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Velano Vascular reels in $25M to keep building blood-draw business

The San Francisco-based company hopes its PIVO device, which uses an existing catheter already inserted in patients to draw blood, becomes the standard in hospitals nationwide.

By Joel Berg for MedCity News — December 17, 2019

Velano Vascular has closed on $25 million in funding that will help the company advance its goal of transforming how blood is drawn from hospital patients.

The company’s chief product is called the PIVO. The FDA-approved device allows providers to draw blood through an already-inserted catheter rather than use a fresh needle.

“We refer to it as the one-stick hospitalization,” Eric Stone, Velano Vascular’s CEO, said in a phone interview. “Our aim, and I’ve been very open about this, is to make PIVO the standard of care around the world,” he said.

More than a billion blood draws take place in inpatient settings per year and Stone said the product has been used in more than 1 million procedures to date.

In pursuit of the goal to make it the standard of care, San Francisco-based Velano Vascular has raised more than $50 million overall, including the latest $25 million, which was announced Tuesday. The company’s investors include Kapor CapitalWhite Owl Capital Partners and Utah-based health system Intermountain Healthcare. Intermountain has been using PIVO since 2018.

The new funding will go toward hiring staff and gathering clinical data on PIVO’s performance, Stone said. In addition, the company plans to expand manufacturing capacity in the U.S. A new plant is expected to open next year, but Stone declined to say where.

The device, which comes in different sizes, is a flexible single-use tube that can be inserted through an existing IV line to draw blood.

“We are on a trajectory in the near future to deliver millions of one-stick hospitalizations and that is part of what this financing can support operationally, technically and otherwise,” Stone said.

New products also are in the pipeline for Velano Vascular. They would target the issue of vascular access with the goal of reducing needle sticks, especially in patients where access is difficult due to age, obesity or chronic disease.

“We’ve identified that the fragmented practice around vascular access and line selection has a lot of room for improvement,” Stone said. He said he expected to announce new products in 2020.

In the meantime, PIVO has been winning over converts in healthcare, where few seem satisfied with the status quo.

“Needle sticks are the No. 1 remembered hospital experience for patients,” said Constance Girgenti, a registered nurse and vascular access specialist at AMITA Health Saint Joseph Medical Center Joliet in Joliet, Illinois. And patients are rarely stuck just once, she said in a phone interview.

“It becomes three today and then it’s three tomorrow and all of a sudden they’re stuck 20 times during a hospital stay,” she said, noting that the frequency raises the risk of infection.

Girgenti has not used PIVO but has heard of the product. “From what I’ve read, it seems like a good idea,” she said in a phone interview. “If we can reduce needle sticks for patients, that’s important.”

And the numbers ultimately should determine whether a device like the PIVO should be adopted. “If the data shows that it saves needle sticks, why wouldn’t a hospital want to use it?” said Girgenti, who also leads a public policy task force for the Association for Vascular Access. The group aims to make vascular access specialists more common in hospitals.

A number of hospitals already have adopted PIVO. One is Griffin Health, a one-hospital health system in Derby, Connecticut. Griffin started using PIVO nearly two years ago in its emergency department, said Dr. Fred Browne, Griffin’s vice president of medical affairs. It is now used throughout the 165-bed Griffin Hospital. Griffin also is an investor in Velano Vascular.

The PIVO’s adoption stemmed, in part, from Griffin’s status as a flagship hospital for Planetree, an international organization that emphasizes patient-focused care, Browne said in a phone interview.

“Patients really enjoy the fact that they don’t get stuck by needles,” Browne said.

While Griffin has had a positive experience, he said, it could be a challenge convincing hospitals and health systems to give PIVO a try. It requires a major transformation in blood-draw practices.

“It does take quite a bit of effort and education to do that,” Browne said.

Other users include Centura Health, a Colorado-based health system with 17 hospitals in Colorado and Kansas. The system began using PIVO in October 2018 at Littleton Adventist Hospital and completed a systemwide rollout over the next 12 months, said Dawn Bloemen, a strategic emerging technology analyst at Centura Health.

“It was first and foremost a patient experience initiative,” Bloemen said in a phone interview, noting that PIVO does not work in every case. Providers might need a traditional needle depending on the condition of a patient’s IV site. And, she said, needles are required for blood cultures. Still, the devices are used in more than 80% of blood draws at Centura Health, she said.

The overall reduction in needle sticks has benefited staff, Bloemen added. At one Centura Health site, accidental needle sticks dropped from 12 over a rolling 12-month period to zero.

“This has just been a huge benefit,” Bloemen said.

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