After going through several stages of evolution, the healthcare sector is predominantly fueled by technology as its influence and reach have spread throughout contemporary healthcare systems.
Point-of-Care Technologies is a group of tools used where patients receive care to enhance medical results. Common examples of PoCT include blood glucose meters, urine dipsticks, pregnancy tests, fast strep testing, rapid HIV tests, and hemoglobin level assays.
Onalabs is a bioengineering technology company dedicated to improving patient and individual well-being and quality of life, lowering hospitalization costs, lowering healthcare spending, and deploying intelligent, non-invasive, and continuous biomarker monitoring solutions.
Under the adept leadership of Elisabet del Valle, Co–founder and CEO, it offers an extensive long-term product pipeline with items for monitoring key health indications and important metabolic biomarkers (such as lactate and glucose). Devices for chronically difficult and frail patients and home hospitalization, gadgets for diabetic patients, and devices for sports health; make up its product pipeline.
Below are highlights of the interview that show Onalabs’ commitment to provide comprehensive non-invasive continuous monitoring solutions to monitor physiological biomarkers in a simple and affordable way.
Elisabet, please enlighten our readers about your professional tenure in the healthcare industry.
I have a Ph.D. in Biotechnology and a degree in Biochemistry, so I love science and technology. Still, when I finished my academic training, I realized that what passionately interested me even more than the science itself was the management of innovation and science. For that reason, I completed my academic background by doing some master’s work in the management of biotechnology companies.
So, I have dedicated my entire professional life to the management of innovation and science. I have more than 15 years of experience in patents, licensees, technology transfer, and innovation strategy. Nowadays, I am running Onalabs, and I am also an associate professor at Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (Autonomous University of Barcelona) in the Business Department, teaching classes in business management and innovation strategy. Trying to generate new young entrepreneurs.
What are the core values that Onalabs stands by? What is its mission and vision statement?
Vision: To lead the future towards inclusive, personalized, sustainable, and universal health.
Mission: To create a new generation of non-invasive and smart medical-grade wearables to monitor people’s health anytime, anywhere, without pain, and without them realizing it.
Achievement: For us, success means more people enjoying a higher quality of life through our technology to facilitate the monitoring of their main parameters through comfortable, innovative, and reliable devices to be by their side in order for them to feel more liberated and to improve their athletic performance. We are persevering because our dream is to make the dreams of others come true.
Innovation: Research is part of our DNA. Our R&D team works to develop cutting-edge solutions that demonstrate a before and after in sports measurement or health management. We are disruptive; we have the knowledge, technology, and expertise to do it.
Freedom: We want to empower people and contribute to their freedom through intelligent solutions focused on their real needs, facilitating their daily care. Health begins with knowledge of our bodies, and our greatest encouragement is to achieve it in a non-invasive and rigorous way.
Universalism: Health should be a universal right, and at Onalabs, we want to reach out to all people; athletes, patients, and medical professionals. We are plural, collaborative, and global. Because by improving people’s health, we will contribute to improving the world in which we live.
What, in your opinion, are the key challenges in the healthcare sector? How is your company turning those challenges into opportunities?
The Coronavirus has really changed our daily lives; it has accelerated the need to reduce the visits of risky chronic patients to the hospital, enhancing remote assistance. Moreover, there is an increased burden on healthcare systems due to the aging population and longer life expectancy. It’s time to accelerate remote patient monitoring. There are a lot of IT platforms to visualize clinical data, and wearable technologies are leading the market to improve remote patient monitoring. However, real telemedicine is still far away from becoming a reality.
One of the most important limitations is that current technologies are limited because blood samples are required to detect most of the current biomarkers (glucose, lactate, and cortisol). This is a big barrier for remote and real-time monitoring and causes important problems.
As a result, Onalabs is creating a new generation of medical-grade wearables capable of measuring clinically reliable and remote real-time data of physical and biochemical biomarkers at the same time.
What are the key products and services offered by the company? How is it impacting the concerned demographic?
We have two products on the market.
Ona Vital: a bracelet with sensors and communications electronics that can remotely and in real-time monitor various physiological parameters, such as oxygen saturation, heart rate, blood pressure, skin temperature, and falls/activity. The market for this product is elderly people, chronic patient monitoring, and home hospitalization. The aging population continues to grow as life expectancy rises and fertility rates fall, and the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that 1.5 billion people will be 65 or older by 2050.
With age, a person’s cardiovascular system weakens, and the risk of cardiovascular diseases increases, making cardiovascular diagnosis and monitoring extremely crucial. Also, with the increasing unhealthy lifestyle, obesity, cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes, the risk of cardiovascular diseases is also increasing. It has been validated in one of Spain’s most prestigious hospitals, Hospital Germans Trias i Pujol.
Ona Sport: a chest strap that monitors, in real-time and in a non-invasive and remote way, different physiological parameters such as heart rate, sweat rate, electrolyte losses, and lactate levels without the need to make blood extractions or even measure the sweat. The market for this product is mainly focused on athletes and sports amateurs who want to control their dehydration levels and performance.
Nowadays, dehydration is a key factor for the performance and health status of athletes, which can develop into severe complications. Furthermore, there is no objective system for determining the type and severity of dehydration cases. And lactate is a reference indicator of muscular fatigue. Still, current methods require blood extractions to be measured, not allowing for this information to be available in real-time while training is being done.
In what ways is the company adapting and including constant technological upgrades? How has it impacted the company growth curve?
Onalabs was set up as a R&D company, so innovation is the heart of the company. We have developed a disruptive technology that allows us to measure different biomarkers in real-time in a completely non-invasive manner simply by measuring sweat and skin. With all of this information, we created the New Sweat Digital Biomarkers Platform, which will allow us to monitor a wide range of medical applications, including diabetes.
We have a very strong engineering team to update our innovative products. Still, we also have three advisory boards (a user/patient advisory board, a medical advisory board, and a business advisory board) that continuously give us the current unmet needs in the healthcare system.
What are the future goals of Onalabs, and how has it envisioned to scale its operations and reach in 2022 and beyond?
Our upcoming activities are on the way to consolidating two of the most important goals for Onalabs. On the one hand, consolidate us in the European market, and begin negotiations to enter the North American market. On the other hand, we must continue strengthening our position through strategic alliances with large key players to achieve an excellent position in a few years.