Byteflies: virtual care solutions for all

May 24, 2023 Article MEDVIA

Byteflies is on a mission to make virtual care available to all. The Belgian company has developed a platform for remote patient monitoring solutions, to save precious time for healthcare providers, reduce hospitalization costs, and boost the quality of life for patients. The aim is to aid the transition from fragmented to connected healthcare, enabling a continuum of care through virtual solutions.

By Amy LeBlanc. Header image: Byteflies sensor patch (credit: Lise Lynen).

Imagine that you’ve just woken up from heart surgery. You’re lying in a hospital bed, bemoaning the scratchy sheets, but overall very glad to be conscious. Under normal circumstances, you might be facing the prospect of several days in that bed, hooked up to a series of monitors all reading your vital signs to make sure that the surgery went well and nothing’s amiss. You feel fine, and as the days stretch on you become increasingly bored, frustrated, and fed up with the bland hospital food.

Now picture this alternative: you wake up in the same bed, but this time instead of a tangle of wires and beeping machines, there is just a slim patch on your chest with a small plastic sensor, about the size and width of a smartwatch. Instead of several days spent in the hospital, you’re sent home that very same evening, safe and secure in the knowledge that your cardiologist will automatically be alerted if your heart shows any signs of trouble. You have a far smoother recovery in the comfort of your own home, and the hospital bed is freed up for another patient with a more pressing health issue. This is the reality made possible by Byteflies’ virtual Care@Home solutions.

Technology that solves a problem

Byteflies is a Belgian company on a mission to make virtual care available to all, to address some of the challenges facing both patients and healthcare providers. Hans Danneels, co-CEO of Byteflies, explains: “Healthcare is currently very fragmented, with more patient monitoring happening in hospitals, but very little oversight pre-hospitalization or after a patient is sent home. This model is a problem for a number of reasons. Firstly, it places a lot of strain on healthcare workers, who are already short-staffed and overworked, and whose time and skills would be better put to use treating acute issues like surgeries and emergencies. We’re also seeing an increase in chronic diseases, where patients are in need of remote, long-term monitoring rather than the snapshots of information provided during a hospital stay. And finally, ageing populations are leading to a sharp rise in healthcare costs, with long inefficient hospital stays significantly contributing to these expenses.”

“There are too many companies that develop a new technology but fail to achieve the fundamental goal, which is to make the lives of patients and healthcare workers easier.” – Hans Danneels

To address these issues, Byteflies has developed a platform for remote patient monitoring solutions. The technology consists of a series of Sensor Dots: compact and comfortable devices which can be combined to monitor everything from cardiovascular issues, to epilepsy, clinical trials, covid, vital signs (EWS), and more. But what truly sets this company apart isn’t just the lego-like adaptability of the platform for different applications: Byteflies strives to take care of the whole monitoring process, from start to finish, making life as easy as possible for health care providers. If a doctor prescribes Care@Home to one of their patients, Byteflies will send the sensors straight to that patient’s home, collect the health data in a secure cloud, and use AI to derive actionable medical insights which are made available to the doctor via a user-friendly dashboard.

“There are too many companies that develop a new technology but fail to achieve the fundamental goal, which is to make the lives of patients and healthcare workers easier,” Danneels says. “No matter how good our sensors are, if they added to the workload of the nurses, doctors, and specialists using them, then we would have failed our mission. Technology is only ever an enabler – what we do at Byteflies is use our tech to actually solve a problem.”

Faster treatment optimization

Remote patient monitoring isn’t only good for healthcare workers, it is also hugely beneficial for patients. In addition to enabling recovery in the comfort of your own home, the Care@Home platform also facilitates long-term, continuous monitoring which can help doctors to optimize treatments and detect issues before they become emergencies. One example of this is the EpiCare@Home application, where the Byteflies platform has been used to create a monitoring system for epileptic seizures.

“Our vision for the future is for patients to be monitored in the comfort of their own homes, for longer stretches of time, so that treatments can be optimized faster, and interventions happen sooner.” – Hans Danneels

“Epilepsy is a severe, chronic condition, and for many patients the journey to finding the right treatment is long and tough,” Danneels explains. “This is partly because neurologists receive very limited information on the effectiveness of a new prescription after it has been prescribed. The current method is essentially for the patient to compile a self-report on their seizures over the course of several months, which makes the turnaround time for treatment adjustment very long.”

“With our system, the doctor can instead send the patient home with a new prescription and monitor the situation continuously for a couple of weeks, to gather information on the frequency and types of seizures that are occurring. The neurologist can then decide, based on subjective data, whether to adjust the dosage or type of medication. It shortens the feedback loop considerably, leading to better treatments for patients in a shorter time frame.”

Value-based healthcare for all

Healthcare providers are definitely onboard with Byteflies’ vision for virtual care: the company is already working with 30% of the hospitals in Belgium and is currently expanding their reach to The Netherlands, Germany, and the US. The company also has a long list of established partnerships with pharmaceutical and biotech companies, such as UCB, and renowned academic research institutions, including Oxford University, King’s College, and MIT.

“What makes us attractive to a lot of hospitals is that our platform provides partners with continuous and multimodal data,” Danneels says. “There are a few medtech companies out there that have developed remote heart monitoring products, for example, but which don’t also monitor brain activity, or blood pressure, or all of the other additional variables we’re able to gather in our one flexible system. This means the hospital has to work with multiple providers for different applications, which is impractical. We also prioritize interoperability, so the data can be linked to the patient’s electronic medical records. And the final thing that really sets Byteflies apart is the end-to-end service we provide, taking care of everything from delivering the sensors to analyzing the data, and making our solutions easy for doctors to incorporate into their workflow.”

Read this article to learn about another MEDVIA member CoMoveIT and its patient-driven mobility solutions!

Byteflies is ambitious; the 50-person company is growing fast, expanding both its multidisciplinary team and its services. The aim is for big impact, in hospitals across the world, Danneels confides:

“Our vision for the future is for patients to be monitored in the comfort of their own homes, for longer stretches of time, so that treatments can be optimized faster, and interventions happen sooner. A world where patients only need to go to the hospital for specialized interventions or emergencies, easing the burden on healthcare providers and lowering costs for society. A world where value-based healthcare is available to all.”

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MEDVIA is a spearhead cluster that fosters health innovation by facilitating collaborations between biotech and medtech companies, hospitals, research institutes, and service providers in Flanders and Brussels, providing members with tailored services and funding. Our articles feature MEDVIA members and projects.

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