Startup turns smartphone camera to wound care

Swift Medical, a startup building an app to help nurses identify and better care for wounds, recently raised $35 million in funding.

The rise of smartphone has led to a whole host of healthcare applications, from apps that pull in EKG readings to ones that analyze skin lesions. But relatively few are focused on wound care, which can often linger beneath the surface of other health problems.

Carlo Perez, an engineer who worked in 3-D graphics for AMD, began to focus more on wound care after co-founding Swift Medical. He had initially set out to build a broader telemedicine app using computer vision, but began to realize the full scope of the problem after co-founder Dr. Sheila Wang, a dermatologist, took him to a wound clinic.

One woman had been struggling with chronic wounds for 11 years, a painful condition where a wound doesn’t move through the usual sequence of repair in a timely fashion. Another man had been wounded in the foot from stepping on a Christmas ornament, but didn’t realize it because of diabetic neuropathy, which can lead to reduced feeling in the feet.

“We went from a really broad platform down to here’s where we can really make a difference,” Perez said in a Zoom interview. “It’s this hidden crisis. Quite honestly, for those that are outside of healthcare, you never really hear about it.”

Swift Medical developed an app to use a smartphone’s camera to come up with a 3-D model of a wound, and to automatically measure the wound circumference, type and process, which can be used to track if it is healing.

The goal is to better equip nurses to triage and treat these conditions, especially in a home care or nursing home setting. For example, patients who might sit or lay in bed without moving for long periods of time are more susceptible to pressure ulcers (also known as bedsores), another type of chronic wound.

“These are not simple. When you say bedsore … we’re talking about wounds the size of your fist that may form in a week,” he said. “There are a lot of challenges in healthcare, but this is a really huge one.”

The Toronto-based company recently raised $35 million led by Virgo Investment Group, which it plans to use to build out its technology and grow its footprint. Its technology is currently used by home health provider AccentCare, and is integrated with EHR provider Homecare Homebase.

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