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Five years ago, Elizabeth and Andreanne Blanchard’s mother, was diagnosed with severe autoimmune neuropathy. The two sisters knew they had to find a solution to help their mum maintain her independence and continue to live at home, while ensuring her safety. After a ‘Eureka moment’, they came up with the life-changing My Medic Watch app. Here, she answers a few questions about her experience and where she hopes to take My Medic Watch in the future.
How did your mum’s diagnosis lead to the development of My Medic Watch?
When our mother was diagnosed, it was a very difficult time. We were both extremely busy, juggling study and work, and then suddenly had the constant worry that our mother would fall when we weren’t there to help. When Mum got a smartwatch, we were very happy because she wore it all the time, and we knew that if she had a fall, then she could call us using the watch if she couldn’t get to her phone. We then had a ‘Eureka moment’: what if there was a way we could be notified immediately and automatically if our mum had a fall, so she didn’t even need to call us? What if there was a way we could know that she needed her help, even if she had become unconscious?
Once we had the idea, we started to do a lot of research, and we were amazed to find that there were no apps on the market that performed this function. We also learnt a lot about how devices such as the Apple Watch could read the body’s vital signs and interpret them via algorithms. We knew then that if we combined the two, we could have something really incredible and potentially life changing.
Where did you go from there? How did it get off the ground?
The first step was to run the idea past mum, who also happens to be an expert in digital technology.She gave it her full support and backing, so we then took it to her neurologist, Professor Bruce James Brew. Professor Brew was excited to get on board, having already thought about a similar concept himself for falls and seizures, and realising the idea’s immense potential to save lives.
We then went into an extensive product design and development phase. This resulted in us developing an algorithm which would allow us to detect a person’s fall or seizure. We ended up getting a patent for this unique algorithm as nothing like it existed on the market. We then created prototypes in order to test how the product could work. We also reached out to a range of professionals with specific expertise who we thought could provide advice and really help us fine-tune the product. This included Geoff Charnock, Serge Lauriou, Kate Carruthers and Benoit Maurel.
How did the clinical trials come about?
My Medic Watch now has two independent clinical trials at Sydney-based hospitals: St Vincent’s Hospital and Westmead Hospital. These trials focused on My Medic Watch’s accuracy in the detection of falls and seizures, and we were actually amongst the first companies in the world to conduct medical trials in this field.
Once the app was at a suitable stage of development, we conducted some research trials at the National Facility for Human Robot Interaction Research at UNSW, which really highlighted the accuracy of our patented algorithm.
Both trials revealed excellent commercial pilot results and feedback, and the apps are now already being used by thousands of people.
You’ve also won some awards for My Medic Watch?
Yes, we’re very proud that My Medic Watch has won some notable awards now. This includes the iAwards for best Consumer Markets product in 2019 , and the China Canvas Challenge People’s Choice Award, also in 2019
We’re also partnering with some very significant organisations and taking part in some great initiatives. This year we were accepted into the NSW Going Global program, which means we receive a range of government support in promoting our app to international markets. We’re also now part of Pledge 1%, which is a global movement that encourages and challenges individuals and companies to pledge 1% of their equity, profit, product and/or employee time for their communities.
So where to from here?
We’re really committed to ensuring that as many people can benefit from My Medic Watch as possible. We know that our app really can change lives, so ensuring it can be used in as many markets and by as many people in need as possible is very important to us.
We are working on some new exciting features, so stay tuned for these!