How Agartee Technology is working in the fight against COVID-19
Other than skeleton crews to keep essential services running, the 30+ entrepreneurial companies who are part of SFU VentureLabs are now working remotely. They are still working on cutting-edge technology solutions, meeting virtually with customers, communicating with their team members and investors, all the while supporting their loved ones and families at home. Like all of us, they are all determining how best to be responding, and even leading, in this global health situation.
We had the opportunity to “zoom” with Behzad Behroozhan, CEO and founder at Agartee Technology about how his team of clinicians, researchers, data scientists, and biomedical and software engineers are working together to improve the quality of life for people living with chronic diseases, and how their solutions are can be utilized right now in the fight against COVID-19.
VentureLabs (VL): Please give us a bit more background about Agartee.
Behzad: We have designed a real-time monitoring solution for automatic symptom monitoring, triage, coaching, and reporting using connected smart devices. We’ve developed our solution over several years, with a specific focus on chronic diseases, particularly respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD, as well as senior care. While we do sell directly to individuals and pharmaceutical companies, we primarily work with health care providers. We have relationships in place with the major lung centers in hospitals in the lower mainland of BC, Canada, Europe and Japan. We collaborate extensively with The Lung Centre in Vancouver and the Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital.
VL: So, could you walk us through how your solution works?
Behzad: Absolutely. Let’s work through one of our typical situations. Let’s say you have an older parent with mild dementia and severe asthma. You know she has difficulty remembering if she’s used her inhaler and taken her medications. You would plug in our simple plug & play hardware device (almost like a modem) and ensure she wears our activity tracker, our inhaler tracker (optional for those with respiratory conditions), and our connected thermometer. The solution can be setup in less than 5 minutes at home by the individual, and can then track the patient’s temperature, activity levels, sleep quality, shortness of breath status, oxygen level and heart rate. This data is collected automatically and analyzed for deviations from normal levels. The Agartee system sends a gentle reminder to the individual to increase her activity or use her inhaler if the system detects she hasn’t used it at prescribed times. Notifications are also sent to her care providers about temperature fluctuations, changes in breathing and sleeping patterns; and also sharing information with you and other loved ones who can work with her and her care providers. We seamlessly automate the data collection and notifications process.
VL: Tell us about the testing of your solution.
Behzad: We have years of experience monitoring at-risk individuals such as people who suffer from COPD, asthma and dementia. Our technology is in use in homes, hospitals, and care facilities across the globe. We developed the solution using data from hundreds of participants in usability studies, including a 200 COPD cohort usability study led by clinicians and scientists at St. Paul’s Hospital and Vancouver General Hospital. We found that 98% of participants (who were seniors with COPD) had positive feedback. Experts believe that health outcomes are better with higher adherence to a provider’s care instructions and medication. In our studies, with reliable and real-time information on hand, care teams were able to coach participants, resulting in participants becoming more active with a 63% higher level of adherence to their medication treatment plan.
VL: Can your solution play a role in the current COVID-19 situation?
Behzad: Yes. We can provide a real-time monitoring and early detection solution for critical COVID-19 symptoms for “at-risk” individuals. By monitoring at-risk patients remotely, our solution reduces in-person contact and reduced exposure for caregivers and early responders. This can enable health system resources to be directed towards patients who require the most urgent care.
It also brings peace of mind for family members who want to monitor their loved ones from their home. Basically, we believe we can help reduce the spread of infection by helping people stay home to monitor their symptoms, protect healthcare workers by reducing exposure to people possibly carrying the virus, and keep thousands of beds free for those who truly need care. Ultimately, it will help save lives and reduce the strain on our healthcare system.
Right now, we are offering our solution at cost for health care providers and individuals. We are in discussions with healthcare and government organizations in Canada, the US, France, and Japan. Recently, St. Joseph’s hospital in Seattle announced that they have started to monitor their patients remotely; we believe this is part of a movement forward for solutions like ours.
VL: What else can you share with us about this process?
Behzad: It’s also critical that meaningful data is collected from actual COVID-19 patients who are being monitored so we can train the AI models to not only learn more about this specific virus and its symptoms in the months to come, but also to be better prepared for possible future situations like this. We are in discussions with hospitals in Canada, Japan and Europe right now to partner with them on this crucial task.
VL: How is your team coping with this unprecedented situation?
Behzad: While most of our team is working remotely, we do have several team members working (8 feet apart of course) on production in the lab. We are using our own technology to monitor our parents here in Vancouver now that we cannot visit them. As well, locally, we are part of a digital health group of companies called HLTHI, which is the industry association that we have been working to get set up over the past few months. We connect regularly about how we can help and support each other and the larger community with this situation. Among our group, we have Alavida, Ayogo, and Avo Media, all working on meaningful solutions.
VL: What message would you like to leave our readers with?
Behzad: We need to get on top of this unprecedented situation and support our first responders, caregivers, and individuals at-risk in any way we can. We’re hoping our solution can help, but we also want to stress that everyone can help by doing their part and following the advice of our health professionals.
Visit Agartee.com for more information. If you work at a healthcare organization or know an individual that could benefit from this solution, connect with Behzad and his team.