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February 08, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Is your urologist retiring? Nearly a third are in next few years

Knoxville start-up has a solution to help patients and overworked urologists address the challenges of care.

“Urologic care is severely overburdened and understaffed,” says Britton Garrett, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of I-O Urology, a Knoxville-based start-up. “Patients lack knowledge of the risks they are facing, and providers simply don’t have the time to explain how (urological problems that persist) impact a person’s health.”

If you have a urologist, as I have counted on for years, the challenge is only going to become more pronounced. Garrett and David Gilliam, another Co-Founder, cite two alarming statistics: nearly 30 percent of urologists, including mine, are expected to retire by 2025, and those who remain are already pressed to the limit, seeing as many as 60-70 patients in a day.

Garrett further says, “Unfortunately, due to antiquated tools, the diagnosis of lower urinary tract symptoms and the medications used to treat those symptoms” are managed by the physician asking the patient, “How are you doing?”

That’s where I-O Urology’s CarePath® solution comes into play. Under development since 2016, it is described as the first and only at home product to offer real-time, quantitative measurement via embedded cellular connection of uroflow and urine output. It offers advantages for both the physician and patient while also addressing the very serious issue of return visits to a urologist that sometimes is six months out schedule wise.

“The attrition rate in urology for conditions like an enlarged prostate is nearly 80 percent from the first to second visit” Garrett says. By offering an option that enables the urologist to monitor urine output daily from the patient’s home, CarePath® enhances patient engagement, improves compliance, and standardizes treatment pathways for lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

“It’s the first remote patient monitoring and digital patient navigation system for urologic care at home,” says Ryan Willemsen, Chief Operating Officer.

As described to us in a recent interview and a follow-up discussion, the process is simple and non-invasive. Once a day, the patient urinates into the CarePath® device where the flow rate, duration, and volumetric data are collected and stored in the cloud. Healthcare providers, urologists, and urogynecologists (for Overactive Bladder) can then analyze the data in real time to detect, track, and treat common lower urinary tract symptoms before issues escalate.

How serious is LUTS? I-O Urology says more than 58 million Americans suffer from LUTS such as overactive bladder and benign prostatic hypertrophy, and inefficient urine monitoring methods make many patients dissatisfied with their current treatment and non-compliant with treatment protocols.

The company holds 77 patents in seven countries for the CarePath® Class 2 device as defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. More than 45,000 engineering hours went into its development.

What are the benefits? Let’s start with the patient. CarePath allows for disease management through a digital platform that provides guidance and education via daily texts and occasional calls from a nurse navigator connecting the patient to the practice. This digital connection educates, engages, and empowers the patient leading to better outcomes and potentially fewer LUTS-related medication side effects which Garrett says, “Long term, have a lot of risks.”

For the urologist, it’s a tool to simplify disease management, an additional revenue stream, a care solution that is virtualized in the home, and something that can reduce staffing burdens while also increasing surgical procedure volume when warranted.

“Thus far, CarePath® has been used by over 200 patients,” Garrett says.

The company is currently raising a Series A round.

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