Houston innovators podcast episode 232

With FDA approval, Houston health tech company prepares nationwide deployment

Jessica Traver Ingram, CEO and co-founder of IntuiTap, joins the Houston Innovators Podcast to share her company's latest milestone. Photo courtesy of IntuiTap

Jessica Traver Ingram has been captivated by the intersection of physics and health care for most of her life, and that passion led her to contributing to the establishment of the Texas Medical Center's Biodesign Fellowship. After helping make the program a reality, Traver Ingram then participated in it as a fellow.

The program selects fellows and then lets them explore the TMC's member institutions to find ways to innovate within unmet clinical needs, and the inefficiency and challenges with placing epidurals and lumbar punctures caught Traver Ingram and her cohort's eye. The process relies completely on the health care practitioner's ability to feel the spine with their fingers to make the injection.

"We kept watching the inefficiencies of these procedures, and everyone was like, 'you're right, we don't really know why we do it this way,'" Traver Ingram says on the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's really cool to be outsiders watching and observing, because you just see things other people don't see — and that's in any industry."

With that, IntuiTap was born. Traver Ingram describes its tool, the VerTouch, as a "stud finder for the spine." After years of growing the company, she can also now call it FDA-approved.

"FDA clearance allows us to market the device in the United States, so we are entering the commercial launch stage of the company, which is really exciting," Traver Ingram says. "We plan to have these devices available in hospitals across the country within the year."

First up is what Traver Ingram calls a soft launch. The company is picking five institutions that want to be centers of excellence for the device and doing trial launches there before entering into a greater, nationwide rollout.

"It's just crazy that what started as just an idea on paper is now FDA approved and commercially ready and something that patients can see in hospitals this year," Traver Ingram says.

And the timing is important, she explains, adding that where the health care industry seems to be at as a whole is primed for innovation like IntuiTap.

"There's a lot of really exciting developments happening in health care right now," Traver Ingram says. "I feel like we're really at a tipping point for innovation and we're going to see some really big leaps in the next couple of years.

"One of the exciting trends I think that we're seeing is a shift away from blind procedures or procedures that are seen as an art requiring a significant amount of skills toward more science-based, safer, consistent, and repeatable procedures," she continues. "We fit really well into that category, so I'm glad that we're seeing that shift."

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