February 6, 2023
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CRELY aims to detect problems early

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Catching issues early is sometimes the best form of medicine there is. With enough time, power and resources, catching something early is the difference between life and death.

For this medical-device startup out of Oxnard, catching something early is literally in its name.

CRELY, a shorthand for credible, reliable, and early, was founded in 2018, but has made some major moves in the past year and is in the process of possibly changing lives in 2023.

In Nov., CRELY announced it had partnered with the Surgical Infection Society to expedite the clinical diagnosis and management of surgical site infections. 

The Surgical Infection Society is a national organization committed to the understanding, prevention, and treatment of surgical site infections

“They’re really the experts on surgical site infections and to get their partnership and their ability to collaborate them really lends credibility to what we’re doing,” Darren Lee, CRELY’s chief business officer, told the Business Times.

“It’s one thing for us to come up with something that we’re working on but when you get an outside entity that is the expert in an area to back you up that lends validity and credibility to what we’re doing.”

With the partnership also came the announcement of its latest invention — a sensor that continuously monitors the healing process of a surgical site, and proprietary software that can credibly predict a surgical site infection at its earliest stages, CRELY founder and CEO Arun Sethuraman said in a press release.

Lee said the company hopes that the sensor will be out to market in the next 60 days.

This sensor is a wearable medical device that uses an artificial intelligence-based warning system to predict and detect the likelihood of surgical site infections.

According to CRELY, 60% of surgical site infections were detected after discharge from the hospital. Current diagnostic tools and methods are inadequate to provide credible, reliable and timely evidence of an imminent infection of the surgical site post-surgery, thus leading to the idea for this sensor.

The body sensor patch collects vital signs data constantly and unobtrusively from the patient, CRELY said.

Individual patients’ specific risk factors, such as diabetic status and BMI, are gathered from the Electronic Health Record systems and added to the sensor data to create real-time visibility of wound healing and potential infection.

The information is then reviewed and sent to the patient’s physician in real-time. 

Early detection of infection allows clinicians time to intercede before it can progress negatively and hinder the healing process. By catching complications earlier, it aims to diminish complications and readmissions, thus bettering patient satisfaction, care and results.

Lee joined the company in 2022, a big reason being that he could join his former classmate, Sethuraman, as the two studied together at Harvard.

Originally, the idea behind the device was one that tracked motion more through physical therapy. Ultimately the market for a device like that was too crowded, so Sethuraman asked what he could do next. 

He explained that in healthcare, companies and patients negotiate prices for insurance.

However, when a patient is readmitted for a wound thought to have already been taken care of, patients aren’t often reimbursed for that.

He added if hospitals have too many readmissions, not only do hospitals have to pay a cost, but hospitals also sometimes face a levy for poor care. 

“One place (a hospital) would have cases of readmission is through post-surgery infection. And if a patient is admitted through the Emergency Room, it’s even more expensive,” said Lee. 

Having previously served as the President and CEO of a pair of acute-care hospitals and a skilled nursing facility in California, under the Dignity Health System, Lee understands the big difference this can make for patients.

It’s the other big reason why Lee decided to join the company in 2022.

“I was really excited about the opportunity to literally be able to be part of something that could change the healthcare landscape. Not only in the care that we can provide, but being able to do it very cost-effectively,” Lee said.

“Cardiac care is more and more relevant; we see technology change a lot in that area so this spoke loud and clear to me.”

Lynn Hydo, Executive Director for the North American chapter of the Surgical Infection Society, also noted the important change this device could make.

“They came looking for us. They knew we were studying cutting-edge science and wanted to learn about it while we wanted to know about the really cool technology they had that could detect an infection a few days before a human can,” Hydo said.

The premise of the work really was figuring out how AI could be leveraged to find infection sooner than even a red mark on one’s own body.

 “We are looking at a long-term relationship with CRELY. We are hoping the product is great and that we can do wonderful things with CRELY going forward,” she said.

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