The leading telehealth solution providers around the world exhibit their excellence in remote delivery of healthcare services. They provide evaluation, diagnosis, and evaluation facilities to patients without any in-person visit.
These companies enable patients to communicate from their homes by using internet and other technologies – providing lasting treatment experiences to the patients.
One such established telehealth solutions provider is Hope Care. It is one of the first national companies in the digital health arena to combine services, technological platforms, and products, allowing the provision of a totally innovative social and health care service.
By promoting the well-being of its clients wherever they are, Hope Care collects and monitors vital signs at a distance and provides digital health service through advanced technologies. The company primes for the development of m-Health concepts together with support services.
At the helm of Hope Care’s ceaseless success is its Founder, Jose Paulo Carvalho. His vision came from a personal experience when his mother was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in early 2003. Mr. Carvalho states that the lesson learned from this experience has 3 key points:
– His mother wanted to live independently, so the challenge was to build a system where she could communicate and be free to make her own decisions.
– She didn’t want to be institutionalized, so he needed to build a remote system to send the data to the hospital and to be sure she is secure.
– Facilitate the access to care by coordinating different teams (from Social Care and Health) so that she could have “the Hospital at Home.”
In 2009 Jose started an Executive MBA in AESE/IESE and jointly with more 2 colleagues, Simão Calado and Pedro Ferreira, designed Hope Care as their final project based on those 3 key principles. The concept was well received and pushed them to start the company in 2012.
The vision that they implemented in the company was a simple statement: Build a hospital at home without barriers!
In the following interview, Mr. Carvalho shares details about Hope Care’s inception, the various services it provides, its opinion about the industry, and its future plans. Following are the highlights of the interview:
Please brief our audience about Hope Care, its mission, and the key aspects of its stronghold within the HealthTech niche.
When my colleagues and I founded Hope Care, it was clear that the ageing of the population and the growing prevalence of chronic diseases would be the two biggest challenges that Portugal and Europe would face in this century.
The founders’ opinion focused largely on the belief that, as connected care solutions, they could ease the burden of society by allowing more efficient care. We developed a solution that allows people to live independently in their homes for longer and with more quality of life. The goal is to allow access (and this is a fundamental word throughout the process) without barriers to caring through technology.
The pandemic situation has proven our vision: digital solutions, such as Hope Care, are a key technical help to care for people and facilitate access to quality life support.
Tell us more about the telehealth solutions that give your company a distinctive edge to stand out from the competition?
Hope Care has developed a solution, named HCAlert, that allows you to monitor chronic patients at home through their smartphone by collecting what we call ‘Life Data’.
In addition to vital signs monitoring such as Oximetry, Heart Rate, Body Temperature, we also monitor physical activity, environmental and behavioral data, among others. For us it is the data set that allows to measure the true condition of the patient.
Our differentiating factor is that all this information is analyzed through screening algorithms that helps the health professional to detect in time a worsening of the health condition.
This improves the clinical care process because it is known who should be taken care of in real time and without the patient having a serious event. What we have already proved is that we were able to detect early deviations that would lead to the hospitalization of the person with the chronic disease, such as COPD or Heart Failure. It is here, with proven evidence, that we distinguish ourselves from the competition.
As a seasoned business leader what is your opinion on the effects of the pandemic on the healthcare sector, and what were the challenges that your company came across?
I ’m optimistic by nature.
The pandemic has challenged the status quo of health organizations and for me this is good. It means that what was taken for granted is no longer so and that it is necessary to change enormously the way health care is provided.
Digital systems have demonstrated that new care pathways, such as video consultation, telemonitoring patients at home, developing new care techniques, new vaccines, all this is possible.
The most important thing is that it has become clear that there is a role outside the hospital for health care and that the hospital must rethink the way it operates. Health systems must rethink prevention and not be reactive to the disease. The hospital must be at patient’s home and not waiting patients in the hospital.
The pandemic has demonstrated there has to be a focus on monitoring patients at home, promote patient self-care (which implies better training of citizens and their accountability) and responsible personal decision/action when each of one of us face the disease.
Without this, the systems will not have the capacity in the future to serve the population and, as consequence, citizens will not have access to health care. There is an openness of mentality in various actors of the health system to adopt digital technologies, but it is essential not to miss the opportunity.
For Hope Care, the biggest challenge will be to find the best way for this type of digital health system to be funded to allow widespread access. My view is that there should be a prescription, like medication, when the doctor knows what kind of system will benefit the patient at that time. This will allow strong regulation and competition for the benefit of the citizens.
With continuous development in technologies such as AI and ML, what is your prediction about the future of the telehealth solutions niche?
The 5G will bring a new step for connectivity of data and will allow more information about the citizen.
From one side this will allow to build a predictive system that helps to improve the care and, on the other side, will challenge healthcare providers to create new care pathways, new clinical decision systems, new personalized care, and new medication.
In my point of view, we will face two challenges:
- The healthcare professionals’ roles will change, and we will have a gap between what technology can deliver versus healthcare professionals’ adoption and acceptance.
- A huge ethical dilemma that will start from discussions about the limit where we can accept a clinical decision by a Bot, where we can be intruders correlating data or knowing that an event can occur with certain person or how we can force or not to comply with a certain clinical decision.
This discussion already exists with the Digital Certificate for vaccinated persons, so imagine when we can have much more data for a clinical decision in real time!
The future is bright, the question will be about adoption, regulation, and reimbursement.
What would be your advice to the entrepreneurs and healthcare enthusiasts aspiring to venture into telehealth?
Digital Health is in green field yet. There is a long run and new innovative solutions to build.
My advice is that you must be challenged by what seems to be impossible, to be persistent and to focus on solving a real problem that impacts on each person’s lives.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2021?
This year we are already operating in Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. Our perspective is to consolidate screening algorithms and adapt them to local reality, so we are testing these markets.
If the result is positive, as we expect, then we will seek to enter in more European markets. We are currently developing predictive systems applied to chronic patient screening and looking forward to a new round of investment for this new phase of the company.
Exhibiting True Excellence
Hope Care was founded in 2012 and has received several recognitions and published impact.
In 2015 it received a recognition from NOS Innovation Award (Telco) where Hope Care was recognized as one of the most innovative Portuguese companies acting in m-Health area.
In 2017 the Portuguese Coimbra Hospital (CHUC) published the PoC results from COPD patients using HCAlert: 50% reduction in hospitalizations and 30% of emergency room admissions compared to non-telemonitored patients.
In same year the ANI – Agência Nacional de Inovação, SA (Portuguese National Innovation Agency) distinguished Hope Care with Born from Knowledge Award, an important recognition of a company that born from MBA students.
In 2019 Hope Care was published by Portuguese Covilhã Hospital (CHCB) the PoC´s results from CHF patients using HCAlert: a 56% reduction in hospitalization, 45% reduction in the days of Hospitalization and reduction of emergency episodes by 89% when compared in the same period.
These results allowed to Hope Care become one of preferred solutions by Microsoft.
In 2020 the company started the ISO 13 485 ClassIIb certification process and the EUDAMED registration as Medical Device manufacturer.
At end of 2020 the company received from ANI – Agência Nacional de Inovação, SA (Portuguese National Innovation Agency) the recognition of the competence of Hope Care SA in research and development.