Q&A: Developing an app to ease basic needs for people with mental illness

Many patients with nerve injury or condition neurogenic bladderor bladder control, problems stemming from brain, spinal cord, or nerve problems.

Some patients may need constant use of catheters and collection bags, but that may be possible waste time or difficult to use in public spaces. Augment Health co-founders Jared Meyers and Stephen Kalinsky wanted to add another option for patients with a device that monitors bladder fullness and alerts users on a smartphone app.

CEO Meyers and CTO Kalinsky sat down with MobiHealthNews to discuss how their system works, what they learned from talking to patients and providers, and what’s next for their launch.

MobiHealthNews: Can you give me some background on how the device and the app work?

Stephen Kalinsky: We are helping people with neuropathy know when their bladder is full.

At the end of the catheter, where they would normally have a bag, our device would instead connect and monitor their filling. It notifies them on their phone when their bladder is full and then they can open this valve when they have to go to the bathroom, and it will empty their bladder. And so it becomes a natural process where someone stores urine in their body, instead of emptying it into a bag.

There are physiological benefits that come with that, and then there’s also the peace of mind when you don’t necessarily have to worry about people seeing the bag and staring or potentially leaking.

MHN: What is the motivation behind designing this type of system?

Jared Meyers: The project started while Stephen and I at Georgia Tech were reviewing their biomedical engineering program. We each did a few different roles with startups last summer; we go back to looking for where we can really make an impact and start something of our own.

To be honest, I had a conversation on the plane with a urologist. From there, we started talking to more people. As we made the transition from talking primarily with urologists to also hearing stories from people with spinal cord injuries, people with multiple sclerosis, people dealing with this topic every day. That’s when it really moved from an interesting space to a problem we knew we had to solve immediately. It’s really this research, this understanding of the patient journey and the patient experience.

MHN: What did you hear from patients and providers when discussing that patient’s journey and experience?

Meyers: Initially, we heard a lot about infections from the clinician side. Catheter-related urinary tract infections is a big and very significant problem in the space, and there’s a lot of work to be done on those issues. But then, as we continued to talk to patients, what we began to hear was that, in many cases, it can take a long time for someone to use the bathroom. Some people were hesitant to go out for a week or more after starting to use these urine collection bags because they felt embarrassed.

In other cases, someone let their pet cat jump on the bag, causing the bag to burst. From others, who may have had this condition a little longer or did a little more research, they really voice the concerns all around, “Wait, what if I was using a bag instead of a bag?” my bladder, what’s going on with me. bladder health? “

For a clinician, they may see this patient once a month, but for his patients and those dealing with medical conditions, this is an everyday affair – even maybe every four hours – something like that.

MHN: How did you develop this app to work with the device?

Kalinsky: It comes from those user interviews, where they identify the need and how someone will interact with it. Before we knew we needed an app, one way we looked at things was if there was some way the device could notify someone. But if you think about whether you ever have something in your pocket, you might not necessarily hear it. And if you don’t have sensation below the waist, you won’t feel any tactile cues there. Obviously, if it’s covered by clothing, you won’t see the light.

So sending information to the phone is actually one of the easiest ways to reach patients. You have more computing power on your phone than we can fit into a device that we want to shrink.

There’s this synergistic effect where we can make the device smaller and reduce the weight that has to go into the battery and other processing, and then also do more complex processing and generate reports if sick Patients should report this to their doctor.

MHN: What are your next steps for the business?

Meyers: What we’re aiming for next is hyper-focus on the two core elements of the business, technology development and then the commercial path. On a slightly more granular level, we already have that prototype complete, but just make sure we can make it usable for people who might have limited ingenuity. because of some of these injuries and illnesses.

Once we’ve done that and gone through the management process, we’re ready to get this in everyone’s hands as quickly as possible. So in that respect, it defines who the initial admission clinics will be, actually communicating with neurologists and other industry stakeholders.

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