Starling Medical’s new urine testing device turns your toilet into a health tracker • TechCrunch
If you enjoy good bathroom tech, then I think “urine” is a treat. starling doctor is about to launch its home urine diagnostics and patient monitoring platform, dubbed “StarStream”, which does not rely on traditional capture vessels or test strips.
Now, if you’re thinking this technology sounds familiar, you’d be right: my colleague Haje Jan Kamps wrote about Withings U-scan, a urinalysis device, earlier this month when the health-focused consumer technology company unveiled it at CES. U-Scan is also placed on the toilet for in-home monitoring.
However, Alex Arevalos, co-founder and CEO of Starling, told TechCrunch that this is an underserved market: the global urinalysis market it’s forecast to be worth $4.9 billion by 2026, which means there’s plenty of room for Withings and a scrappy startup.
The Houston-based company wants to avoid hospitalizations for chronic conditions, including urinary tract infections, diabetes and kidney disease, and will eventually move on to dozens of other health conditions that urine tests can detect, including preeclampsia during the pregnancy.
Working together with urologist partners and insurance providers, the patient gets a reusable device that plugs into the toilet and connects to AI-powered digital health analytics. If a problem is detected after a patient uses the bathroom, Starling connects him with her doctor for more information.
Starling’s StarStream is actually the company’s second iteration. In January 2020, Arevalos and co-founders Hannah McKenney and Drew Hendricks were working on a catheter device that allowed patients with neurological bladder dysfunction to urinate at the push of a button.
Using some AI sensors and spectroscopy, the catheter would track the urine still in a patient’s bladder to detect urinary tract infections, which can lead to hospitalizations and sepsis.
While reviewing Y Combinator’s winter 2022 batch, they came up with two ideas: take the sensors and pair them with an easy-to-use home device that doctors and patients have been asking for, and put that device in the toilet.
And, rather than just focusing on neurological dysfunctions of the bladder, this would open them up to working with a larger market, including people with diabetes and preeclamptic kidney disease, which ends up being about a third of all patients in the United States. Arevalos said.
Over the past year, the company has developed the device and technology and has already validated its predictive models through a clinical study in partnership with Stanford University. It also closed with $3.4 million in seed funding, led by the Rebel Fund.
Also participating in the Y Combinator round were Innospark Ventures, AI Basis, Capital Factory, Coho Deeptech, Magic Fund, Rogers Family Office, Hendricks Family Office, ReMy Ventures, Centauri Fund, Praxis SCI Institute, Gaingels and a group of angel investors.
The funds will go toward building an engineering team, developing the device and software, and hiring nurses and support staff. Nurses review urinalysis data and file patient remote monitoring reimbursements. The company now has 10 employees.
In Q1 2023, StarStream’s monitoring device and service will roll out with the first enterprise customer for Starling, a large private practice in Texas with approximately 200,000 urology patients and the potential for $144 million in annual recurring revenue. , according to Arevalos.
After getting the first client up and running, he envisions adding additional physician groups across Texas, even saying there’s enough patient potential to “turn Starling into a unicorn without ever leaving Texas.”
Arevalos touted StarStream as “the world’s first FDA-registered service,” explaining that Starling Medical can claim that title because, on the one hand, Withings’ U-Scan will launch first in Europe, and because it believes Starling is the first in applying this type of model: analysis and connection with care in the back-end.
“Only available data alone cannot help if there is no follow-up,” he added. “Historically, one of the challenges is just convincing people to try something new and flush something down the toilet. In doing so, it enables improvements in patient health, new revenue for our medical partners, and cost savings for patients who do not have to go through hospitalization.”