Interview: Dr. Henrik Wolff from B. Braun Avitum
The team at Boca Health Care in the presentation of their product to the patient day of B.Braun AG
The B. Braun Melsungen AG is one of the largest German pharmaceutical and medical supplies companies. The family company based in North Hesse has its roots in a pharmacy. Since 1839, six generations have developed the company into a global group that is represented in 64 countries on all continents and approx. 64,000 employees. The company, which names “innovation” as one of the most important driving forces, today generates annual sales of almost € 7 billion. In contrast, the Accelerator program, which is intended to promote cooperation with external startups and was founded in 2017, is relatively young. BOCAhealthcare was one of the first companies to be included in this program. We spoke to Dr. Henrik Wolff, Head of New Technologies Avitum, on collaboration within the Accelerator program.
Dr. Henrik Wolff, thank you very much for taking the time for the interview. Could you first briefly explain your role at B.Braun to the readers?
Very much, I am mainly responsible for the innovation in research at B. Braun Avitum and also for the marketing of our dialysis machines.
We would like to know from you which, from your personal point of view, the most important unmet medical needs that patients, doctors and nurses in the field of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and hemodialysis face every day?
Liquid management is one of the most important topics in dialysis. Between two consecutive dialysis sessions, the patient accumulates two to four liters of fluid in the body. This additional fluid must be removed within a dialysis treatment, which typically lasts four hours.
This means that the patient has to deal with two strains: firstly, the amount of additional fluid that is accumulated during dialysis treatments, and secondly, the short interval in which the additional volume is removed again. The challenge is to identify the target amount of fluid to be removed during treatment while preventing intradialytic hypotension.
You were the mentor of the BOCAhealth team during the B.Braun Accelerator Program, what was this program about and what is your role?
The focus of the program is on innovative solutions and products in the field of outpatient and home care as well as in other business areas of the entire B. Braun group, taking into account the entire patient path. My personal task was to coach the start-up that was selected for the area of chronic kidney disease, i.e. for BOCAhealth.
How do you rate our team? What did you like especially? And which aspects of the BOCAhealth system do you consider crucial so that it can become successful on the market?
The team has all the technical skills and extensive clinical expertise to develop a bioimpedance device that supports patient fluid management. The special feature of BOCAhealth’s approach is that it is a miniaturized version of an already existing and proven technology. The user interface is simplified so that the patients themselves can easily understand the information provided by the system.
What do you think of the BOCAhealth product, how can it be useful for the management of hemodialysis patients?
BOCAhealth can assist patients who have difficulty adhering to the prescribed fluid intake. It can be used as part of hemodialysis to support medical decisions, e.g. B. at what time the body fluids should be removed.
And finally, the question of why a large corporation, on the scale of a B. Braun company, should support interesting start-ups?
Cooperation and partnership models are a very efficient way to support the speed of start-ups, which is ultimately beneficial for both parties.
Dr. Henrik Wolff, thank you again for the interview.