Joen Averstad, CEO Typically, a blood sample’s journey in a healthcare system begins from the clinic, where a doctor or nurse collects an individual’s blood in a vacuum tube or a syringe. These containers are then sent to a central laboratory to have the specimen analyzed to enable diagnosis of any present diseases. The blood sample is labeled, centrifuged, transported and analyzed to deliver the report, all of which often takes about an hour, in an acute situation. This is when, the case of blood being hemolyzed or not, comes out. If the blood sample is hemolyzed, meaning it has broken red blood cells, then the sample is deemed unfit for many types of common analyses and the entire process of collecting the blood sample needs to be repeated. This results in prolonged waiting time for patients and a subsequent delay in medical decisions as well as contributes to inefficient work processes and increased costs. Such outcomes are highly undesirable— especially if the patients are in critical conditions, trauma emergencies, and other high mortality situations in a hospital. The problem worsens when the patients are children as it gets difficult to collect blood samples over and over and you want to avoid puncturing children more than once. Also, the delay in blood test analysis may cause overcrowding of hospitals, especially emergency departments, which have proven negative effects on patient safety and outcomes. In fact, every year, hemolysis blemishes millions of blood tests, which leads to delayed test results and unnecessary overhead charges. Having worked as a physician and a nurse, Dr. Mathias Karlsson witnessed the negative effects of hemolysis while he treated newborn children. He needed quick and accurate analytical responses to provide the best possible care to his patients.
To eliminate the adverse detrimental effects of hemolysis, Dr. Karlsson founded HemCheck, a Sweden-based medical technology company, to create hemolysis level gauge equipment or Helge. The product is a market-ready, patented and CE-marked point-of-care (POC) hemolysis detection solution. Helge allows for screening blood samples for hemolysis before they are sent for analysis. Promising high health economic analysis efficiencies by a whopping $100 million annually, HemCheck’s Helge cuts down hemolysis test turnaround time from an industry standard of 45-100 minutes to less than ten seconds.
The essence of Helge is to increase patient safety and reduce the risk of clinical errors to drive better patient
Covering Samples from Vacuum Tubes and Syringes
Helge offers physicians two types of disposable tests—v-Test for vacuum tubes and s-Test for blood gas syringes. These tests are integrated with a common, portable and battery-operated reader that promptly checks whether a blood sample is hemolyzed. Physicians or nurses can simply insert the vacuum tube into the v-Test where a needle punctures the septa and a small amount of whole blood is inserted into the test which instantly separate plasma for detection of hemolysis. The v-Test can then be placed onto the reader that photometrically analyzes the plasma to detect if the blood sample is hemolyzed, according to an adjustable cut-off level. The reader is activated with the pressing of a button, starting the evaluation of the disposable test. The answer is communicated through a red or a green lamp. The physician or nurse can draw another blood sample immediately in case it is hemolyzed and test it again. Since the feedback is immediate, practitioners will also be able to adjust the way the blood is drawn and learn from errors made. As part of the offering, Hemcheck also provides customers with training in best practice blood drawing to reduce the pre-analytical errors causing hemolysis. “Hemcheck’s v-Test is particularly helpful in environments where correct answers are needed quickly, the analyses performed are costly, and the risk of hemolysis is high,” says Joen Averstad, CEO of HemCheck.
Working in a similar fashion, the s-Test is used for syringe blood samples. The purpose of Hemcheck’s test for blood samples in blood gas syringes is to detect hemolyzed blood gas samples directly in connection to the blood gas analysis, as this feature is absent in all blood gas instruments on the market. Blood gas analysis is routinely performed in hospitals and is a key tool when quick answers are required for critical diagnoses. Blood gas analysis, like normal blood sampling, can also be affected by hemolysis. With Helge, physicians can now detect if blood gas samples are hemolyzed. “The process is quick, effortless, and cost-effective.
A patient’s test results can be produced more expeditiously, delivering a new level of satisfactory patient care,” states Averstad.
HemCheck’s hemolysis tests can be used in any location be it in a homecare setting, hospital, or even transportation due to its compact and portable design. “With Helge, hemolysis blood screening can be performed wherever a blood sample is drawn.”
Additionally, to understand how common hemolysis is in different environments and to verify product performance, healthcare professionals at HemCheck conducted hemolysis studies at various emergency departments. The research depicted that around eight per cent of blood gas samples and around ten per cent of vacuum tube samples are hemolyzed, which impedes a physician’s ability to trust blood gas analysis results and timely make a correct clinical decision while it also increases medical charges. “The essence of Helge is to increase patient safety and reduce the risk of clinical errors to drive better patient outcomes,” adds Averstad.
Expanding the Reach of Helge
To further elucidate on Helge’s capabilities, Averstad recalls a recent success story of a study at an emergency department at a large healthcare provider. Leveraging Helge, the healthcare provider was able to identify hemolytic samples directly at the point of care, which could enable a reduction in the occurrence of hemolytic samples in the lab by more than 80 per cent for Potassium and Troponin T, a critical biomarker used to diagnose myocardial infarction, thereby ensuring quick test results and streamlined clinical decision-making processes. “With Helge, we can reduce the challenges created by hemolysis including spiralling healthcare costs, increased workloads for healthcare professionals and above all, unnecessary suffering for patients,” says Averstad.
Such a product in the marketplace is revolutionizing blood sample analysis for laboratory professionals across the globe and promises to help health systems improve their health economic outcomes. Moving forward, HemCheck intends to expand geographically and enter European markets of neighbouring countries, while gaining traction among local healthcare providers in Sweden as well. The U.S. markets are also deemed highly attractive and would be the natural next step, especially since the company has patents in both the U.S. and Europe.
Description HemCheck provides services for quality assurance of blood samples. Helge detects hemolysis within a few seconds in blood samples in vacuum tubes as well as blood gas syringes at the point of care
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