A worried parent brings a suffering child into a pediatrician’s office with a suspected ear infection. All the symptoms are there. Ear pain, pulling on the ears, fever, sleeplessness. But the course of action is anything but clear. That’s the challenge with a middle ear infection. Is it viral or bacterial? Does your child need antibiotics? Even with an otoscope, you can’t tell just by looking at it. So pediatricians have two choices – send the parent and child home for watchful waiting or refer the child to a specialist who may spend thousands of dollars on tests to know for sure.
Not surprisingly, with a 50/50 chance of getting it right, studies show diagnostic error rates of middle ear infections averages 50%. The CDC is also concerned because antibiotics are given 85% of the time but only deemed necessary in 15% of cases. A massive overprescription of antibiotics for a common childhood problem.
The first ever Ultrasound Otoscope
OtoNexus Medical Technologies has developed a simpler way to immediately diagnose the type of infection thanks to a breakthrough in technology: The Ultrasound Otoscope.
OtoNexus uses miniaturized ultrasound technology to measure the type of middle ear infection (otitis media). By embedding a specially developed chip in the speculum – the cone-shaped attachment to the device – OtoNexus can measure the sound waves reflected through the air and determine whether an infection is present and if it’s viral or bacterial.
The OtoNexus ultrasound otoscope is shaped and sized like a traditional otoscope, and used the exact same way. The pediatrician places a disposable speculum on the device, inserts it into the patient’s ear, and activates the device with the touch of a button. Using ultrasound, it instantly differentiates all disease states of the otitis media and identifies a clear course of action for the physician. Because the technology works through the air, there’s no need for ultrasound gel.
Ear infections are the number one ailment suffered by children and can cause everything from pain and discomfort to permanent hearing loss if improperly diagnosed and treated. The average pediatrician performs an average of 6,000 otoscopic examinations per year. In the U.S. alone, physicians use 1 Billion specula per year for ear exams.
Middle ear infections are also the number one reason pediatricians prescribe antibiotics. Unfortunately, because of the high rate of misdiagnosis, many of those antibiotics are improperly prescribed which has contributed significantly to antibiotic-resistant germs.
In addition to improving patient care and reducing antibiotic resistance, the OtoNexus ultrasound otoscope has the potential to increase income for pediatricians while lowering medical costs overall. Currently, pediatricians are not reimbursed for middle ear examinations using a traditional otoscope. But with OtoNexus, this procedure now is an ultrasound examination and they can charge for the use of the speculum with an existing medical insurance code. The device is priced to be affordable for physicians and independent clinics. The disposable speculum provides a razor/razorblade model allowing physicians to now earn income on the thousands of ear exams they perform every year.
Diagnosing a middle ear infection correctly earlier lowers overall medical costs by reducing the number of return office visits, improperly prescribed antibiotics, unnecessary specialty referrals, and complications that arise from a misdiagnosis.
OtoNexus has prototypes of the ultrasound otoscope in tests at four clinical sites. They have also received support and funding from Children’s Hospital of Minnesota, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the NSF, NIH, Delta Dental and others.
The company is led by a team of ultrasound and business specialists with over 120 years of expertise in the field. Based in Seattle, OtoNexus is privately held and committed to delivering the first medical device to allow clinicians to instantly assess middle ear infections and determine when and when not to prescribe antibiotics.
If you’d like to learn more about OtoNexus and talk to their management team about its promising breakthrough technology, contact Steven Saltzstein, CEO of Force Wealth and we’ll happily make the introduction.
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