Post-pandemic, hospitals are still struggling to adjust to fewer resources and employee burnout.
That’s part of the reason why Yardley-based software and precision health company Astarte Medical has been busy adjusting its digital health platform to help healthcare workers over the past few years.
Founded in 2016, the company develops digital tools that use data for feeding and nutrition to improve outcomes for NICU babies. Cofounder Tracy Warren told Technical.ly that the company has since found that hospitals wanted their platform to help with some of their “mundane” tasks as a way to fight burnout in healthcare workers, so the team adjusted their tech to provide more assistance with monitoring and alerting medical staff to the patients who face specific risks.
“It’s gone more to a unit-wide resource management as our first value proposition and then the standardization is embedded in that,” Warren said. “A lot of that’s been driven just by the burnout, and the desire for centers to kind of alleviate some of the mundane tasks that clinical teams are doing.”
The company has been focused on bringing on new clients to use its NICU Clinical Decision Support Platform, NICUtrition, which helps hospitals standardize feeding and nutrition in NICUs, Warren said: “Our goal right now is really to hit that critical mass of early adopters that are using the platform, generating evidence from its impact on improved care, which includes shorter length of stay, improved growth and shorter use of parenteral or IV nutrition.”
Astarte led Technical.ly’s 2020 RealLIST Startups — our roundup of most promising young tech companies — and it’s still showing promise now.
The company currently has four customers applying its platform: Arkansas Children’s Hospital, St. Bernards Medical Center, University of Virginia Children’s Hospital and Carilion Children’s Hospital. In 2022, its team participated in the Children Hospital of Los Angeles’ KidsX Accelerator for pediatric digital health companies that connected it to the University of Virginia health system. This summer, Astarte welcomed Carilion as a client.
“NICUtrition analyzes patient feeding practices and outcomes in a streamlined manner that eliminates time-consuming, cumbersome information collection by hand,” said Dena Goldberg, a dietician at Carilion Children’s hospital, in a written statement. “We eagerly await learning what the platform reveals about how feedings have changed and impacted infant growth and nutrition.”
The company is also looking to show how its platform can be applied outside of the NICU setting by introducing this platform to other pediatric areas such as cardiac ICU and pediatric ICU. Astarte also wants to continue working on gut and microbiome information as a way for medical staff and caregivers to feed babies more efficiently.
Warren said Astarte has been careful to grow slowly. The team remains small at around seven full-time employees.
“Part of our expertise and benefit is to only hire when we have the capacity to support those team members,” she said, “and so we’ve got really resilient, hardworking team members, but yeah, we’ve just taken on more work on a small base.”
Cofounder Tammi Jantzen stepped down from her role as CFO this summer, Warren said, but remains on the board of directors. The board also includes newcomer Marcus Osborne, the CEO of RightMove, a digital health company focused on musculoskeletal care. Another new face: Jeremy Dombroski joined the company as the new CFO this summer.
The company’s last big fundraising round was $7.6 million in 2021, but Warren said they hope to announce a new funding round this fall. Overall, Astarte is focused now on gaining more customers, continuing work in the gut health and microbiome space, and expanding its reach into other pediatric units.
“We’re not just a NICU company. I mean, it’s a great market and we love it. We consider ourselves a leader,” Warren said. “But there are other pediatric populations that we think we can make an impact on.”Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
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