BioIntelliSense developed a wearable device, which provides continuous monitoring of vital signs
Steven Loeb speaks with Dr. Jim Mault, founder and CEO of BioIntelliSense, a company that has developed the BioButton wearable device, which provides continuous physiological monitoring of vital signs.
Our goal is to understand tech breakthroughs radically changing healthcare: the way we screen, diagnose and treat conditions and measure outcomes. And whether tech is helping or hurting our well-being physically and mentally.
Highlights from the interview:
- Mault always knew he wanted to be a heart surgeon from a young age but he’s always been a gadget geek and very tech obsessed, so he ended up a parallel business career with his medical career, and started to build medical devices and file patents and then build companies. Living in both worlds is a nice advantage because it allows him to see things from the bedside clinical perspective and understand the physiology and then, on the other side, be able to have an appreciation for the technology and the business model and building an enterprise.
- The company's current thesis started 25 years ago when Mault was doing heart and lung transplants and routine major cardiac surgery: he would send patients home from the hospital to place as far as North Dakota and South Dakota and Wyoming where it's hard to expect the family to keep an eye on them and know what to watch for. So, the notion of remote patient monitoring really became a central concern and then a business thesis.
- Clinicians and doctors tend to have a lot of great ideas, but they often don't understand there needs to be a business in order for that idea to have a real future. They don't appreciate the fact that somebody has to pay for this and a lot of the things that go into making something a commercial success are rarely understood and appreciated by pure clinicians. Conversely, many in the medical industry have no understanding of the clinical environment. The only formula for success is deep collaboration. If you're on the clinical side with a great idea, you need to find a business partner, and vice versa. Businesses have definitely learned over the years to start from the beginning, with the clinical domain expertise guiding the product development.
- The starting point for BioIntelliSense is evolving from a consumer wearable to creating a medical grade wearable. Consumer wearables are wonderful for sports and fitness and wellness but when it comes to sick people, you have a much different burden of responsibility: this device could be used for making life and death decisions. Medical grade means extremely high reliability because clinicians are going to count on that information to hopefully take better care of you, so it better be really, really accurate, on par with the data that they’re already depending on in the hospital, because now the data is going to be coming from someplace where they can't actually see the patient and put my hands on them to verify that the data is accurate.
- We're facing an unprecedented shortage of healthcare workers, so there's not enough nurses to be able to even monitor patients properly in the first place and, even if you could find a nurse, the cost of labor is skyrocketing. There's no end in sight for this crisis, we've got an aging population from the baby boomers that need more and more care and we now have a workforce that's, frankly, burned out from COVID. Bedside care is a very stressful environment, in many ways, because we're not able to have enough data on these patients; once somebody's out of the intensive care unit, you're paying nurses to walk around once every six hours to collect a smattering of information. And so, patients start developing problems, without anyone realizing it until it becomes a bad situation. BioIntelliSense devices are actually being applied now at the time of hospital admission to actually automate those vital sign measurements and actually generate all of this continuous data. There's a big difference between a snapshot once every six hours, versus this continuous stream of data which now goes into an analytics engine, and then watches the data on behalf of the nurses and doctors.
- Artificial intelligence is a word that everybody throws around quite liberally but Mault thinks it's doing a disservice, especially in healthcare, because there's nothing artificial about what the company is doing. AI has been flying most of our planes for almost three decades right now when they turn on the autopilot system, but we just call it the autopilot system, we don't say “AI.” So in healthcare, we should talk a little less and use that vernacular a little bit less because it scares patients who don't want a robot taking care of them, they don't want something artificial, they want their doctor and nurse taking care of them. These are just tools that help doctors and nurses take better care of their patients but let's talk about clinical intelligence and not artificial intelligence.
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