Ostique is an award-winning MedTech start-up committed to alleviating the challenges felt by those living with an ostomy; we create innovative and aesthetically empathetic ostomy care products designed to harmonise with the unique needs of every person living with a stoma.
Bowel surgery, which is sometimes required to treat bowel disease, cancer and trauma, diverts bowel waste through an artificial opening in the stomach – a stoma – into an ostomy bag, which patients must wear constantly. Despite there being over 2.5 million ostomates worldwide, to date, the ostomy market has experienced piecemeal innovation.
Problems include bag leakages, odours and skin reactions. This impacts patients’ physical and psychological well-being and 25% experience anxiety, depression and even suicidal inclinations.
How did you come up with the idea for Ostique?
My two younger brothers suffer from Crohn’s Disease, an incurable inflammatory bowel disease. Watching them battle this chronic disease, I became all too familiar with the significant challenges they, and many other people like them, face.
Keen to understand what having a stoma would mean, I began researching ostomy devices and it was clear to me that there was opportunity for improvement. A lot of the current state-of-the-art devices seem to focus almost solely on output collection, and their clinical aesthetic can exacerbate users’ psychological struggles.
There is undoubtedly a pervasive social stigma in our society, so I thought that there should be products available that alleviate this. There is no doubt that stoma surgery saves lives, yet for even the most body confident ostomates, current products are stigmatising, and the lack of choice is frustrating. This was a lightbulb moment for me, and the moment that Ostique was born.
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How has Ostique evolved during the pandemic?
The past year has been a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Initially, our clinical testing plans were thrown up in the air, as all non-essential clinical trials were shut down. However, we have been able to design new trials and ways of getting our prototype products out to users to test and have just completed a usability study which we adapted for users’ own homes.
Participating in virtual forums and webinars has also allowed us to engage with existing and new networks. One such event was the London Tech Week Elevating Founders competition which we went on to win in September 2020. This was an amazing opportunity for us and further validated what we are doing here at Ostique, despite the difficult landscape.
What can we hope to see from Ostique in the future?
Our main focus is on launching our products in the next year and getting them out to the people who need them. We have several product development activities and usability trials in the pipeline, and we can’t wait to debut our final product.
The feedback we have had so far from both the ostomy community, clinicians, and other key stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive. By improving product functionality, reducing stigma and promoting social inclusion, our innovation provides genuine socio-economic, mental health and clinical benefits to patients worldwide.