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IQE: Our mission to positively transform the global flexible endoscopy market

19th October 2021

We’ve been busy these past few years developing our single use endoscopy technology platform that we hope will positively transform the global flexible endoscopy market. In the US alone, there are 75 million endoscopy procedures performed every year (Link) and this number is expected to grow globally, which means there is huge demand for a solution that can balance efficient operations and patient satisfaction.

This is why we feel it’s time we shared more about who we are and what we’re creating, that will help acute and non-acute service providers offer a better endoscopy service to their patients.

It all started in 2015…

IQ Endoscopes (which stands for Innovation and Quality) was founded by Dr Patrick Ward-Booth back in 2015. After 40 years of experience in the endoscopy field, Patrick realised the huge potential of single use endoscopes on the effective provision of a global service. A chance meeting in 2017 with Andrew Miller, a materials expert in the automotive industry, started them on the path to designing and developing a clinician-friendly single use endoscope. Using a novel engineering approach to design, an early-stage prototype was quickly developed demonstrating promising results and receiving great feedback from clinicians. Since then, the team has grown and is working hard to get our product ready for market.

The current flexible endoscopy market

Global flexible endoscopy procedures are expected to grow to 130 million in 2026 with GI endoscopy representing over 70% of the total global volume. The immense growth of this industry can be attributed to 3 factors:

  • Increased early screening programmes
  • Increased life expectancy/ageing population
  • Advancement of therapeutic endoscopy

The global volume of flexible endoscopies is currently being performed across acute and non-acute settings. The majority are performed in hospital endoscopy units where there is easier access to a reprocessing suite for the decontamination of current reusable endoscopes.

Due to growing hospital waiting lists, made worse by the backlog of screenings caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, health care systems across the world are looking at mechanisms to deploy flexible endoscopy services into community settings. But how to decontaminate equipment in these environments?

Building a solution

Single use endoscopes offer a solution to the inefficiencies currently experienced when using reusable endoscopes. Reusable technologies require rigorous reprocessing after every use and reprocessing failures are responsible for some of the biggest threats to the industry for 3 main reasons:

  • Risk of cross-contamination
  • Cost of cleaning equipment – approx. $114.07-£280.71 per scope (Link)
  • Waiting list and capacity issues – loss of operational capacity whilst the scope is being cleaned

By incorporating a strong automotive approach to materials and manufacturing, we are developing a single use endoscopy platform that will match current reusable technology in ergonomics and physical functionality. Our single use endoscopes will offer sophisticated ergonomic handling and image quality whilst remaining affordable. Our strong intellectual property is critical for clinical acceptance and our aim to create an endoscope that is comfortable for clinicians and patients alike.

A focus on sustainability from day one

There are concerns regarding the environmental-friendliness of single use endoscopes, and that is why sustainability has remained at the forefront of our processes. There are, however, some important environmental benefits attained by using single use endoscopes rather than reusable. The elimination of a reprocessing step for a reusable endoscope means:

  • Reduction in water consumption
  • Elimination of hazardous cleaning chemicals
  • No water contamination from chemicals being disposed directly into the mains sewerage

It is important to us that we develop a product that will not have any negative impact on the environment, and we will continue to provide updates on our progress.

If you are interested in our work and would like to learn more about investment opportunities with us, please email info@iqendoscopes.co.uk