Nearly a year after stepping down as CEO of Practice Fusion, Ryan Howard has announced his new venture, started with a team of other former Practice Fusion colleagues. The company is called iBeat, and its first product will be a wearable personal emergency response system (PERS) device aimed at the 50 to 70-year-old market.
“It’s a clean-looking smartwatch. It’s really clean, really stylish, we’re really focused on that,” Howard told MobiHealthNews. “What it’s doing is it’s constantly monitoring your heart. If you drop below a certain threshold or if you have a cardiac arrest in particular, we detect that in realtime.”
The device monitors the user’s heart rate and activity, so in addition to providing an alert in an emergency it can send regular updates to emergency contacts on the wearer’s health.
“If you have cardiac arrest, if your heart stops, it engages you in realtime,” Howard said. “It’s going to ask you ‘Hey, are you ok?’ Let’s say you don’t answer. The device is fully cellular, it’s fully HIPAA compliant. We then call you realtime, so within 10 seconds of your heart stopping we’re actually calling you to investigate a false positive. If we can’t get a hold of you or you’re incapacitated, we then escalate to your emergency contact as well as an EMT. So on the emergency contact side, we’re basically sending them a text, they can look at it, see real time notes from our dispatchers, status updates, what’s going on, and most importantly where you are.”
The user can also activate the device manually in a non-cardiac emergency, whether that’s a fall, a car crash, or a home invasion.
Howard says that the team’s Practice Fusion background will give them a big advantage on the service side, and they already have plans and back up plans in place to handle high call volume. He also said the demand for the product is there, because he argues no one is creating stylish response devices for the baby boomer demographic.
“When you look at a LifeAlert, that’s something like a 75-plus market,” he said. “People that have actually fallen, it’s really for someone that is relatively homebound, end of life kind of scenario. [iBeat] has similarities but it’s a little bit different because it’s targeted at the 50 to 70 demographic. We’re targeting the baby boomers. They probably have some risk but they probably haven’t been diagnosed with a specific heart issue and what I mean by that is that a third of the adult population in the US has high blood pressure and a third of the adult population in the US has high cholesterol. So, inherently if you’re reaching 50 you're carrying a lot more risk than someone that’s 30.”
To create a stylish device, iBeat has enlisted the Ammunition Group, an industrial design firm that has worked with Polaroid, Microsoft, and Beats by Dre. The wearable is currently just a prototype, Howard said.
“On the industrial design front we are really keen on bringing something very stylish to market that doesn’t brand you as older, elderly or sick,” said Howard.