When working with kidney patients for a time span of 15 years, Pirgit Silvast-Äikäs realized that the current way to evaluate peritoneal function is time-consuming for patients and medical professionals, as well as prone to errors, which also consumes healthcare resources. Moved by this, a unique smart monitoring device was conceived – and that is the story of how Smart PD Solutions and Kiwecare came to be.
Starting its journey as Smart PD Solutions, the company now specifies Kiwecare as the brand name for its peritoneal dialysis monitoring device. “When we started, Pirgit had a very detailed idea of our product. It has been a few years, and we have developed several product ideas related to kidney-related tools and products”, explains Juha Remahl, Business Development Director. “We will officially stay Smart PD Solutions, and we will provide different solutions to different phases of Chronic Kidney Disease patients, professionals and product manufacturers. Kiwecare is our monitoring device, and it will be branded under the name Kiwecare”.
With the mission to increase the quality of life for patients suffering from kidney diseases, support healthcare services and professionals, and reduce healthcare-related costs, the solution is designed to provide real-time data and insights to patients and healthcare providers, ensuring that the treatment is optimized. In terms of the patients’ quality of life, Pirgit Silvast-Äikäs, Founder and CEO, explains: “Nowadays, there is no way to control what is happening in the peritoneal membrane with our patients. But they are doing this treatment at home, alone, and they see doctors once or every second month. In that period of time, we don’t know what is happening in their peritoneum. We have some records of how the machine itself is working, but not of what is actually happening with the patient. With our solution, our aim is to get the patient to have a soft beginning in peritoneal dialysis. When we use the monitoring device, we can easily change the amount of liquids and change the prescription, and it is safe for the patients and for professionals in the hospital”. The device also gives patients more free time, since they don’t need to visit the hospital as frequently: “They can do the dialysis themselves at home, and they have those days free, so they can study, they can go to work, and so on. So, the quality of life is better in this kind of treatment”.
“We want to make a difference”
Currently, the team is in a stage of data collection. “We are getting data points from health records, and lab results, and our monitoring device will provide that data from the dialysis treatment. Combining that with the data that is available, we are able to create a platform for product manufacturers and doctors to make a more efficient treatment, to optimize the treatment to make it patient-specific”, Remahl shares. “The dialysis treatment is a bit old-fashioned. It hasn’t changed much in the last 20 years, there were not many innovations. So now we provide innovations in the form of getting more information about the treatment. We believe that empowering the patients with the information about what is happening allows them to do many things differently in the future”.
The company recently inaugurated their first lab facilities. “We want to test our sensors ourselves, in Oulu and in our own facilities”, says Silvast-Äikäs. Remahl adds to that: “We have been using services outside of our company, but now we are entering the phase when we are getting patient samples and trying out our biosensors against these real patient samples. That is also why we need our own lab that we can control. We want to be able to do the research needed for the medical device”.
The new facilities suit the plans for the next years, as they now advance to the stage of clinical trials. “It is a very interesting time for us. We have a good idea of how to make the sensor and map our results against medical data available from systems”, Remahl explains. “It will probably be our research focus for the next year. But we are now also having conversations with subcontractors, about repairing the mechanical designs, cloud services, developing the app… The development is happening on many fronts at this point. We are dedicated to research. We want to make a device that makes a difference and is based on research”.
While the solution has received funding from Business Finland and other investors, it is a long way from the development phase until the product reaches the market. But Remahl believes that the device will in the future attend to the needs of patients, the healthcare sector, and society as a whole: “We believe this will be a globally successful story, because we are listening to the needs of the doctors and the patients, wanting to know when the device is ready and available. We want to make a difference. There are medical companies that could have this as a great investment opportunity while making a significant difference in the world by creating these kinds of devices that actually help the patients”, he says. “Our monitoring device also aims to create savings in government treatments. Chronic Kidney Disease is very costly for society, and our product aims to make it as efficient as possible, make it available at home, and develop it further, so there will be savings for a lot of things”.
Text: Beatriz Rocha, Health and Life Science, BusinessOulu
Image: Pirgit Silvast-Äikäs, Smart PD Solutions