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EnsoData finds better way to monitor sleep studies
12/18/2017

Fast, accurate, hands-off data scoring is what EnsoData brings to sleep studies -- literally while many in the medical community sleep.

The Madison-based healthcare IT company has made it possible to assess data quickly with the help of artificial intelligence. CEO Chris Fernandez crafted the company’s technology while he pursued his undergraduate degree at UW-Madison. The company’s management team was later bolstered through EnsoData co-founders Sam Rusk and Nick Glattard.

Still in its infancy, 2-year old EnsoData has already created EnsoSleep, which is software used to automatically score sleep studies. The company was profiled as part of an ongoing series from UW-Madison students.

EnsoSleep assesses conditions such as sleep apnea or respiratory-related sleep problems and stores the results to be reviewed by physicians. In a single night the average sleep clinic can monitor 20 patients, each producing eight hours of data from up to 20 sensors, yielding an incredible amount of data.

Without EnsoSleep, clinic employees must manually review these records. Number crunching aside, the problem is simple: There is too much data to review and not enough people to review it. EnsoData’s software greatly reduces human input and increases diagnostic efficiency.

Fernandez reflects on the findings after testing EnsoSleep at sleep clinics in California, Texas, Minnesota, and Florida.

“Instead of 160 hours of unscored sleep data, all the data has been analyzed and integrated,” Fernandez said. “We’re looking to deliver time savings to clinicians, by performing really fast, really accurate scoring.”

In this field, time saving can be crucial. According to the Center for Disease Control, up to 70 million people are living with a sleep disorder. This pool includes high-risk conditions like sleep apnea, which can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and stroke. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, some 90 percent of adults with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed. EnsoSleep could slash this percentage by closing the time gap between evaluation and diagnosis.

The software has been thoroughly checked and analyzed by sleep technologists, who found that EnsoSleep was able to accurately recognize sleep stages, apnea and physical movements.

“Our software agreed with the experts 91 percent of the time on sleep stages, which is the most difficult aspect to score because it’s based on a combination of brain waves, eye movements and chin movement,” Fernandez said.

In April 2017, EnsoData was approved by the Food and Drug Administration, a major milestone for the budding company. Clearance allows EnsoData to sell and distribute software across the United States.

However, the FDA is not the first to be won over by EnsoData.

“Feedback, so far, has been really positive. Our software may be the first that fully automates the whole workflow,” Fernandez said.

The company has pulled in $562,000 from investors so far. Of that, $550,000 was from a funding round led by HealthX Ventures of Madison, while $12,000 came from Y Combinator, an accelerator program in California. Fernandez presented to potential investors during the Tech Council Investor Networks’ track of the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

The EnsoData team plans on applying the technology to other medical procedures such as brain wave monitoring or even home-monitoring congestive heart failure patients who are often housebound.

“Our vision and our goal is to build a big company that will make a big and very lasting impact on health care,” Fernandez said. “If we are successful, we’ll have more accurate diagnoses and more efficient clinical operations.”

--By Gilliane Davison
Davison is a senior studying Life Sciences Communication and Environmental Science at the UW-Madison.

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