The small gray box on the wrist is the goal Professor Han Storm (61) has been working towards for decades. All the spare time was used to develop a method for measuring the so-called emotional sweat of pain.
The sensing system is used on children and patients who cannot express how they feel on their own, and works via wireless electrodes that measure nerve signals in the skin layer on the palm of the hand or the bottom of the foot. Not without reason.
– In the event of significant tissue injury, emotional sweating is activated in the hands and under the feet.
The data is analyzed and can be read continuously on a tablet or hospital monitor.
– I was the first to create algorithms that could harness the emotional perspiration used in this way, says Storm, who founded Med Storm Innovation.
Now the professor in the Department of Clinical Medicine at the University of Oslo hopes to make an international breakthrough. Pain is a frequent problem in doctors’ offices and hospitals.
The market potential is huge, she says.
Chase hard capital
DN cited a report from the Directorate from E-Health that described how difficult it is for health tech companies to succeed.
For entrepreneurs, it’s not just about high risks for the product itself. It is also uncertain whether they will gain access to a confusing healthcare system and succeed in their capital hunt.
For Hanne Storm, it is precisely finance that sets the pace the most.
Investors will get their money back, but I also hope they understand that something important can be done and that they can help the people who need it.
Success outside Norway can give an extra zero to the back of the company’s overall rating.
The Norwegian company is not the only company involved in the race to enter the hospital market with pain relievers. The main competitor is the Israeli company Medasense, which has already raised 260 million Norwegian kroner.
To date, NOK 70 million has been spent on development, including private efforts and contributions from Innovation Norway, and NOK 28 million in EU funds. NOK 50 million will now be raised in the new capital.
Hanne Storm doesn’t hide the fact that there have been major ups and downs in getting a ready-to-sell product, a miniature version of the Pain Sensor.
– There were big expenses and they were weak along the way. Now we have the product. It is time for a global commitment.
– Why did you spend so much time?
– It was important for him to work, to do the basic research. Maybe you are looking for security.
Approval in the US is expected next year, after which marketing can be intensified. The plan is now to increase the number of staff from six to ten in line with advance requests. And if all goes as planned, the company will be listed on Sweden’s low-threshold Nasdaq First Nordic stock exchange next year.
He can measure pain at home
Pain measurement is especially important in both palliative care and for clinicians to implement measures while the patient is still living at home.
The pain sensor checks if the patient is feeling well. The only goal is that they do not feel pain in the last days of life.
The experience of pain can be very individual.
Although we have objective ways to measure pain, the patient is always right, but we can use the information to ask questions so we better understand the patient’s situation.
Two global tech giants have already shown interest.
We have received inquiries from both Samsung and other big tech giants. Both are considering introducing such features into their health apps.
The first generation sensor was developed for research purposes, it was approved for use in Europe already in 2008, and it was used in many hospitals.
We received feedback from customers that they wanted a smaller unit. They also don’t want another monitor in the operating room, neither in the neonatal intensive care unit nor in the ICU, says Storm, who says the company has obtained 11 patents on everything from algorithms to electrodes.
The research has been discussed in 70 publications and has been pivotal to three PhDs. Clients include Oslo University Hospital (OUS) and hospitals on most continents. These have also conducted independent studies to verify pain measurements.
The Norwegian health tech company collaborates with Phillips and other technology suppliers for hospitals, so they are integrated into existing systems. However, I have avoided committing to exclusivity with anyone.
The use of emotional sweat is based on well-established pain research in the 1970s and 1980s.
Self-reported pain is usually a widely used pain indicator, but it is often required to ask the patient themselves. Self-report is also influenced by past and present anxiety, pain, depression, and social status rather than emotional sweat.
Newborn babies are not easy to understand. A 17-week-old premature baby can have a sensor under his feet, says Rebecca Karem, the company’s engineer and chief technology officer.
Other traditional methods of measuring pain are easily affected by circulation and breathing.
Our technology is for pain. Storm says that emotional pain is independent of the circulatory system and makes little difference between individuals.
According to the researcher, more objective pain measurements can contribute to reducing addictive opioids and increasing the efficiency of operating room use.
In recent years, Hanne Storm has worked hard to combine her entrepreneurial life with her work as a researcher at the University of Oslo (UiO).
For the professor, the Examiner project has become almost a way of life. For many years she hardly got a salary.
Even the little moments on the family boat you used to keep moving forward.
– I spent 100 percent of my free time.
She herself sees no contradiction between being an entrepreneur seeking funding and the ideals of the medical profession.
As a young doctor, I wanted to use my life for something useful that would benefit others. You are perfect. It is important that you use your abilities no matter what you do. Now I am using this impetus to bring the pain sensor into the market so that it will be put to use. I worked hard for it.
Now I’ve noticed a completely different maturity in the health care system to take advantage of research commercially.
When I started as a doctor, the goal wasn’t to make money from my research, Storm points out.(Conditions)Copyright Dagens Næringsliv AS and/or our suppliers. We would like you to share our cases using a link that leads directly to our pages. All or part of the Content may not be copied or otherwise used with written permission or as permitted by law. For additional terms look here.
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