In this health supplier segment, Vivek Kopparthi, co-founder and CEO of Neolight, discusses Skylife™ Phototherapy System, a newly FDA approved device for treating Hyperbilirubinemia in newborns.
Neal Howard: Welcome to this Health Suppliers Segment here on Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, glad that you could join us. I’m in conversation this afternoon with Mr. Vivek Kopparthi. He’s a co-founder and CEO of Neolight and he’s joining us on the program to discuss Skylife Phototherapy System, a newly FDA-approved device for treating a condition in newborns. Welcome to the program Vivek, how are you?
Vivek Kopparthi: Really great Neal, thank you for having me on the show.
Neal: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Vivek: Well I … came to the US about five years ago from … India. I’m an innovator, part of the company with a group of my friends who are all passionate about the newborn care market.
Neal: Now you’ve got a background in electrical engineering and also in IT. Is that what prompted you to start this this company Neolight and to also get into this newly FDA-approved device?
Vivek: That’s a good question. I think it’s because I see myself, I think I’m independent of those backgrounds, right. I’m a problem solver, my parents, both of them are entrepreneurs. I was raised to be and having entrepreneurial thinking … trying to solve big grand problems and trying to make the world a better place, right, so I have been trained to do that.
Neal: Now your lead product, the product that we’re going to talk about right now Skylife Phototherapy System.
Vivek: Sure. About the three years ago, we started off with the grand vision to solve the jaundice problem. Jaundice is a condition that occurs because of an excessive presence of a neurotoxin called Bilirubin in infants. Roughly about 84% of all newborns are jaundiced and a fraction of these newborns get to stay in a hospital and every single one of these babies that gets to stay in a hospital stays anywhere between a day or five days, right. So what we’ve developed is an empathy-driven innovation … it’s called Skylife. It’s a bed on which the baby would sleep on so instead of a traditional five foot tall giant bulky machine that throws light, what we did a simple sleep cleaning bed on which the baby sleeps on and Jaundice is being taken care off by producing light from the bottom.
Neal: So rather than the lights being on top, is that as you say that bulky apparatus, the lights are radiating from the bottom, from what the baby is lying on?
Vivek: Yes. The goal is the baby, the nurse does have a need in defenses, in access to the baby and it’s just lying there on the bed just as any bed, right. So it fits into every possible … incubator or closed setting that the baby sleeps on so just swap out that bed with this one, it’ll take care of jaundice while you take care of other conditions in the baby.
Neal: So once the the jaundice is addressed, is it easy to discover other things that may be wrong with a child? Or do you have to deal with the jaundice and hope that any other conditions just basically show themselves? Or does this does help to diagnose any other problems as opposed to the traditional, the old method, the Billy lite?
Vivek: So if you look at the differentiators, the top … differentiators that we have. The first one one and which we all feel very passionate about, is the approach that we take to solve jaundice, right. So if you take a traditional device, like I said they are five foot tall, giant, bulky, very difficult in use and in calibration, setting up … there’s so many things that go on with an existing device. Jaundice is a single reason for babies to come back to a hospital in the U.S. dehydration is a side effect of jaundice, is the second largest reason the babies to come back in the U.S. One of the common things that you can see with all these devices is the fact that they’re all designed with an ideology to solve the condition but none of them really care about the baby. None of them really care about that … micro ecosystem between the nurse, mom, the doctor and so our technologies the is we have care that is weaved into every single element of the design so that way we care, we empathize with the baby and the pain of the mothers is gone so we believe in the fact that … jaundice and does not have to stay in a neonatal incubator. The technology should not be a barrier to keep the baby away from the mother so our device is designed and in a way to operate both in a NICU, at hospital, at home, every possible environment for the baby, right. So that is the first and wow factor of the device. The second one which is pretty amazing is think of a traditional standard of care device, right … one of our devices packs the power of three devices … Take three of them, put them next to each other, radiate that light on the baby, exactly the same amount of light as what you’ll be getting from just one of our devices. So it just increases the efficacy, efficiency of treatment in the baby because jaundice, we believe should be the least of all conditions that someone has to be worried about. We want to make it seamless.
Neal: Now your device has been recently FDA approved, is that correct?
Vivek: Yes, we’ve been recently cleared for both at hospital and at home use.
Neal: What were some of the challenges that you had to overcome during trials and testing of these lights?
Vivek: Well you see the and this is a challenge, not just to us but every newborn care company. Designing a device for a baby is much different than designing a device for an adult, right. We spent roughly about 750 thousand dollars just on testing to make sure that the device does not harm a baby. We have to prove to the FDA that there’s no way or not the device is going to affect the highly reactive skin of the baby, right. So it’s a pretty rigorous process … we have to make sure that we have very high degree of confidence, the device is being used right now. There’s no adverse effects and also the fact that FDA approved, the past decade or so has been very empathetic to pediatric startups… as well.
Neal: So you did mention that your company is in fact a startup, do you have any big backers that are helping you with your research?
Vivek: Sure. So we started off about three years ago, the first of our backer for the company was a … Health who recently and has much capital … We have also been backed by … Health from Pheonix. Stanford is a clinical partner for us and … the clinical backbone …
Neal: Is the Skylife system available throughout the United States and around the world?
Vivek: It is available throughout the U.S. and all over the world. Our vision is to deliver impact and innovation, right so up the bar of innovation in the jaundice care market. So any hospital or clinical setting that is pro-innovation, pro-technology that believes in providing the best care for the babies and mothers should definitely check it out.
Neal: Well thank you for joining us on the program today, it’s been a pleasure and I’m hoping to talk with you in the future and congratulations on your startup and your continued success, okay?
Vivek: Thank you so much Neal, talk to you soon.
Neal: You’ve been listening the Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at hpr.fm and healthprofessionalradio.com.au