Elizabeth Pouya, CEO and Founder of Medframe LLC, created the ProtectiScope to address the need for effective stethoscope hygiene. Pouya’s startup was one of 10 finalists at the latest CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Awards, a Shark Tank-style pitch event in which Connecticut-based entrepreneurs and startups pitch to a panel of expert judges for a chance to win up to $10,000.
Innovation Destination Hartford: When launch your startup and how did you develop the business concept?
POUYA: ProtectiScope was started with several other students and physicians as a project. We were at a healthcare conference focused on improving the patient experience and I had simply pitched this idea of stethoscope hygiene, which stemmed from my own experiences in clinical settings.
We started to look at what already existed on the market that could tend to this problem. We really struggled to understand why physicians and nurses were not already disinfecting their stethoscopes consistently each time a patient was seen. That’s when we started to brainstorm ways in which we could potentially change that behavior.
A stethoscope is one of the most commonly used instruments in healthcare and it is used on hundreds of patients each week! Further market research showed this problem has been around and attended to for quite some time.
We designed an initial prototype that was presented to a panel of judges who were thoroughly impressed with the design concept. We decided to go forth with ProtectiScope development and raise funding. We won first place at UConn’s Innovation Quest in 2016. Not long after, Medframe LLC was formed and we had a startup on our hands!
IDH: How does your product, the ProtectiScope, meet a need in the industry?
POUYA: Every time someone enters their primary care physician’s office, an emergency room, or even a senior living facility, they have an increased risk of acquiring an infection from a multitude of surfaces. Common factors among these places are the stringent hand hygiene requirements and the frequent use of the stethoscope. What if clinicians were actually re-infecting their hands each time they picked up their stethoscope?
The WHO Director of the Infection Control program claims stethoscopes should be thought of as “an extension of a physician’s hand.”
We believe the peril of stethoscope bacterial transmission is a problem worth tending to, especially given that stethoscopes are not going to become obsolete anytime soon. Businesses that sell to the healthcare industry really need to provide a benefit to the hospital or practice and/or the patients.
Our product, ProtectiScope, provides just that by lessening the concern hospital-acquired infections impose on patients and potentially reducing readmission risk.
IDH: Why did you become involved in the CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Awards?
POUYA: One of the problems we have been facing (that is no surprise in the startup world), is a lack of funding needed for ProtectiScope development to get to our next step.
It was recommended that I apply to the CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Awards during the Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI) Summer Fellowship I participated in for eight weeks and again at an XCellR8 meeting in August (hosted by Kevin Bouley, President of Nerac).
I applied to the CTNext Entrepreneur Innovation Awards with the intention that it would assist us in reaching our funding goal and, if not, it would be another opportunity to receive more feedback from the judges.
IDH: What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a startup?
POUYA: The biggest challenges have easily been getting the market validation we need from administrators and other c-level executives in healthcare. Getting ProtectiScope into hospitals will be difficult. Some obstacles include a clinical study we will have to conduct in the future to demonstrate that ProtectiScope actually works. With this comes more dollars toward development and added product refinement. We hope to get to market with a minimum viable product as soon as possible and just continue to welcome feedback from there.
IDH: Where do you see your company in the next few years?
POUYA: Medframe LLC is pre-revenue and currently developing the beta of a device that can be used by physicians and nurses to conveniently protect their stethoscopes from becoming contaminated. The goal is to become the Purell of stethoscope hygiene by essentially having a ProtectiScope dispenser in every room and corner of hospitals and doctors’ offices.
In the next few years, I hope to have drawn enough attention to Medframe such that emphasis of stethoscope hygiene is almost parallel to hand hygiene. I think one advantage we have is the force that increasing awareness by the general population adds to the demand for ProtectiScope.
The end goal we are aiming to accomplish is turning ProtectiScope into the ultimate standard for stethoscope protection. Ideally within five years we’ll be significantly closer to achieving that goal.
Learn more about Medframe LLC by visiting www.protectiscope.com.