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Medtech start-up Hemics sells first HandScan systems internationally

Eindhoven, The Netherlands, August 28, 2017, The HandScan, a Dutch medical technology innovation, will be used this month for the first time outside the Netherlands. Clinics in Germany and Belgium have purchased the innovative rheumatism scanner from Eindhoven start-up company Hemics. This marks an important step for Hemics towards its goal of making a difference internationally as well as nationally in the life of many patients who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Safe optical technology
The HandScan was introduced in 2015 to simplify the monitoring of the inflammation that occurs with RA. It is a Dutch invention, developed by start-up company Hemics B.V. The company stems from Philips Research in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, where this safe optical inflammation detection technology was originally conceived. HandScan is a new optical testing method that may take its place alongside the subjective squeeze test that many people find painful (DAS28 score).

Identifying joint inflammation
The relatively simple and quick use of the HandScan system enables more frequent monitoring of RA (‘tight control’). This is important because tight control produces better treatment outcomes for the patient. At the start of this summer the Utrecht University Medical Centre (UMCU) published results showing that the HandScan came closer to echography than the customary physical evaluation (squeeze test). Echography can reveal inflammations effectively, but is highly labour-intensive and for that reason is used less in clinical practice.

Petra van den Elsen, CEO of Hemics, says the good scientific research results contributed significantly to the successful launch of the HandScan in the Netherlands. “The HandScan is increasingly being used in the Netherlands both for research and for clinical practice and this is just the beginning. Dutch rheumatology is renowned internationally, so there is growing interest in the HandScan in other countries as well. The first sale of a new medical innovation in a country is often the most difficult one to make. We expect the initial use of the HandScan in Germany and Belgium to attract the interest of more rheumatologists in those countries. In addition to Germany and Belgium, we are holding talks with hospitals in other countries and we will soon expand further across Europe.”

HandScan innovation across the border
The HandScan is now going to be used in Germany in a major programme for early diagnosis. Prof. Andreas Schwarting (Head of Rheumatology Division, Mainz University Hospital, and Director of the Rhineland-Palatinate Rheumatology Centre, Bad Kreuznach), said: “I am pleased to announce that the Rheumatology Centre of Rhineland-Palatinate is the first hospital in Germany to use the HandScan. The HandScan will play an important role in our rheumatologic health care programme. Our programme focuses on early diagnosis and treatment of RA in an area of five million people.” In Belgium, ZNA (Antwerp) and CHU de Liège are the first two hospitals to start using the HandScan system this month.

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Note to editors
For more information about Hemics B.V.:
Dr. Petra van den Elsen, MD, MBA, CEO
T: +31 40 30 20 019
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

For more information about RA (in Dutch):

About tight control
Organisations representing physicians recommend treating rheumatoid arthritis according to the ‘treat to target’ method, with the aim of obtaining disease remission or, if that is unachievable, lower activity. This is accomplished by tight control of RA (i.e. frequent checks and if necessary adjustment of medication) in the initial years of the disease. This greatly reduces the progression of irreversible tissue damage later in the disease. However, performing tight control presents a challenge in clinical practice, because the extra consultations put pressure on the rheumatologist’s time. Optical imaging may enable large-scale use of tight control, even in busy rheumatism practices.

About HandScan
To date medical equipment has not been available for non-invasive optical imaging to support rheumatologists in assessing the joint inflammation that occurs with RA. The HandScan measures the blood flow in 22 hand and wrist joints with diffuse optical transmission in combination with a patented method for blood circulation modulation. A computer algorithm instantly translates all data into an optical image that is relatively easy for the physician to interpret. The optical technology is safe for the patient. The HandScan test – which takes not more than three minutes each time – is more patient-friendly, more objective and more cost-effective than conventional methods.

van Onna M, Ten Cate DF, Tsoi KL, et al. Assessment of disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis using optical spectral transmission measurements, a non-invasive imaging technique. Ann Rheum Dis 2016;75:511–8

J. S. Smolen et al., “EULAR recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis with synthetic and biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs: 2013 update,” Ann Rheum Dis, annrheumdis-2013-204573 (2013)

Besselink N, Meijde P van der, Marijnissen A, et al. FRI0664 Influence of joint pathology on optical spectral transmission imaging, assessing inflammation in hand and wrist joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients. Ann Rheum Dis 2017;76:741–741