HDO Health Develops Life-Saving Tourniquet for First Responders and Military Situations

HDO Health, a medical device startup based in Columbus, OH, is all about saving lives.

“We make medical devices that help prevent people from bleeding to death,” said HDO Health CEO Bryan J. Stewart, a former USMC infantry officer, and 25-year healthcare executive. “Our first product is an innovative junctional tourniquet technology designed to stop bleeding more quickly and effectively in hard-to-reach and hard-to-treat junctional areas.”

A junctional tourniquet is designed to shut off the blood flow at the crease where the leg meets the hip, or the arm meets the armpit, in the moments following a traumatic injury, thereby providing time and an ability to transport the injured to a definitive healthcare site.

HDO Health’s Junctional Tourniquet (‘the Journiquet”), a class II medical device, innovates on current junctional tourniquet options. Its innovative design creates a tourniquet that stops bleeding faster. That’s because the Journiquet is easier for emergency responders and medical professionals to use and is more compact and portable at a more affordable price than existing junctional tourniquets.

HDO Health is developing and commercializing the Journiquet in partnership with The Ohio State University and the OSU Innovation Foundation (OSIF). Provisional and non-provisional patents have been filed and issued.

A Literal Lifesaver for Military Combat and First Responder Communities

The founding team at HDO Health understands what physicians, medics, and first responders need in white-hot trauma situations. They understand because they have done these jobs themselves.

USMC veteran Stewart is joined by J. Allen McElroy, M.D., a general and trauma surgeon, Tanya M. Nocera, PhD., an associate professor of practice and inventor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at OSU, and Nadi Graham, an active member of Ohio State Highway Patrol for more than twenty years. Both McElroy and Graham are SWAT team members, law enforcement medics, and tactical medicine trainers.

“We are working on the most affordable, compatible, and survivable junctional tourniquet to help prevent people from bleeding to death,” said CEO Bryan Stewart. The company’s mission statement says it all: To develop and bring to the world innovative, life-saving, cost-effective medical devices. The HDO acronym in the company name also speaks to its founding values: Heart Led. Data Driven. Outcome Focused.

“Our founding team, we all share the same mindset,” said Stewart. “We want to save as many lives as possible with this device. That is the legacy we want to leave.”

The Backyard Effect Connects Teams

HDO Health is an example of a phenomenon we call Ohio’s Backyard Effect–a connectedness that exists here in the Central Ohio entrepreneurial ecosystem.

“Allen and Nadi, who have been colleagues for more than a decade, were lamenting the current junctional tourniquet products,” Stewart said. “They came up with the initial design for the Journiquet over dinner and drinks. Allen had submitted the idea as part of an engineering capstone project that eventually intersected with Tanya during his surgical fellowship at OSU. Tanya and her students did the groundwork for the prototypes, and she led the efforts to secure an Innovation grant.”

At the time, Stewart, an OSU alum, had a conversation with the OSU’s Keenan Center for Entrepreneurship team. “I was just planning to be a mentor,” he said, “but they asked me if I had ever thought about being an entrepreneur.”

The Center sent Stewart a catalog of commercialization opportunities.

“I was an infantry officer in the Marines, and my entire post-military career has been in healthcare,” Stewart said. “There were lots of intriguing ideas across many segments of healthcare, but this technology seemed the best match, based on my experience, interests, and stage of the technology development.”

The HDO Health team bonded quickly. “We had similar ideas and are aligned on this life-saving technology. If we can prevent one person from bleeding to death–and we believe this product can do that–everything else, the personal and professional relationships, the royalties or equity, all of that is just icing on the cake.”