Digital Health Champions: Smart sanitation solutions that flush up health data
Imagine you could easily receive updates on your health status and biomedical parameters – with an “invisible” digital health technology. S-There is working on such a device, developing a sensor that will make your toilet smart. Instead of (literally) flushing data down the toilet, the sensor analyzes your urine. At the Health 2.0 conference in Barcelona this year we encountered this great solution and have now talked with co-founder Adrian Gomez Campos.
Dear Adrian, thank you for sharing some insights about S-There. In a nutshell: what do you do and what problem do you solve?
We are helping toilets become smart devices for monitoring health conditions. We envision a device which could analyze our health status at home in a non-invasive and simple way, every day.
Our first use case is hydration because for some patients (CKD, CHF) the difference between a good or bad water balance means life or death. Also, a niche of people are getting conscious about hydration and are looking for methods to keep on eye on it. The future of medicine is prevention through a healthier lifestyle improved by personalized data.
How did you come up with this idea? Is there a story behind it?
We wanted to create a technological innovation for non-technical people such as our grandmas. So we came up with the idea of the toilet as everyone uses it every day and we can measure thousands of biomedical parameters through it.
We won and were selected to join the IDEA2 program, a biomedical innovation program of MIT.
Why is such a sensor relevant in the big picture? Who could make use of such a device?
When we take a look at the trends, we know the hospital of the future will be our home.
Right now the healthcare expenditure is focused on the hospital and we need to change it as it’s inefficient and no longer sustainable. Personalized medicine is essential for future medical care and this is going to be possible through personal data.
We believe the key is not to ask who could use our device instead of how we can assure the access for everyone even if people don’t care about how to use technology. For this reason, we want people to pee on our tech because they just have to do what they do every day.
How is the product accepted by consumers? Do you find that “toilet tech” is a taboo?
We are still improving our MVP but most people like it. Of course, for some people, it is a taboo but after a few seconds, they also realize that it makes a lot of sense to put this kind of device into their daily routine.
The most important thing is to offer people value, no matter where, and the rest are just things you have to solve on the way.
What are your plans for the future? What milestones do you want to reach next?
As I said before, we are improving our MVP to start selling in 2018. But before that, we are going to run some pilots to have more feedback from our early adopters.
Can you give us a little insight into what brought you personally into the sphere of digital health and IoT devices?
For me, digital health is the tool and IoT the way to make it simple.
It involves everything that is around us, things like our toilet, where we flush many health data every day. It’s really exciting how putting a device inside the toilet could improve our lives just checking our urine daily, detecting diseases in the early stages or monitoring patients. I wake up every day expecting to have that device in my toilet, telling me how I’m today and what I need to improve my health.
How do you perceive the current situation of the digital health sector? Are we on the right track or do you see certain obstacles ahead?
We are on the right track and people are making a lot of effort to implement digital health but the healthcare market has more “obstacles” than others markets for a good reason. We are talking about people’s lives and it’s reasonable that governments want to reduce risks.
That makes me think the implementation is going to be ahead in countries with private healthcare systems such as the US. It follows the same rule that applies to startups: the smaller the ecosystem, the faster the implementation.
When you think about big smartphone companies you think of Apple, Samsung or Xiaomi, but if you think about big digital health companies is not so easy. We will need big companies such as Google or Amazon in this sector to open doors to the rest.
Which technology do you think will be the biggest game changer?
I believe IoT will be the game changer lead by Big Data and AI.
In the future, I don’t see myself going to the hospital to see what is going on. I expect to be at home with my family and “something” will tell me what I have, order pills for me which will be delivered to my home and will do my follow up while I am watching my favourite series on Netflix.
How is digital health going to change our lives and society in 5‚ 10 and 25 years?
I think we are going to take the next 5 years implementing online systems such as electronic health records accessible to people everywhere and collecting data in a prospective way to make clinical use of AI.
Once we define the online platforms, in 10 years it is time to implement IoT, wearables and other kinds of devices to the healthcare system to get data and start using them. In 25 years digital health will disappear and I hope to be there and see what is next.
What characteristics should someone bring to the table trying to have an impact on healthcare? What traits would you deem most important to successfully move into digital health as a university graduate, startup entrepreneur, or job seeker?
I think the most important thing is passion. You can learn how to code, legal procedures and how to raise money. What you can not learn or buy is passion and if you are passionate about what you want to do, the rest comes with time.
What concrete problems or challenges within the field of digital health are graduates facing?
So far, graduates are not trained to work in the field of digital health and that is something most universities are trying to solve – but is taking too much time in my opinion.
What advice would you give graduates who want to join the digital health industry or startup?
Think about what you are most passionate about: Diabetes? IoT? Cancer? Children?
Think about what problem you want to solve most. Then go looking for startups working in this field, find out what they need, think how can you add value and ask for an internship to help them.
Adrian, thank you very much for sharing these insights!
About the interviewee
Adrian Gomez Campos is Co-Founder of S-There and has the vision to create a device that easily analyse people’s health at home, every day.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing and a Master focused on research in health sciences he is well-prepared to successfully pursue his vision. He has extensive experiences of the hospital and healthcare landscape in various countries. He has worked in Spain, the US, Germany, the UK, Norway and Italy in clinics, private companies and research centres.
Interested in more CEO-interviews? You can find many more interviews with innovative companies and startups in our series Digital Health Champions.
Her responsibilities include growing and nurturing our digital health platforms and, occasionally, taking care of bus tickets for the team. In her free time, she can be found on horseback out in the woods.