt service, meaning the clearance process requires proving a certain level of quality and paying a fee to register with the FDA.

Bell said that the plan is to create platforms for different hospital departments, tailoring the Mobilizers to their varying equipment needs. Outside of the hospital, it will be easy to scale into home care as well. And Mobilizer is looking to form partnerships with other medical tech companies.

“We are establishing relationships with other companies, for example with a portable ventilator company that mounts right on the Mobilizers really easily,” Bell said.

Mobilizer does have some competition in this space, but Bell pointed out that efficient solutions are not widespread in hospitals yet. He said he had heard of some centers using red Radio Flyer wagons to carry equipment, or taping oxygen tanks to walkers, which, yes, is just as risky as you might imagine.

You know what? That alone is a pretty good argument for a better equipment carrier.