06 December

Start-up in de kijker: Oncomfort

Start-up in de kijker Virtual Reality Hypnose

Fighting pain without heavy medication. Cutting without bringing a patient under full anesthesia. It is possible, that proves Oncomfort, by using virtual reality and psychological techniques. In October this year they have finalized a financing round of 1.65M€ to reinforce market expansion. Meet here our start-up in the spotlight.

Name of your start-up

Oncomfort 
www.oncomfort.com

Name of the founder

Diane Jooris
 

BETTER CLINICAL CARE THROUGH VIRTUAL REALITY

When did you start?

04/2017

Wat motivated you to start your own business?

Diane’s sister has been diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago. Diane decided to make a 180 degrees change in her career and became a mental health professional specialized in acute pain and anxiety management for cancer patients. She was performing clinical hypnosis in the operating room, to avoid sedation to cancer patients of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, USA. She was impressed by the amazing results of this technique for patients and she wanted to make this non-pharmacological intervention more accessible to as many patients as possible by automatizing it through Virtual Reality VR. She piloted this solution with chronic pain patients suffering from addiction. Based on the results of using VR + Clinical hypnosis, she decided to “make the big jump” and put all her energy in this project. ON(cology)COMFORT was born. Moving back to Belgium, Oncomfort expanded its use from oncology to a wide area of anxiety and pain management as well as full digital sedation.

The "elevator pitch" of your start-up: Describe in a few sentences the activity of your start-up.

Oncomfort’s Sedakit reduces patient’s anxiety and pain in a non-pharmacological digital way. Care professionals experience an easier and uninterrupted workflow during therapy or intervention with a significantly better outcome for the patient (higher comfort, higher satisfaction).
Oncomfort offers non-pharmacological digital sedation by combining, in its CE-approved medical device, evidence-based clinical hypnosis as well as other psychological techniques and virtual reality.
Oncomforts’ innovation brings digital sedation into standardized practice that is easy to use by care professionals with pediatric and adult patients using the Oncomfort Sedakit with very limited training.
Patients consistently confirm that Oncomfort’s digital sedation practically eliminates their traumatic experience around medical interventions.  Doctors and nurses experience enormous simplification of patient’s preparation and handling during and after medical interventions.  This leads to significant gain of time, an earlier discharge and, most importantly, a positive patient and caregivers experience.

How dit the idea grow for the solution?

The idea of the Oncomfort solution and the Sedakit for Digital Sedation came through clinical hypnosis.  Diane was helping patients not to be asleep during the operation. It was not really easy to have trained, available and knowledgeable staff of the techniques. Often, there is only one hypnotherapist by hospital, or a nurse, anesthetist or a radiologist trained in hypnosis.  Hence the desire to find a solution that would allow to generalize clinical hypnosis and make it accessible to a maximum of patients with significantly less time-consumption for the personal health. "I wanted to find a system to be able to deliver clinical hypnosis sessions in an automated way, very immersive for the patient, but also multilingual. « This is how the Oncomfort Sedakit was designed, which consists mainly of the Sedakit VR glasses, the Sedakit audio headset and the Sedakit smartphone. "We have developed software as a medical device, with modules that fit to specific medical indication, the type of environment, duration and language of the patient. "

What are the biggest challenges that you, as an entrepreneur, have experienced when starting up your business?​

When you launch your first company, you have NO idea of what is ahead of you. The needed skillset is really extensive, and so are the different disciplines that you have to cover: legal, regulatory, financial, clinical, commercial….. You do not need to be able to do it by yourself, but you have to surround yourself with people who have the skills that you don’t have… And you need to delegate.
The second major challenge was finding the right market model and prioritization. You have a mountain to climb… But what is the right first step? Which is the right path? Taking distance and being able to see the big picture and decide not to work at the same time on everything we had in mind has been a big challenge.
Thirdly… we created the company initialy in the US in 2015. Moving a company from the US to Belgium is a huge challenge. If you are an entrepreneur, our advice is: try to avoid this for sure!

At what stage is your start-up now and what will be on the program in the near future?

Oncomfort successfully finalized a financing round of 1.65 M€ to reinforce the company’s market expansion in digital therapeutics (DTx). Oncomfort initiates this next phase of its growth with the appointment of Mario Huyghe as CEO.

Diane Jooris, co-founder and former CEO of Oncomfort: “Both steps form key milestones in the existence of Oncomfort. The appointment of Mario Huyghe as CEO brings significant leadership experience in medical and digital health business into Oncomfort, which will accelerate the professionalization of Oncomfort as a medical device company and its expansion in Europe and beyond

The new Oncomfort organizational structure, in which Diane becomes Chief Scientific Officer, strengthens the focus on evidence-based innovation. This will drive Oncomfort’s unique position in digital therapeutic solutions into standard clinical and health practice across the world.

What are your long-term ambitions and the most important challenges to realize these ambitions?

Scaling up to become the reference standard for digital sedation.  We want our Sedakit to become standard practise available to all patients in all languages, initialy in our western markets but also for patients who live in countries where they have no access to medication/ sedation systems. Our plan is to extend our library of products to cover as many medical needs as possible, and make it accessible in a large number of languages.

What advice would you like to give to entrepreneurs-in-game?

  • Surround yourself with people who have startup experience, this will save you so much time!

  • Have a co-founder! Creating a company is tough… Working in binome really helps

  • Choose your battles. Do not work on all your ideas, Keep some of them in a drawer for later. Start with one good project and become a real specialist.

  • Do not forget to have fun! ;-0

In what way does BHIC provide you with added value in realizing your ambitions?

BHIC is a highly dynamic Ecosystem with a large network of specialists in both medical devices and start-ups. When trying to bring something very new and specific to the market, BHIC can put us in touch with people with very specific skills..

Do you still have specific needs where the BHIC team can help you to support your organisation?

Helping to expand into international markets and access to technology pipelines in our fields esp. VR, AR, XR and cloud computing for analytics.

THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE IN THE BEAUTY OF THEIR DREAMS.

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT