A Cleveland-Area Startup is Saving Lives by Detecting Fevers Early

How Blue Spark Technologies is paving the way in continuous vital sign monitoring with TempTraq

A doctor smiles at a patient in an exam room

From surgical recovery to the intensive care unit, continuous monitoring of a patient’s vital signs is a crucial part of their care. Measuring pulse rate and blood pressure can help doctors and nurses detect health issues early and intervene with treatment quickly. However, other key vitals like body temperature are still measured every four hours. Cleveland startup Blue Spark Technologies is looking to change that with a first-of-its-kind wireless, continuous temperature monitor.

“We began as a company commercializing an innovative, thin, printable battery technology,” CEO John Gannon said. “We put that together with flexible circuitry and thought of putting this technology on a person to monitor their temperature. That idea is now our patented, FDA-cleared, flagship product, TempTraq. We’ve been through a number of successful clinical trials at the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.”

TempTraq is a thin, flexible patch that detects auxiliary temperature through the armpit. Every 10 seconds, the sensor records and transmits a patient’s temperature to a phone app via Bluetooth. That data is then collected through the app’s cloud aggregation backend, TempTraq Connect, and is sent to a clinician dashboard for monitoring.

“The biggest advantage of TempTraq is that we can detect fevers earlier than the standard of care,” Executive Vice President of Marketing and Innovation Matt Ream said. “Our University Hospitals study shows on average that we can detect fevers two and a half hours earlier. A University of Michigan study showed that we were able to detect confirmed blood infections an average of 18 hours earlier. Those results show that in inpatient care today, the standard of care isn’t great and is missing fevers.”

Gannon and Ream, the co-inventors of TempTraq, emphasized the importance of the device in particular for cancer patients and those recovering from surgery. For individuals in those care settings, conditions such as sepsis and blood infections have the potential to be deadly, and time is often a clinician’s best weapon.

“In that University of Michigan case study, doctors were using TempTraq in the outpatient setting for pediatric cancer patients,” Gannon said. “One patient, who was at home, showed a bit of fever activity. They called the doctor right when they got the fever indication and went to the emergency department, where a serious blood infection was identified. Only two hours after that did the oral thermometer first register a fever. Those stories of being able to impact people really motivate us.”

Ohio hospital systems have played a critical role in moving TempTraq from the development phase all the way to sales. The clinical trial partnerships combined with Ohio-based venture capital funding have helped propel Blue Spark Technologies into the manufacturing phase, which is something Gannon and Ream are looking forward to growing in the Cleveland area.

“We have our roots here in Ohio in our founding investors and early-stage partners,” Gannon said. “We also had an Ohio Development Services Agency (now Ohio Department of Development) loan from JobsOhio that allowed us to build out some of our manufacturing capabilities. Having that access and being able to build out when we did was really important for our development. Ohio has been a really good environment to evolve a medical company.”

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