Last night we held the second annual Wearables in Healthcare Pilot Challenge! The event, which met at Google’s Cambridge headquarters from 5 to 9 pm, featured live demos and pitches from our 10 finalists.
We also had pleasure of hearing a keynote from Dr. Ned Sahin, founder of Brain Power, before the pitching kicked off. Setting the stage for the presenters, Sahin described how he uses Google Glass for patients with autism. Sahin and his colleagues have created software to help autistic kids learn key life skills by using a variety of visuals from comforting images to games that incentivize social engagement.
During the pitch-off itself, presenters had five minutes to explain their contest submission followed by two minutes of questioning by a team of six judges: Naomi Fried, PhD, VP of Medical Information, Innovation and External Partnerships at Biogen Idec; Rich Gliklich, MD, XIR at General Catalyst Partners; Natalie Schneider, MBA, VP of Consumer Experience at Anthem; David Ting, Chief Medical Information Officer at Massachusetts General Physicians Organization; Cris De Luca, Digital Innovation Leader at Johnson & Johnson; and Jeff Greenberg, MD, MBA, Medical Director at BWH Innovation Hub.
Each team had already won a prize as a finalist in their own category, but they gathered hoping to win a $3,000 grand prize, furnished by audience ticket sales.
First up was Pavlok, a controversial wearable device promising “the end of addiction.” The Pavlok team argued that using a device that administers small electric shocks can be combined with social support to form a successful variant on aversion therapy.
Team Onclass, an oncology analytics company, uses wearable technology to improve communication between surgeons and radiologists. The technology encourages quicker and more effective collaboration between the two, and could potentially improve surgical accuracy, reducing how much time a patient spends in the OR.
Memorandum, our youngest finalist team, proposed using mobile reminders and predictive analytics to track patient adherence to medications.
Next, surgical residents Allison Arensman and Courtney Hill presented the benefits of using the embr Wristify to keep surgeons cool in the OR. Millions of patients each year suffer from hypothermia on the operating table while surgeons sweat under multiple layers of clothing. This team argued that if surgeons used wearable wrist bands to cool body temperature, the OR could also be warmer for the patients.
Finalist Bill Younker came up with the idea for wearables that aid in concussion rehabilitation while he himself was recovering from his second concussion. His solution would use the MisFit Shine to help patients slowly add different levels of physical activity back into their lives, collecting data about how much movement and exercise patients were getting along the way.
Kicking off the second half of the pitch-off was Brian Caulfield, the director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at University College Dublin. Caulfield’s idea was also centered on helping patients recover; but instead of focusing on concussions, Caulfield’s wearable, known as “4G-PT,” is focused on orthopedic rehabilitation. 4G-PT provides real-time feedback on rehab exercises and activities in addition to making some of the exercises more game-like.
Alex Hwang, an investigator at the Schepens Eye Research Institution, presented the idea of using the Muse, a brain sensing headband, to measure Visually Induced Motion Sickness (VIMS). The Muse technology is a compact version of an electroencephalogram, which measures electrical signals in your brain, so Hwang believes that it could effectivly provide a measure for VIMS.
The next team of finalists formed at CAMTech’s Stop Ebola hackathon last December. Proxome measures the heart rate, body temperature and proximity of those who wear it. This is done using community open source software so that local communities trust the technology as well as making it easier for anyone to analyze the data and use it to prevent or slow down the spread of Ebola.
The penultimate presentation, Personalized ‘normal’ temperature, proposed using an iThermonitor axillary patch to collect body temperature data every four seconds and upload it to a cloud-based analytics platform. Oh, and the patch has a battery life of 120 days, so one patch can collect lots and lots of data. Mark Hoffman received many compliments from the judges and audience members on his idea.
Concluding the pitch-off was ELAINE, a device designed to help those with dementia. Basically, the technology involves recording messages and reminders which are then played back on a watch worn by the dementia patent. Messages can be recorded by family members or physicians, and can be sent to multiple people.
After 25 minutes of deliberations (and a fascinating panel on “The Future of Wearables in Medicine”), the judges reemerged with the results of the competition.
The winner of the Crowd Favorite Award was Memorandum, whose 60 second video on Medstro got the most votes online.
Although the judges were only instructed to choose one winner, they felt strongly about also nominating a Runner-Up. That award went to Bill Younker for his concussion recovery wearable, selected by the judges for its practicality and potential to significantly improve quality of life for those recovering from traumatic brain injuries.
Ultimately, the Grand Prize was awarded to Brian Caulfield for his 4G-PT, which assists with orthopedic rehabilitation. The judges again cited the project’s practicality as well as its ability to help people. They also noted that the device seems perfectly positioned in our struggle to negotiate payers and providers.
Although the judges found it difficult to pick winners, they agreed on one thing: each finalist has promising ideas that could potentially shape the future landscape of wearables in healthcare.
Stay tuned for photos and video from the event, coming next week!
Brendan Pease was MedTech Boston's first ever editorial and events intern. He is now a junior at Harvard University where he studies Molecular and Cellular Biology. He’s also the Co-Editor-in-Chief for the Harvard Science Review. Previously, he worked as a Market Intelligence intern at athenahealth and as a research assistant in the Goldberg Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital.
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