For Ian Jackson and his team of largely University of Arizona graduates, it’s all about pressure. Relieving pressure, that is.
“We’re really trying to address patient suffering,” said Jackson, a 2019 biomedical engineering alum who started Jackson Medical Solutions the year he graduated.
“The biomedical engineering program at the UA is astronomically better than any other engineering program I’ve ever encountered,” said the young entrepreneur. “It’s in an entirely different galaxy.”
As a senior in 2018, Jackson was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle on University Boulevard in Tucson. Extensive injuries from the crash had doctors discussing amputation. But Jackson’s mentor, orthopedic surgeon and biomedical engineering professor Dr. Daniel Latt, helped reconstruct his foot instead.
Jackson’s experiences in the hospital, including suffering a bedsore on his heel, inspired him to start the company.
Bedsores, also called pressure ulcers, affect the skin and underlying tissue of areas of the body under continuous pressure, particularly in bed- and chair-bound patients.
“I was 22, and I was extremely healthy and extremely fit,” he said. “I should never have had problems.”
The company – for which Jackson has pulled many of his staff of five full-time employees and eight interns from the UA – creates sensing technologies for patient monitoring and treatment, starting with the OracleTM, an adjustable smart bed. The technology identifies vulnerable regions of the body, assigns risk and relieves pressure from bedsores.
“It’s the only system in the world that can actively know where a bedsore is and then compensate for it and treat it in real time,” said Jackson, who estimates the product will be on the market in a year or so.
Bedsores cost $11 billion a year in the United States and affect about 2.5 million patients, resulting in some 60,000 deaths, according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
A Push from Capstone Projects
To help develop product concepts, Jackson Medical sponsored two College of Engineering Interdisciplinary Capstone projects during the 2020-2021 academic year.
“I really believe in the capstone program,” said Jackson, whose own senior project was interrupted by the crash. “The outcomes speak for themselves.”
Simon Tecle, a member of Team 21014 and then-biomedical engineering student, helped put the OracleTM concept on the road to commercialization. Now he is a graduate and co-founder and chief regulations officer for Jackson Medical Solutions.
“Our main goal was to build a proof of concept to see if the bed did as it intended, and it was a success,” Tecle said.
The team won the Mensch Foundation Award for Best Use of Embedded Intelligence at Craig M. Berge Design Day 2021.
Another co-founder, Kirsten Bassett, graduated with a UA bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering in 2021 and a master’s in 2022 and is the company’s chief operating officer and chief financial officer.
“We have an endless list of features and functionality that we want to incorporate,” she said. “We’re just getting out the most basic version of it now.”
The company relocated to Phoenix in May 2022 and continues to develop software to predict a number of conditions and stop them before they occur.
“The technology today is not where it should be,” Jackson said. “We have supercomputers, or phones, in our pockets. The technology we use in health care has no active sensing, no engagement with the user, really. That leaves the potential for errors to occur and problems to arise.”