A Coralville developer of communication technologies for impaired, critically ill hospital patients has signed agreements with five medical device distributors.
Voxello’s “noddle” enables patients, doctors, nurses and other caregivers to communicate using sensors, a tablet-size computer screen and text-to-speech software. It detects the small voluntary gestures that patients are able to produce and gives them control of nurse-call and speech-generation devices.
“We have five of the top distributors in the country,” said Rives Bird, Voxello’s CEO. “These companies account for 80 percent of the market and 15,000 to 50,000 beds in each of their territories.”
The companies signing agreements with Voxello include South Western Communications of Evansville, Ind.; TRL Systems of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and Beacon Communications of Engelwood, Colo. Bird said the identities of two additional distributors will be disclosed within the next two weeks.
Voxello has begun shipping noddles, which received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance in March 2016, but is going slow on purpose, Bird said.
“We are working with the distributors and key sites before we turn them on full force,” he said. “We are really in a soft (product) launch right now.”
The noddle is manufactured by EI Microcircuits of Mankato, Minn. Bird said Voxello likely will add a second product source in the near future.
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“That’s one of our primary goals to get done in the next couple of months,” he said. “EI Microcircuits is large enough to handle our volume when we go full out, but if a manufacturer lets you down, you need to have an established alternative.”
The company has tripled its staff to about 15 in the last year, requiring a move from the UI BioVentures Center at 2500 Crosspark Rd. to larger office space in the Leapfrog Technologies building, 2451 Oakdale Blvd.
“We have plans to bring on additional people in sales, customer support, customer accounts, operations and quality control,” Bird said.
A ready market for Voxello’s noddle was created in 2012 when the Joint Commission, the not-for-profit accreditation and certification body for the health care industry, mandated that care facilities provide an effective means of communication for patients who cannot verbally communicate.