If there’s one thing we can all agree on is that there simply aren’t enough healthcare resources available to meet the ever-increasing demand in the United States. To help alleviate these issues, doctors, hospitals and health systems are increasingly turning towards new technologies – like wearables – that can make the delivery of care more efficient, more personalized, more effective and less costly.
The increasing demand for healthcare technologies, like wearables, was the impetus for focusing this year’s Washington Technology Showcase on the healthcare sector. One of the companies that will be participating in this year’s event – GoX Studio – is a pioneer in the use of wearables for healthcare.
We recently had an opportunity to sit down with Dr. Bruce Floersheim, one of the co-founders of the company, to talk about their solutions. During our discussion, we talked about the use of wearables in healthcare and other industries, the trends driving innovation in healthcare and the technologies he thinks will have the biggest impact on patient outcomes and the delivery of care.
Here is what Dr. Floersheim had to say:
Ryan Schradin (RS): Can you tell our readers a bit about GoX Studio and its solutions? To whom does the company sell its solutions?
Dr. Floersheim: At GoX Studio, accuracy wins. We discover technology that drives the next generation of wearable devices. Our technology has broad uses to improve the performance and health of industrial workers, recreational and professional athletes, the elderly, and even soldiers and rescue workers in the field.
GoX Studio was co-founded by Joe Hitt and Bruce Floersheim, two service-disabled Army officers who went on to teach engineering at the U.S. Military Academy, run robotic programs at DARPA and become recognized experts in the field of wearable robotics.
Currently GoX Studio is selling its solutions to Health, Safety and Environmental managers in industry seeking to reduce worker injury rates, programs in the Department of Defense seeking to better quantify and optimize soldier performance and insurance companies seeking to incentivize client companies to manage worker performance in physically demanding jobs in a way that will reduce worker compensation claims.
CGCS: How did the company come about?
Dr. Floersheim: Joe and I started talking about establishing a wearable sensing and technology company while I was standing up and running a research and development center at West Point that also supported some of Joe’s wearable technology DARPA programs. He started the very first fully-funded programs for the Department of Defense utilizing wearable technologies to sense, assess and improve soldier performance.
We both believed strongly in the promise of these technologies to improve the performance and quality of life for soldiers and civilians and had a front-row seat in seeing the initial technologies emerge.
CGCS: What technologies have paved the way for GoX Studio’s solutions?
Dr. Floersheim: Several technologies have been critical in enabling our solutions: open-source computing platforms with cloud storage capabilities have allowed us to quickly establish our software solution on third-party hardware and secure the data safely anywhere in the world.
Low-energy Bluetooth technology has enabled our hardware to communicate quickly and with very low power requirements across the person wearing our devices. Nanotechnologies have enabled development of inexpensive and very robust sensor technologies that can rival the accuracy of sensing platforms that cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Additionally, the importance of the acceptance by many people to wear and utilize these types of technologies should not be overlooked. That is a behavioral shift over the last 5-10 years that has been critical for supporting new and increased rates of adoption for technology solutions such as ours.
RS: What different industries can benefit from the technology and what are the use cases?
Dr. Floersheim: Many industries can benefit from our technologies and we are pursuing each in turn based on our product roadmap. A quick snapshot includes:
Manufacturing and construction industries: The GoX Ergo kit can monitor and track individuals and entire shifts or workers to assess lifting form, energy expenditure and fatigue. Fatigue is very important and is a leading indicator of likelihood in getting injured on the job or making a mistake.
Healthcare: The GoX Ergo kit can be utilized to monitor individual performance during rehabilitative therapy. It can also be utilized for older patients to assist in warning about increasing imbalance – leading to higher likelihood of falls – and problems with pressure points in the feet of diabetic patients – leading to increased likelihood in festering sores.
Recreation: Originally developed under contract with the U.S. Army to measure and assess soldiers while walking and running, this system can be used to provide feedback on efficiency for wearers conducting training programs esp. for middle and long-distance running. It can also be used to monitor lifting techniques for weight lifters.
RS: Why are wearables seeing traction in the health IT space? What benefits do they deliver that weren’t available before?
Dr. Floersheim: The rising costs of healthcare are a significant driver for wearable technologies in healthcare. Another driver is the desire to know what is happening to patients when they aren’t sitting in a hospital or lab setting, as that behavior can provide some key insight into the best interventions to get to a healthier end-state.
Two specific things that drive cost – and that can be mitigated by wearable solutions – are having specialists engaged with the patient, and the use of laboratory and clinical testing facilities. Ultimately, we can reduce the amount of time a specialist needs to be in actively engaged – and charging – while assessing the patient in a home or more natural setting instead of inside a lab.
The technologies provide feedback on-demand and assess the individual within the setting where they live/work, which is a much more accurate setting when contemplating any potential behavioral changes or interventions. These technologies also capture immense amounts of data that can be reviewed quickly by the specialist.
RS: How do you see the role of wearables in healthcare evolving and increasing in the future?
Dr. Floersheim: More and more of the healthcare requirements that currently require invasive techniques to capture biologic information (i.e. a needle stick to assess glucose levels in the blood), will be possible through non-invasive sensing technologies. Glucose monitoring is one of the current areas being worked on by multiple companies that should see widespread use very soon.
RS: Why are we seeing so much advancement in healthcare technology right now? What are the technologies that are seeing the widest and most rapid adoption?
Dr. Floersheim: We are seeing quick advancements because of the increasing costs of healthcare, the increasing demand on current healthcare systems, the increasing access to healthcare and the rapid improvements in enabling component technologies.
These various factors are converging to create an explosion of possibilities in the healthcare arena. Technologies that enable remote, on-demand capabilities are experiencing exponential growth today.
RS: Why are you planning to attend the WTS? What do you anticipate gaining from your participation in this event?
Dr. Floersheim: The WTS event seems tailor-made for companies like ours that have proven technologies, current sales and increasing interest with a need to garner capital for the next phase of expansion. We hope to meet like-minded investors and strategic partners, who can assist us in making our systems market leaders in this space.