HEALTH 2.0 12TH ANNUAL FALL CONFERENCE | SANTA CLARA, CA | SEPT. 16-18, 2018
by GRACE MOEN – Writer for Health 2.0 covering news, trends, and reflecting on the industry.
Launch! is Health 2.0's competition to introduce brand new technologies to the market. Each year 10 contestents compete for the winning title at the Annual Fall Conference. This interview - conducted between Health 2.0's Grace Moen and MedWand's Samir Qamar - is part of an ongoing series in which we catch-up with past Launch! winners and learn what life has been like since they took our stage - from funding to product development, from inspiration to greatest opportunity for innovation - it's all on the table.
Twenty-fifteen was the year that gluten-sniffing sensors were invented, wearable baby monitors hit the market, and that MedWand won Health 2.0's Launch! competition. The growth in smartphone adoption paired with rising interest in telemedicine spawned a precise environment for a product like MedWand to hit the scene. Inspired by consulting work on the now defunct Google Helpouts, Samir says Google's foray into telemedicine was halted by the lack of supporting technology, specifically the ability to roll out an examination feature. At the core of the product, MedWand is a single device that hosts a suite of diagnostic tools and allows for collection of biometric data from the patient's home - no office visit necessary! Patients are free to use MedWand at their leisure, and while it doesn't require physician referral or prescription, it does have the power to encourage physician adoption of the technology, delivering data right into the patient's EMR. Since their win at Health 2.0, MedWand has raised millions in private investment from Maxim Ventures, Foxlink Ventures, and MIT Angels, and FDA clearance is expected by the end of 2018. Stay tuned for MedWand to hit the market very soon!
Health 2.0: Congratulations on winning Launch! back in 2015!
MedWand: Thank you! How time flies!
H20: What was it like to win Launch!?
MW: Our MedWand technology, capable of evaporating geographic boundaries when it comes to doctor visits, was bound to make a splash. I guess we did! Immediately after the conference, we got back to work building the company. And a few months after that we presented MedWand at CES in Las Vegas to great reception.
H20: Tell us about the genesis of MedWand? What was going on in the market that led to its development?
MW: I believe the telemedicine climate had become complacent in its current state and too comfortable with the general lack of physical exams, which is important in any clinical setting. As a doctor, that bothered me. In 2014 I was consulted by Google when it was experimenting with telemedicine in Google Helpouts, and again, physical exams were ignored because the technology didn't exist. In an effort to fill a major gap in telemedicine and hopefully draw attention to this major issue, I created the MedWand product later that year, assembled a team, and founded the company.
H20: What’s your competitive edge?
MW: For one, our core technology was developed by veterans in tech, people who came from companies like Masimo, Panasonic, Nokia, and Red Digital Cinema. And from a device standpoint, MedWand has more diagnostic tools housed in a single unit than any other such device.
H20: How does MedWand help improve outcomes and lower costs?
MW: MedWand allows medical providers to examine patients remotely over telemedicine platforms. Telemedicine is more cost-effective than in-person visits, and effective savings can thus be had. In the current, mainly non-exam state of telemedicine, there is room for error with diagnosis as providers cannot examine patients. MedWand helps improve outcomes by allowing proper medical examinations at a level never before experienced in mass-scale telemedicine.
H20: What or who are you inspired by lately?
MW: Steve Jobs in his early years comes to mind almost immediately. I had always admired him, but now after creating MedWand, the company and the product, I am learning how incredibly challenging it can be to bring a new technology to market. There are so many other factors, such as market reception, current events, the economy, startup dynamics, target industry trends, mass distribution, etc. that play a large part in the creation and adoption of new tech. Steve Jobs did it all and made it look easy. It's not easy.
H20: With data generation at an all time high, what is your blue-sky wish for the future of remote monitoring?
MW: Data collection is meaningless without relevant clinical interpretation. My wish would be for all medical establishments to one day assimilate remote monitoring data easily, integrate into routine clinical infrastructure, and apply the data in a way that directly impacts the day-to-day health of a patient. When that happens, it will become real.
H20: What does the future hold for MedWand?
MW: MedWand is headed for production later this year, and we are excited to bring it to market.
H20: Give us your tips for ultimate success with MedWand.
MW: Just one -- Don't be afraid to use new technology!