A note on rethinking heart health
The challenge of heart health is multifaceted – at the personal levels it is often lifestyle and sometimes hereditary (a sedentary first world lifestyle feeding an obesity epidemic accounting for an ever-increasing portion of total health costs). From a health perspective, we pick up on the problem too late – only providing care when we break. There are missed opportunities for much earlier intervention if we were only more aware of our heart health more dynamically. And when we are symptomatic we have inefficient ways of diagnosing – anxiety continues to grow in ever longer waiting lists.
From a health provider’s perspective, the problem could be seen as a sorting problem. The wrong cars continue to park in the hospital parking lots – locking up significant investments in infrastructure and talent in reassuring the anxious, worried and symptomatic. If only the right patients in need of addressing an underlying condition were sent to those hospitals at the right time, if the symptomatic and undiagnosed could take personal charge and control and immediately begin the process of diagnosis rather than waiting in long referral cues, if an increasingly heart health aware population began to make small corrections in lifestyle, then the very same hospitals and cardiologists could spend their time saving more lives, and fewer folks would be in need of their intervention.
To repeat, if we could simply screen those with an underlying condition faster, alleviate the anxiety of those symptomatic with rapid diagnostic and continuous monitoring services without going to the hospital, and we used the limited time slots of Cardiologists each day seeing patients that needed seeing we would save more lives more rapidly with no fundamental increase in investment.
Metronome is a project about addressing this very challenge. It is an alternative approach to providing heart health. It is about increasing awareness, wellness and active prevention, and could play a significant role in lifestyle and disease management.
The vision of metronome is not simply grounded in a device, but in a service. We are looking to combine a wearable which, unlike Google’s Verily and Apple’s iWatch, focuses on 24.7 continuous data, connected to a virtual clinic where the foot soldiers are highly trained cardiac nurses with support from cardiac technicians and their cardiologist peers. Additionally to the more efficient and cost effective individual patient care delivery, the service will accumulate (with patient consent) very large monitoring data sets that will be used to extract new patterns and correlations with AI/ML algorithms. Such patterns and correlations will help further improve the individual patient care delivery in a virtuous cycle.
We believe there is a great opportunity for innovation in the health frontiers when you combine industrial design, user experience, data analytics, AI/ML, health professionals (such as cardiac nurses and cardiologists) with good intentions and always at the heart of it– the patient.
About two years ago I met a cardiologist who got me enthused about the heart and his dream was simple.
Listening to Robin (or Dr Van Lingen as his patients continue to know him) I came to a quick realisation that doing things the way we have always done is just not going to work – we are an increasingly aging population where retiring baby-boomers are the fastest growing demographic – our tax base is retiring – people are living longer –and we have got this burgeoning cardiovascular burden in our respective societies as a result of doing things the way we have always done them. We have to think differently – not because it is clever – or we are trying to be disruptive – but simply put, because we have no choice.
The story of metronome is rather simple – a story of doing things differently through patient empowerment and awareness of their heart health.
Robin said if he could spend more of his time saving lives, and less of his time reassuring the symptomatic and undiagnosed he would clear the increasing back logs of folks on the waiting lists.
So metronome is very much grounded in Robin’s experience as a cardiologist and the subsequent medical advisory panel that we formed of his peers. Importantly we have been talking to patients, diagnosed and undiagnosed but symptomatic, as well as increasingly health conscious consumers.
We want to empower patients by using technology to unbox the talent from inside hospital walls and operating hours to where-ever the patient is – whenever they need it – putting the patient truly in control of their heart health by making them aware of their heart health.
So metronome isn’t so much a wearable, or an app, or virtual clinic or AI/ML algorithm … it’s what happens when you combine all these.
The total amount of data and knowledge in healthcare will be doubling every 73 days. With metronome it may just double a little faster! Each metronome customer will generate up to 2m data points simply from the wearable – the app and virtual clinic all adding additional data as well as tapping into Google Fit Data and Apple Health Kit, ambient and other data sources including genetics to changing market conditions to truly enrich the context of the medical data further. We will get to over a billion data points a day with simply the first 500 metronome customers each day.
And our ambition is to encourage our customers today to avoid becoming patients tomorrow and open the door to the preventive medicine era that is coming.
Innovations are going to come at the borders of disciplines. With metronome we are going to see what happens when cardiologists, engineers, data scientists, coders and innovators work together to bring new things to the table. We are hugely encouraged by intellectual diversity and curiosity that such groups generate and how they can bring new disruptive thinking into the clinical arena. We are searching for a strategic health partner that shares that culture of patient centred multi-disciplinary innovation.