Today we will introduce you with one of the projects of our students called “Life Alert”. High techniques help to care about our health and health of our nearest and dearest. We talked with one of the members of team, Dmitry Yurchenko.
- It concerns a serious, really terrible problem that many of us face. Let’s imagine an elderly person; to make it more illustrative, let it be Santa Claus who is known to everyone from childhood. And now let’s reconstruct a critical situation. An early morning, he isn’t completely awake yet, he goes to the kitchen to make a cup of hot tea. Suddenly he loses balance that actually often happens to elderly people. Falls down. Statistically, when falling, unfortunately, elderly people don’t have time to react and protect vulnerable spots, so falls are very dangerous for them. That is what happened to Santa Claus – he started falling, hit himself hard, lost consciousness, bleeding began…
Some time later he came to consciousness, felt all his body aching and incredibly weak, so that he was incapable to turn on his own. Time went by; he couldn’t find strength to call for help and kept on lying on the cold floor. Two hours later his muscles started to decay (myoglobin decays), another four hours later his kidneys stopped. Santa Claus lay, suffered and knew that it was long till the next New Year, so no one was likely to come to see him…
Some hours later it was impossible to save Santa Claus at all. But to turn him over in order to suspend those terrible processes would be enough.
Just imaging how many elderly people, lonely or living separate from their relatives, face such critical situations…
What do you think could have saved a life of Santa Claus?
- If his grandchildren had learnt somehow what happened…
- Right! If Santa Claus had a chance to call for help, if there were a help call button within his reach – on his neck or wrist, for instance – his life would be saved. It is that we are working over now – we are developing a business plan for the life save button. Our project is called “Life Alert”. It can seem to sound simple that some single button can dramatically change the state of things, save a human life, but that’s what it is.
Let’s examine another scenario: let’s assume that Santa Claus didn’t come to consciousness after his fall and, consequently, was hypothetically unable to press the button. We have a solution for such cases too – a fall sensor. This is a device with a sensor which can distinguish daily actions from falling and send a warning signal of a possible fall to an emergency response console “Life Alert”. More advanced versions of this device can control a location of an elderly person by GPS, read an electrocardiogram, monitor an organism response to medicine taken, detect critical organism indications and inform a patient, a doctor and family members of a possible danger to health and life of the person.
- A story with Santa Claus is very sad. How often does it happen?
- Very often! There are more than 18 million elderly people over 65 years old in Russia. Over 7 million of them will statistically fall this year, with most of them falling again during the year with various severe consequences. About half of those who fall at this age cannot get up unassisted. Over 7% of falls result in fractures for the elderly. About 10% of falls end in severe head and internal injuries. It means that since you and I started talking (and you started reading this interview), several tens of the elderly have fallen, with many of them lying waiting for help.
- Rather sad…
- The situation is really sad. It shows two problems: indifference of health protection authorities and helplessness of the elderly. Our solution doesn’t deny a responsibility of doctors. There is no need to wait for generations and a state policy to change. We just do things to allow those relatives, friends and neighbours who care to know when the “Grandfather” needs help.
With our solution we plan to give an opportunity to every elderly person to get help in time. His relatives will be calm knowing that an elderly family member is safe, even if they can let themselves see him only on New Year’s holidays.
The principle of the “Life Alert” will be “Simple, Clear and Effective”, because when it is a matter of life and death, everything should be Simple and Clear. Our solution is Simple and Clear. That’s why it is simple to make clear its effectiveness to our customer.
- It’s got more optimistic. Please tell more about something good. For instance, about your development strategy.
- It’s very important to realize that the “Life Alert” is a starting point for us to implement our long-term strategy. The strategy is aimed at developing such line of medical industry as MobileHealth (mHealth) in Russia. mHealth is just starting up in developed countries and despite its young age it saves lives of millions of people even now, with time of doctors and patients and billions of dollars of the health authorities and insurance companies also saved.
- Who else works on the project in your team?
- There are five of us now! 3 SKOLKOVO students are working with me (Note: Dmitry is on the rightmost, and then from the right to the left): Irina Linnik, Alexander Khomenko and Sergey Pavlovsky. There is also a doctor in our team – Maxim Sungurov who has been working in the USA for 15 years and has cured over 100,000 patients during that period of time.
- How has this idea originated?
- I’ve been looking at a fast-growing market of medical services for a long time. Many experts invited to SKOLKOVO confirmed my hypotheses in their speeches. I’m deeply convinced that today a medical industry in Russia is very promising for investments. While examining this industry more thoroughly and communicating with people, I discovered such area as mHealth. Moreover, after two months on a corporate project of SKOLKOVO in the USA I learnt a lot about the US market of medical services as I worked at the world’s largest independent medical company in bio tech. I actively studied an American market and communicated with experts there. The week before last I flew to the USA again to attend World mHealthSummit. As new information was acquired, the idea evolved, it moved from the general to the special. In the beginning it could hardly be called an idea. It looked like a vague intent that we should go to medicine, then that we should develop telemedicine in Russia, then a lot of business ideas appeared, and we faced a common problem of entrepreneurs here – a lack of focus. Thanks to the School and our personal contacts we attracted a lot of strong business and medical experts to the project. Thus, as a result of our work a strategy of entering the market has formed, and now we hold negotiations on buying a pilot lot of the first devices.
- What is a current stage of the project?
- In order to understand if we are going in the right direction, it’s highly important to reach a Customer as soon as possible and make the first sales. The other day we launched a marketing research, and we are happy with the first results – people willingly answer questions, give detailed comments and recommendations. We have questioned over 120 people. More than half of them are ready to participate in a pilot project, about 16% are ready to buy the solution right now, and over 73% believe the solution to be interesting and are ready to consider a possibility of buying it. Any participation in our research by completing a questionnaire at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/28G2BGT until November 30 will be very much appreciated.
Your opinion is very important to us!
- When you were joining SKOLKOVO, did you keep some idea in your head for your own business or some area where you wanted to work?
- When I was joining SKOLKOVO, I didn’t know if I wanted to be an entrepreneur or a corporate worker. As I was joining it, I had my own business; I felt a lack of resources, knowledge, connections. So I thought, more likely, that after I graduated, I would join the corporate world, accumulate some experience, connections and then would start to build my business. At the School I realized that by nature I was more of an entrepreneur rather than a corporate worker, and it occurred to me that advancing in years it would be more difficult to leave everything and venture to start my own business – I would have something (family, children) to risk, a lower level of sound adventurism and energy and a set way of life which is difficult to refuse. So I decided to follow a principle If you want to be - Just do it! I want to advise the same to everyone who thinks about SKOLKOVO or is related to it. Don’t reflect if you win or lose. Just do it. Then you are sure to win!