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against AccuVein. Luminetx also markets an infrared vein illuminator, though its device is a larger, standing unit. The two companies settled in 2009. Goldman, who has a background in engineering and intellectual-property law, won’t reveal the details of the settlement, except to say that AccuVein has an “irrevocable license” to market the AV300.
With hospital budgets tight and the healthcare system facing increasing pressure to cut costs under health reform, that marketing task is only getting more challenging for AccuVein. The company’s biggest competitor isn’t another device, Goldman says, but rather the status quo—all that pricking to find the wayward vein. So AccuVein has collected return-on-investment figures from its existing clients and used them to develop a calculator that any facility can use to determine whether it’s worth it to them to buy the device.
Goldman argues that the status quo is the more expensive option. “When you miss a vein, bad things happen,” he says. “The costs escalate.” That’s because specialists sometimes have to be brought in to insert catheters into patients whose veins are hard to find. “The cost can be $500 to $1,200 per patient,” Goldman says. The AV300 has a pricetag of $4,500. So even if a catheter procedure only costs $300 and the AV300 prevents just one such procedure per week, the device will pay for itself in about four months, AccuVein contends in a case study on its website.
Goldman adds that there may be intangible benefits, as well. “If you bruise a patient trying to find a vein, the patient ends up dissatisfied,” he says. “Patient satisfaction is becoming an important measure in healthcare.”
In addition to selling to U.S. hospitals, AccuVein is now marketing its device in 80 countries. But Goldman says the overall market is still largely untapped. “The need for vascular illumination is everywhere,” he says. “It’s important to be able to get that needle in, whether you’re on the battlefield or in an ambulance or working in home healthcare.”
Having MVM and Bessemer on board as funding sources will be critical, Goldman says, because both companies have experience managing startups through periods of rapid growth. MVM has invested in a number of medical-device companies, including Vascular Pathways and Solx. Bessemer has also been a player in the space, and in 1999 it sold two of its medical device companies—Endonetics and TransVascular—to Medtronic. “Their focus and expertise in healthcare is critical to us,” Goldman says.
AccuVein will invest some of the new money in developing other applications for its technology, Goldman says. The company has built a strong patent portfolio, which is focused not just on making veins easier to see, but on other medical uses that are too early to reveal, he says. “A lot of it is around illumination,” he says. “We’re making the invisible visible.”