Maryse Suppiger
May 20, 2019

Founder Feature: QMedic

Medical alert devices give caregivers and fall-risk individual a piece of mind. These devices streamline, assist, and simplify the lives of many who worry that themselves or a loved one may fall in an empty home. However, there are problems with many of the medical alert devices currently on the market. Some devices are prone to false alarms. Many have limited battery life, and need to be charged. Some are not waterproof, and thus must be taken off when an individuals showers or washes their hands, which is dangerous.

Q-Medic is a simplified medical alert watch that is waterproof, has a comfortable wrist band, and does not need to be charged. Caregivers have access to the daily health information of the individuals being monitored 24/7 via an online dashboard and mobile phone alerts. We spoke with Sombit Mishra, CEO & Co-Fouder of QMedic, to learn more about his journey to founding QMedic, and how QMedic is improving caregiver and fall-risk individuals’ lives.

Interview with CEO, Sombit Mishra

What was your inspiration for founding QMedic? What is your prior experience?

Sombit Mishra (SM): We were three co-founders from MIT that had considerable experience in UX design, wearable computing and machine learning.  Ultimately, in designing QMedic, we spent thousands of hours with low-income seniors living alone and discovered that existing solutions were inadequate for helping people get the right care at the right time (and avoiding ER admissions).  In addition, we spent a ton of time with payers/insurers, which gave us deep insight into how to reduce administrative burden for insurers and escalate third party care services into the home efficiently.  

How does QMedic work?

SM: QMedic combines the simplicity and affordability of help button medical alert services with advanced machine learning to intelligently route high-risk members to the right care services at the right time.  QMedic can be set up by the user in less than 5 minutes by simply plugging a base station into a power outlet.  The user wears a waterproof wrist bracelet or neck pendant that features a help button and embedded sensing.  The button can detect abnormal activity and sleep behaviors 24 hours/day and, importantly, requires no recharge of the battery.  The real value of the system is what happens in the cloud, where we can track behaviors against the user's personalized baseline and escalate timely alerts to family members, nurses and other care delivery providers.  

How does QMedic compare to similar devices on the market?

SM: We are better, faster and cheaper--and feature more proactive connectivity--than any other medical alert system on the market. QMedic is the only wearable computing device that does not require recharge of the battery, which makes the system extremely simple for even the most frail consumers.  Most of QMedic's consumers have 3+ chronic conditions and suffer from both physical and cognitive impairments, making simplicity a critical feature of any system targeting this market.

What feedback have you received on QMedic?

SM: Users appreciate the simplicity of having a system that does not require a user manual.  In fact, we use the "user manual test" as the benchmark for introducing new features. If a user has to use a manual, it's likely to hinder adoption...so we try to avoid introducing technical complexity for the user at all cost.    

Users typically are not that interested in sensor data but their nurses and family members value this type of data greatly.  The best feedback we have received highlights the ongoing tension between caregivers and users.  The former are very invested in knowing as much as possible about the user's safety and wellness, while the latter are most interested in preserving independence at home and not burdening loved ones.  With that in mind, we play a constant balancing act with how we share data and preserve the independence of the user.

As a founder of a health-tech company, what unmet needs have you identified in the health-tech ecosystem? How can these needs be addressed?

SM: The home is a blackbox for most professional caregivers and family members living remotely from a loved one.  Between home visits (typically every 2-3 months for professional caregivers), there are few efficient opportunities to identify how the member is doing.  Furthermore, there is a high administrative burden for care managers to prioritize which members need care/outreach in a given day or week.  QMedic's system is tailor-made for intelligently routing high-risk members across the care network and enabling care managers to prioritize outreach accordingly.    

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs in the health-tech space?

SM: Before you build anything, listen and observe carefully.  Find product-market fit, get paid revenue (avoid unpaid pilots), bootstrap until you build out the repeatable business model, and only raise institutional money when that money is chasing you.

What are your next 3 major milestones at QMedic?

SM: We're optimistic about these upcoming milestones

  1. Transition from 3G to 4G connectivity.
  2. Expand Managed Care footprint within both Medicaid and Medicare.  We currently have all of the Fortune 500 eligible health plans as clients and are scaling rapidly.
  3. Target global markets beyond the US with massive aging populations and need--China, India, Japan, and the EU.

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