As advances in medical technology have progressed, health care professionals have more ways to deal with traumatic injuries than ever before. But doctors at The Ohio State University identified one area that is lacking, and the result is a spinout company HDO Health, who is creating a niche product with the goal of saving lives.
“We’ve created a device that’s designed to prevent people from bleeding to death who have suffered a traumatic junctional wound,” said CEO Bryan Stewart. “That wound happens in the region where the leg meets the hip, so it’s kind of a niche tourniquet for a very specific application. You can imagine someone stepping on a landmine or an IED, or getting in a traumatic car accident or even being shot. They can bleed out from an injury in that part of the body, where a regular tourniquet isn’t effective.”
The technology came from co-founders J. Allen McElroy, an Ohio State doctor, and Nadi Graham, an Ohio State Highway Patrol administrator and former medic, “lamenting their dissatisfaction with existing products.” One night at dinner, the pair literally designed the device on the back of a napkin. Soon, they added Ohio State professor Tanya Nocera to the team, launching the company and meeting Stewart through OSU connections. With the founders’ varied backgrounds, there’s no limit to where the device may end up being used.
“In the end, it’s about wherever we’re needed,” Stewart said. “We’re really passionate about saving lives. Of course we want to found a company and be financially successful, but from a legacy perspective, we want to help save someone’s life with this device. In the U.S. market, our entry point is most likely going to be the military and then expand to law enforcement, police, fire, EMS and beyond. Then, these devices could be at schools, churches, malls, stadiums — anywhere they might be needed.”
But the quartet of founders doesn’t plan to stop innovating when the junctional tourniquet goes to market. If all goes as planned, Stewart said, the group wants to continue creating devices that meet unmet needs in a variety of applications.
“Our vision is to get this on the market, sell the technology and then approach another unmet need that is ripe for disruption,” he said. “We’re looking for niche clinical problems, and we have the advantage of having founders who are living this day-to-day and seeing the pain points of a hospital operating room and in a real-world law enforcement space with tactical medicine. We want to be a company that provides rapid innovation with niche products.”
From their early funding through the Ohio Third Frontier’s Technology Validation and Start-up Fund to their Ohio State connections, HDO Health is a testament to the resources and relationships being fostered in the Buckeye State.
“We’re a great example of how the things that Ohio has built are working and the great ecosystem that has been set up,” Stewart said. “Three of the four founders are OSU alumni and I got connected to the company through the Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship. Funds made available through the Ohio Third Frontier funded our early development and we’ve been able to find all of our non-dilutive funding through Ohio sources. Ohio has literally put their money where their mouth is to help us get here.”