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Lucid Dives into Telemedicine to Target Esophageal Precancer

Lishan Aklog, MD, Lucid’s Chairman and CEO Lishan Aklog Photo.JPEG
Lucid Diagnostics has launched its EsoGuard Telemedicine Program in partnership with UpScriptHealth.

Two popular trends in healthcare could help stem the tide of esophageal cancer rates – the use of telemedicine and patient empowerment. One medtech company is employing the use of these trends to help detect esophageal precancer before it progresses.

Lucid Diagnostics, a majority-owned subsidiary of PAVmed launched the EsoGuard Telemedicine Program in partnership with UpScriptHealth, a direct-to-consumer telemedicine company. The move completes the foundation of Lucid’s overall multi-channel commercial strategy, which includes six test centers said Lishan Aklog, MD, Lucid’s Chairman and CEO.

Through the partnership with UpScriptHealth, in four of the cities where there are test centers, patients can now access a Lucid-branded web-based telemedicine platform to request video evaluation of their condition by an independent UpScriptHealth-managed telemedicine physician. If clinically indicated, the patient will be referred to a local Lucid Test Center or other clinical facility offering rapid, office-based testing to detect esophageal precancer using Lucid’s EsoGuard DNA Esophageal Test. The cities are Phoenix, Denver, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas.

“When a patient who suffers from chronic heartburn becomes aware of this, we need a place to send them,” Aklog told MD+DI. “You can’t just send them to our test center because this requires an independent physician to assess the patient, determine the risk factors, and say it’s clinically indicated. We want people who have the appropriate indications to be tested. The way to do that in 2021 and 2022 is telemedicine. COVID had a big impact on the dramatic expansions and use of telemedicine ...”

He added, “the tragedy of esophageal cancer is that no consumers, no individuals that have chronic heartburn, and very few primary care physicians are even aware that there is a connection between longstanding heartburn, and esophageal precancer and cancer. They are [unaware] that there are well-established guidelines about which patients are at risk and who should be tested to determine whether they have precancer whether they can be monitored or treated before it develops into the second most deadly cancer that we have.”

But the company’s marketing strategy can potentially change that and offers an element of patient empowerment, Aklog said.

The technology at the center of the strategy is the EsoGuard, a bisulfite-converted next-generation sequencing (NGS) DNA assay performed on surface esophageal cells collected with EsoCheck. Lucid’s EsoCheck is FDA 510(k) and CE Mark cleared noninvasive swallowable balloon capsule catheter device capable of sampling surface esophageal cells in a less than five-minute office procedure. It consists of a vitamin pill-sized rigid plastic capsule tethered to a thin silicone catheter from which a soft silicone balloon with textured ridges emerges to gently swab surface esophageal cells. 

EsoGuard, used with EsoCheck, was granted FDA Breakthrough Device designation and is the subject of two large, actively enrolling, international multicenter clinical trials to support FDA PMA approval. 

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