DigiSight Technologies, Inc.
March 3, 2014 Issue
The Most Powerful Name In Corporate News and Information
Connecting Providers and Mobile-Based Diagnostics
AboutDigiSight™ Technologies, Inc.
Technologies, Inc. is a Silicon Valley software company focused on
connecting providers and mobile-based diagnostics. Remote patient monitoring
using consumer devices like smartphones and tablets is a rapidly growing
industry. Providers have yet to unlock the true potential of these devices
due to concerns about security and integrating multiple diagnostics into
their workflow. DigiSight facilitates the link by providing a single, secure
portal for providers to access all of their mobile-diagnostic systems. By
uniting these data-creation devices into a single portal and single
database, providers can realize the full potential of remote patient
monitoring and data analytics. The company is headquartered in Portola
Valley, California and was incorporated in Delaware.
Portola Valley, CA 94028
Interview conducted by: Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – March 3, 2014
CEOCFO: Mr. Foster, what is the concept behind DigiSight Technologies?
Mr. Foster: DigiSight Technologies is a platform technology that connects next-generation mobile-based diagnostics to physician practices. We are in the midst of a period of rapid innovation, when standard in-office diagnostics are being implemented on smartphones and tablets. Mobile-diagnostics offer many value propositions like improved outcomes, lower cost of care and real-time monitoring. However physicians have been slow to integrate them into their practices due to concerns about data security, HIPAA compliance and just having too many data streams to manage. We integrate these diagnostics into a single portal for physicians to use in a secure and HIPAA-compliant way. This allows physicians to tap into the value that these next-generation devices offer.
Initially, our focus is in ophthalmology where routine diagnostics are being pushed from high-cost settings like the office and into low-cost settings such as the home. The industry is large, with millions of diagnostic procedures performed annually and many new mobile-based technologies. And these mobile-diagnostics translate immediately into benefits like improved practice workflow, reduced total cost of our care, and potentially improved outcomes.
CEOCFO: Walk us through the process. How would a patient be engaging with their physician?
Mr. Foster: The ophthalmology module consists of three parts. The first is a mobile app, which the patient uses to test his/her vision at home. The second component is a cloud-based database, and the third is a physician or practice portal where the physician or practice can view the patient’s data securely and in real time. We integrate 10 different diagnostics that the patient can use to assess his/her visual function. These tests are simple to learn and take very little time; approximately 10 seconds to take a single test. The physician recommends a test or a suite of tests to take at a certain frequency, maybe two or three times a week or less frequently as the case may be. The patient, after he or she takes the test, is shown the results and the data are automatically uploaded to the database. Any physician whom the patient has authorized to share his/her data can then review these data and monitor patients remotely.
Patient engagement is an important topic for any mobile-based diagnostic. We believe that our initial suite of visual function tests is well suited for patients with macular disease (for example, Age-related Macular Degeneration, Diabetic Retinopathy and Retinal Vein Occlusion).These patients are highly motivated to take an active role in their care-plan given that the consequence of poor disease management is loss of central vision. Patients fear blindness more than most conditions and there is little else they can do aside from showing up for their in-office treatments. This is an easy and important way that they can be active participants in their disease management. Patient engagement has been strong as a result and we believe it will continue to be so.
CEOCFO: How would the test compare to what might be done in a doctor’s office? Is this going to produce an overall better result because the physician can monitor regularly or is it more of a supplement because people do not come in when they should?
Mr. Foster: Taking the second question first, this technology can help monitor disease progression. Macular disease can progress quickly, and unexpectedly. If you catch progression early, there’s a good chance you can stabilize and potentially restore vision. If you catch it late, there’s a good chance that retinal scarring occurs and vision will be lost. Once patients leave the physician’s office, they become invisible to the physician; the physician does not know how the patient is doing. With this technology, the physician can know exactly how patients are doing and potentially bring them in for treatment early if their vision declines.
As far as comparing to in-office tests, the mobile tests we currently integrate into our physician portal replicate standard tests you would find in a practice today. This is important because physicians are familiar with the metrics and that means immediate understanding of the patient data. Collecting this data frequently lets physicians look at a patient’s disease progression graphically and longitudinally. Charts like this have never existed before for most patients. They make it easy to see trends of disease progression and response to treatment. This could allow physicians to determine which patients are in need of treatment versus simply a checkup, and this also could help a physician detect early progression of disease.
CEOCFO: What were some of the challenges in creating the tests and having them run smoothly on the apps?
Mr. Foster: The tests replicate standard, in-office tests. We needed to make sure there was a strong correlation between our testing data and in-office data, which there is. Additionally, we wanted to design the app so that it was user-friendly, not only for a regular user but also for an older patient population that might have compromised vision. In terms of the design of the buttons and the color contrasts, all of those were important considerations in developing the technology.
CEOCFO: Where are you in the process of going to market and utilization?
Mr. Foster: We are early in our commercial launch, and we have good traction in the ophthalmology market. We have patients using the technology as well as some physicians using the technology, but we are still early in the process of getting it out there and having patients and physicians use it. We’ve found that patients generally download and use the tests on their own so to date it’s really been a technology that sells itself. Additionally we have been very fortunate that our early physician adopters are key practices in the US. Their feedback has been instrumental in refining the interface and functionality.
CEOCFO: What is the key to reaching the ophthalmologists?
Mr. Foster: Ophthalmologists understand that this "is not a product, but a solution," as one key doctor has said. Retinal specialists know that having data on visual function for patients when they are between appointments is key to improving outcomes for this disease, and they are very keen to participate in launching this technology. Also it’s worth mentioning that historically, data has been generated in a very manual fashion. A patient takes a test, and the test results are manually transcribed to a paper chart. That data is then typed into an EMR. With the advent of mobile technologies, testing data and diagnostic data are now being generated with these digital devices. They offer a number of advantages as I described earlier. We are really enabling the physician to convert from the manual form of generating data to the digital form, which will reduce their paperwork and also allow them to care for their patients better. They can potentially detect disease or disease progression earlier, which could improve outcomes. Really we are enabling physicians to adopt new forms of diagnostics that are starting to gain traction within the market today.
CEOCFO: What have you learned in your experience in developing healthcare technologies that will make the process of getting attention from the ophthalmologists happen?
Mr. Foster: Doctors are extremely busy, and the value proposition for the technology really needs to stand out. The physician needs to immediately grasp how the technology is going to benefit his or her practice and/or his or her patients. One of the great things about this technology is that it has the potential not only to improve outcomes, but also to improve the workflow of a practice. For ophthalmology in particular, workflow has become an important issue as the aging of America as well as the increase in prevalence of diabetes has created a large demand of new patients in these practices. There is a study that shows that the average number of office visits for ophthalmology patients from 2000 to 2006 increased by 1.7x, whereas the number of ophthalmologists in the country has remained the same. The amount of demand for time within ophthalmology has increased dramatically over this period of time. These ophthalmologists really need tools to help manage this increased demand better while also maintaining good outcomes for their patients and caring for their patients. If they see this technology as a way to help triage their patient population, either in the office or remotely, that will be a significant value. That is why we think this is a technology that, in terms of its value proposition, really stands out to a physician and will encourage them to adopt it rapidly.
CEOCFO: Where do you see the Affordable Care Act and surrounding issues coming into play for you?
Mr. Foster: The ACA moves physicians towards outcomes-based reimbursement models. Home monitoring will be play a critical role in optimizing outcomes and therefore be an important value to physicians. In some reimbursement models that are being investigated today, home monitoring is a requisite. Therefore we see considerable tail-winds that support the adoption of various remote patient monitoring technologies.
CEOCFO: You mentioned it as a platform technology. What might be ahead for you?
Mr. Foster: There is considerable value to linking physicians to mobile-diagnostic information. Such information could potentially be used to diagnose, manage and treat patients across multiple specialties. Mobile tests that don’t link don’t offer nearly as much value. The key to our technology is that we have developed a robust back end to integrate this data, and that is something that most of these diagnostics do not have. Today we link physicians to a suite of visual function tests. In the future, we anticipate integrating additional types of tests both in ophthalmology and in other specialties.
CEOCFO: What is the competitive landscape? Are there many companies attempting to work in the same arena?
Mr. Foster: We believe we have first-mover advantage for this particular strategy. There are many companies working on new, mobile-based diagnostics and there are many companies that are EMR companies, or electronic medical record companies. However, no one is connecting the two dots like we are. We see ourselves as having a significantly good position within the market today.
CEOCFO: Are you funded for the next steps?
Mr. Foster: We are just starting a fundraising process right now. We have great angel investors that have been very supportive of the hard work that went into developing the technology we have today. We are raising capital to execute the commercialization strategy as well as to integrate additional diagnostics into our platform.
CEOCFO: Different disease areas tend to go in and out of focus with the investment community. What is your feeling about the area that you are working in? Is it something that people have an interest in today?
Mr. Foster: DigiSight is an enabling technology that gets the most value out of mHealth which most agree is here to stay. I think that’s a winning strategy over time. The value of data generated from digital diagnostics and the corresponding database that will be created by those data points will become critical components to delivering care in the future. All components or all constituents of the healthcare industry will want to have some type of system to integrate the data effectively into their current workflow. I think that is something that will be viewed as very attractive to investors as they look at the company.
CEOCFO: Put it all together for our readers. Why DigiSight Technologies?
Mr. Foster: DigiSight is the key to unlocking the value of next-generation mobile diagnostics. We all appreciate the value that mobile diagnostics offer: to deliver care more efficiently in terms of cost and most importantly to improve outcomes for patients. However, it’s difficult to integrate all the data that these diagnostics generate. We meet this need and have demonstrated traction in doing so. That, in combination with the data analytics capabilities we offer by uniting these disparate data sets, makes for an exciting plan for the company’s future.
CEOCFO: Final thoughts?
other thing I would mention is that we have an excellent operational team,
our board of directors and scientific advisory board. The two founders of
the company are Dr. Mark S. Blumenkranz, MD; he is the chairman of the Byers
Eye Institute at Stanford University, and Dr. Daniel Palanker, PhD, who is
also an Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at Stanford. They are
experienced entrepreneurs and have started other medical device companies in
the past with successful outcomes. This is one of their next initiatives. In
addition to that, our scientific advisory board has very well-regarded
members of the ophthalmology community who have been instrumental in the
development of this technology today.
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