The West Health Institute (@westhealth) has announced the formal spin off of Sense4Baby, which marks the first technology transfer deal to come out of the Institute’s newly formalized incubator.

“The West Health Institute exists to develop innovations that will lower the costs of health care,” said Dr. Rob Matthews, chief technology officer of West Health. “Sense4Baby has been designed to enable a new model of care that can potentially bring needed care to the expectant mother at a remote clinical setting, as opposed to requiring her to go through the frequent travel and expense of visiting a doctor at a central hospital.”

The Institute estimates the device has the potential to create $1.5 billion in annual savings across the US due to better birth outcomes, reduced equipment costs, more efficient use of hospital facilities and reduced direct costs to expectant mothers.

High risk pregnancies require substantially more monitoring and physician attention, including recommended weekly visits to a doctor’s office for a Non-Stress Test (NST) that monitors fetal heart rate and mother’s contraction activity. The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine estimates the total medical, educational, and lost productivity costs of preterm births in the US is at least $26 billion as of 2005.

The Institute has partnered with the Carlos Slim Health Institute to deploy Sense4Baby prototypes in a large scale pilot program in the Yucatan region to study the impact of this technology on substantially reducing the costs of providing care, as well as assess the effectiveness of the technology to reduce complications of high risk pregnancies.

“By bringing proprietary technologies together with an innovative interface, Sense4Baby can help advance a new cost-effective and cost-saving model of care,” said Barry Hudson, vice president of business development for Sense4Baby. “The Sense4Baby platform represents the potential to overcome traditional barriers to accessing quality care for high-risk expectant mothers, while lowering the cost of care.”

Sense4Baby is the first resident of the recently announced West Health Incubator, a 10,000 square foot facility at the Institute’s La Jolla, CA headquarters which provides infrastructure, strategic guidance, and access to an extensive network of key partners, allowing for the transfer to industry of research and technology developed at the Institute and elsewhere that have the potential to lower the costs of care.