CEO: Eric Stone
Based: San Francisco
Velano Vascular’s mission is to improve the hospital experience for patients and healthcare providers by reducing the pain and risk associated with drawing blood—a common, but often overlooked procedure.
The company’s disposable PIVO device attaches to the peripheral intravenous (IV) line that most hospital inpatients have, eliminating the need for repeated needle sticks. In addition to removing the pain from blood draws, the technology also reduces practitioner exposure to needles and therefore the risk of practitioner injury.
What makes Velano fierce
Blood draws today are a “fragmented approach,” said CEO Eric Stone. For relatively healthy people, who may get their blood drawn only a few times a year, needle sticks are not a big impact. But for the chronically ill, the elderly and other people who may have difficult venous access, Stone said, getting stuck with a needle several times a day may be “quite traumatic.”
The PIVO device earned FDA clearance in 2016. It works by attaching to a patient’s IV line, which is used to deliver fluids, medication or nutrients. IV lines may be used to aspirate blood samples, but only upon insertion. They soften up with time and blood aggregates at the end of the tubes, rendering them unusable for blood collection.
The PIVO device advances a small, flexible catheter through the IV line past the debris, overcoming the reasons the IV line fails to draw blood, Stone said. A practitioner attaches a blood collection device to the PIVO and collects as many tubes or syringes of blood as are needed.
PIVO’s immediate benefits to patients and providers are obvious, but Velano has eyes on the bigger picture. The device could standardize blood draws across hospitals, healthcare systems, and potentially beyond.
Velano has partnered with a number of health systems in various capacities. For example, Sutter Health and Intermountain Healthcare both piloted the PIVO device. And in July, Intermountain implemented the PIVO technology across its system, eliminating needle stick blood draws from its 22 hospitals.
“I’ve been told by our customers and partners that we are changing the face of medicine,” Stone said. “It’s a bold statement for a small company to make.” But the more time he spends in hospitals, he notices the impact the device makes on patients. “I don’t mean it with any level of arrogance,” he said. “This has been so overlooked for so long.”
What to look for
With its latest FDA clearance for the next-generation PIVO device and another $17 million in the bank, Velano is now looking to scale up its manufacturing and operations capabilities to meet demand from Intermountain and other hospital systems.
It has also been building out its team, recently having hired a new head of sales marketing and a new vice president of R&D. Velano is also planning to sign on some “well-known” customers in the near future, though Stone kept mum on their names.
Finally, the company is “investing heavily” in its product pipeline—“We’ve identified a whole host of challenges and unmet needs in the vascular access space,” Stone said. “Some are related to blood draw, while others are complementary, but actually quite distinct.”