A shot in the arm for home-based care

Ot­tawa business hopes to chart the fu­ture of health tech­nol­ogy

Ottawa Business Journal - - FRONT PAGE - BY ADAM FEIBEL SPE­CIAL TO OBJ

NEW SOFT­WARE COULD HELP RE­DUCE PA­TIENT VIS­ITS TO HOS­PI­TALS FOR TREAT­MENT, RE­COV­ERY, FIRM SAYS

An Ot­tawa en­tre­pre­neur who has spent the last decade de­vel­op­ing health-care tech­nol­ogy is hop­ing to find the pre­scrip­tion for suc­cess in a prod­uct de­signed to “keep pa­tients out of the hos­pi­tal and in their homes.”

Mo­bileWell­be­ing was founded in 2009 by Ra­jiv Mu­ra­dia, who has worked on sev­eral startups over the last decade. His most re­cent suc­cess was with VaaSah, another home health-care soft­ware so­lu­tion that was ac­quired by IgeaCare Sys­tems in 2007.

Mr. Mu­ra­dia started Mo­bileWell­be­ing the month after he ex­ited Healthany­where, which was VaaSah’s re­branded form. The new company de­vel­ops tech­nol­ogy for phones, tablets and PCs that can be given to pa­tients after they are dis­charged from hos­pi­tal. Users then record vi­tal sign re­sults and an­swer dis­ease man­age­ment ques­tions to make sure they’re on the right track in their treat­ment or re­cov­ery.

A pa­tient with di­a­betes, for ex­am­ple, could rent a tablet with the soft­ware in­stalled to mon­i­tor their blood pres­sure lev­els us­ing a glu­come­ter app. The de­vice would then track the data on a cloud ser­vice and the pa­tient would only need to be seen by a doc­tor or per­sonal support worker if there’s an alert sta­tus.

“Both my par­ents are sick, so I see their strug­gles,” says Mr. Mu­ra­dia. “I very strongly be­lieve the tech­nol­ogy would re­ally help them and oth­ers like them to be more in­de­pen­dent in their homes.”

The prob­lem, he says, is the Cana­dian mar­ket isn’t very re­cep­tive to the tech­nol­ogy. The company has been at­tempt­ing to test the sys­tem in the United States, but its most promis­ing pi­lot projects ap­pear to be in Dubai, Nige­ria, Kenya, Malaysia, Sin­ga­pore and In­dia.

“Most of th­ese mar­kets have whole­pay­ment ar­range­ments. It’s not the gov­ern­ment that’s foot­ing the bill,” says Mr. Mu­ra­dia. “The mar­kets ac­tu­ally have the pa­tients pay­ing out of their own pock­ets, so the in­cen­tive is very high for the pa­tients to re­duce their vis­its and for the physi­cian to take on more pa­tients.”

Dr. An­drew Seely, an as­so­ciate sci­en­tist at the Ot­tawa Hos­pi­tal Re­search In­sti­tute and as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Ot­tawa with ex­pe­ri­ence study­ing and test­ing re­mote pa­tient care, is a fan of the new tech­nol­ogy.

He says to gain trac­tion, Mr. Mu­ra­dia’s prod­uct first and fore­most needs to ad­dress a true prob­lem and prove it of­fers a so­lu­tion. Dr. Seely says com­pa­nies such as Mo­bileWell­be­ing would have the best chance in mar­kets where a ded­i­cated group of physi­cians serve pa­tients at their homes, such as in as­sisted liv­ing sit­u­a­tions.

“I think it’s ex­cit­ing, en­cour­ag­ing and in­ter­est­ing tech­nol­ogy,” he says. “For it to get to the next level, a real study needs to be done that shows the value of this tech­nol­ogy.”

Mo­bileWell­be­ing com­pleted a six-month pi­lot with as­sisted daily liv­ing and chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease pa­tients at Arn­prior & Dis­trict Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal last year. Mr. Mu­ra­dia says he is look­ing for fi­nanc­ing for five more planned pi­lots over­seas.

Mo­bile mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems and wear­able sen­sors al­ready ex­ist in the mar­ket­place, but Mr. Mu­ra­dia says his company’s unique ap­proach in­volves re­wards: pa­tients who use the sys­tem would be able to col­lect points and ex­change them for free meds or med­i­cal de­vices at par­tic­i­pat­ing phar­ma­cies. The company has looked into part­ner­ships with Shop­pers Drug Mart and Katz Group in Canada, Wal­mart and Wal­greens in the United States, and other groups in Malaysia and Sin­ga­pore.

Dr. Seely says the in­cen­tive sys­tem could have real prom­ise in some of the company’s po­ten­tial mar­ket ar­eas such as Nige­ria, “where the dom­i­nant rule is bad com­pli­ance.”

Mo­bileWell­be­ing hopes to be on the mar­ket within the next 12 months. Down the road, the company hopes to even­tu­ally at­tract the at­ten­tion of a mo­bile ser­vice provider like Telus Health that may be look­ing to ac­quire and adopt the tech­nol­ogy.

Long be­fore then, how­ever, the company will have to find a way to com­mer­cial­ize the prod­uct, whether it’s on its home turf or over­seas. It’s a chal­lenge Mr. Mu­ra­dia is happy to embrace.

“I’m pas­sion­ate about health care,” he says. “That’s one of the rea­sons I’m still do­ing this.”

PHOTO BY COLE BURSTON

San­jiv Mu­ra­dia be­lieves his company, Mo­bileWell­be­ing, could help cut health-care costs with prod­ucts that mon­i­tor pa­tients at home.

PHOTO BY COLE BURSTON

Ra­jiv Mu­ra­dia says his prod­uct will help pa­tients mon­i­tor dis­eases at home.

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