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Thought Leaders in Healthcare IT: Matt Johnson, CEO of EarlySense (Part 1)

Posted on Monday, Dec 9th 2019

This is an excellent conversation about early monitoring and intervention in healthcare.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start by introducing our audience to yourself as well as EarlySense.

Matt Johnson: I’m the CEO of EarlySense. EarlySense is a 14-year-old medical device company based in Tel Aviv, Israel and Boston, Massachusett. We make a contact-free, continuous patient monitor.

The problem that we’re solving is that about 20% of people during a hospital stay or other post-acute facility have an unplanned negative event. It’s typically tied to unidentified deterioration of the patient. You go in and have a procedure done.

Every couple of hours, the nurse or doctor comes in and checks on you. They observe things like your vital signs. They see you a couple of times an hour. That is occasionally enough to catch deterioration and occasionally, it’s not.

What we know is that patient deterioration is best predicted through simple and straightforward means like observing the patient’s respiratory rate and their heart rate. In a typical patient stay, you have two rounding times per shift. So that’s six times per day when your vital signs will be observed.

In the EarlySense world, we use this contact-free, continuous patient monitor which is in the mattress of the bed. It’s invisible to the patient. We take measurements of heart function and lung function two times per second as opposed to two times per shift. That means we can give nurses and doctors several hours or even several days head start on patient deterioration.

If you can get ahead of things, you can prevent it. We typically see things like sepsis go down by 64%, and code blue events go down by as much as 84%. By observing and aggregating this basic vital sign data and doing it at a very high-fidelity and really rapid rate, we’re able to provide these new insights to health care providers.

All of us share the same goal which is to eliminate these unplanned negative events so that patients can get back to their lives and enjoy the full benefits of their treatment. I’ve spent just under 20 years at the intersection of healthcare and IT. About 75% of the time as an operator or leader of businesses like EarlySense, and the other 25% of the time on the buy side in a private equity firm managing a healthcare portfolio.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s double-click down a little bit and try to understand some use cases where your monitoring and early detection has enabled some action. Can you give me some use cases?

Matt Johnson: I’ll tell you a story about a patient case that happened in upstate New York just a few weeks ago. We have a partner in the United States called Hillrom which is a hospital bed maker and a connected patient care company.

One of our sensors is fully integrated into their beds. A patient in a hospital bed had back surgery and was in a private room. This was a woman in her 50’s. Dinner included mashed potatoes. Sadly, this woman started to choke and was unable to reach her nurse call button.

By virtue of being in a smart bed, the sensors in the bed started to pick up this respiratory distress. Her labored breathing was observed as respiratory distress. The nurses who were in charge were alerted. They rushed in and were able to save her life. That’s a really new anecdote, but it’s a really interesting one.

A lot of times, we think about early detection of deterioration. The saves are kind of boring. If we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing, our early detection should mean that before things ever get exciting, we’re intervening. This case was quite the opposite. That’s a really cool acute care use case. It all centers around the sensors being able to detect the respiratory depression well in advance.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Thought Leaders in Healthcare IT: Matt Johnson, CEO of EarlySense
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