Urinary incontinence is a medical condition that affects more than 423 million men and women worldwide. The burden of urinary incontinence is expected to grow due to an ageing population and other growing pathologies and factors.
One in three women experience symptoms of urinary incontinence, which can range from occasional leakage to stress-related urgency or complete loss of bladder control.
Urinary incontinence often occurs when there is pressure on the urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder), caused by laughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects.
However, this issue may also be caused by pathological reasons like bladder and bowel dysfunction and neurological disorders.
Dealing with Urinary Incontinence often leads to adverse issues such as social isolation, depression, and in some cases, severe health complications. To cater to this concerning condition, there is a rising need for technological innovation that will improve the lives of those suffering from it.
Companies like ProvenMed, have risen to the challenge and are striving to innovate products and solutions focused on combating Urinary Incontinence and similar problems.
In the following interview, Souheil Guessoum, Co-founder & Chief Executive Officer, and Amine Staali, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer, take us through the company’s journey so far, share their opinion on the current landscape of the HealthTech space, and their vision for the company’s future.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
Please brief our audience about ProvenMed, its mission, and the key aspects of its stronghold within the healthcare services niche.
ProvenMed® was established in 2018 by two social entrepreneurs, Souheil Guessoum and Amine Staali, who sought an innovative solution for individuals who suffer from urinary incontinence. For millions of incontinent patients worldwide, comfort and ease of use are the priority when managing their condition. The team inspects the challenges as they are from the patient’s point of view to ensure the designed innovative wearable medical devices offer optimum comfort, ease in usage, hygiene, and reusability to those in need.
With its flagship product ActivGo®, ProvenMed® has guaranteed thousands of incontinent males a return to their active lifestyles. Through compassionate empathy, ProvenMed® continues to develop revolutionary medical devices that empower people and improve their lives. The company aims to become the leading innovator of cutting-edge medical devices and smart wearables.
Tell us more about the offerings that give ProvenMed a distinct edge to stand out from the competition?
The current incontinent management market features common products such as adult diapers, disposable pads, condom catheters, and intermittent catheters. They have shown to be unsatisfactory, unsustainable, and most often result in further problems, including skin rashes and urinary tract infections. ProvenMed stood out by innovating an external wearable urinary catheter with a fully integrated cleaning system.
Redefining the urinary incontinence care industry, ProvenMed has created the ActivGo® for men entirely from the patient’s experience suffering from this condition. It transcends the existing products by being the first non-invasive and patient-friendly solution that supports the users’ active lifestyle without compromising their comfort or safety.
What is your opinion on the effects of the current pandemic on the healthcare sector, and what challenges did your company face during the initial phase of the pandemic?
With the recent unprecedented health crisis, the COVID-19 has caused drastic changes to businesses and upended the regular flow of operations across all entities, both the individual and organizational levels. People are threatened with the unknown. Government leaders were scouting to gather some form of control. Researchers are still chasing after a cure.
Private and public sectors are uniting to help communities. Most importantly, healthcare professionals are now combating this battle on the frontlines while risking their lives to treat others. Doctors, nurses, medics, and other healthcare workers are the most susceptible to infection due to their direct and prolonged exposure to virus carriers. Furthermore, their immune systems are weakened with the stress induced by working for long durations.
The COVID-19 pandemic has enabled us to acknowledge the strengths of entrepreneurs that made them better equipped than others to face obstacles head-on, be on the lookout for opportunities to seize, and find new methods to adapt and grow. In the case of ProvenMed, the pandemic has unlocked an unseen potential to expand the value of the flagship product ActivGo® in helping other verticals like frontline medics.
Designed to manage urinary incontinence hygienically, ActivGo® is helping people who have limited access to toilets by allowing critical workers to use the wearable system comfortably. This solution is now beneficial to doctors and medics as they take care of COVID-19 patients. It is in these challenging times that entrepreneurs are inspired to use their natural aptitude to create a rapid response and tackle problems. This pandemic opened a new window for us to reach more people that could greatly benefit from our services.
With continuous development in technologies such as AI and big data, what is your prediction about the future of the healthcare services market?
We believe that the applications of Artificial Intelligence have huge and wide-ranging potential. We are now able to interpret patterns in big data that may not be readily apparent, which has powerful implications in optimizing healthcare services. These clinical insights will allow for data-supported treatment plans and more accurate clinical decisions, ultimately lowering costs while enhancing patient care.
We are currently witnessing the adoption of AI programs to practices such as diagnosis, prognostication, personalized medicine, and preventive care, drug development, and patient monitoring and care as well as the facilitation of administrative activities. The need to accelerate these advancements has become a pressing matter in the healthcare sector.
In concordance with the UAE’s vision to be a global leader in AI by 2031, ProvenMed has strategized the launch of a smart wearable that detects bladder fullness and urination frequency and analyses this data using AI algorithms to prompt the user of potential leakage. We envision this to be a crucial milestone in incontinence management as it will lessen leakage accidents, predict other diseases by reading vitals, protect the patient’s self-esteem and confidence and promote preventive care.
As an established leader, what would be your advice to the budding entrepreneurs and enthusiasts aspiring to venture into the healthcare services niche?
I highly encourage the budding innovators to embrace the human-centred mindset as a key competency for a successful entrepreneur in this field. They must be motivated by the ability to empathize with others. Empathy guides our view of the world through other people’s eyes and helps us gain a deeper appreciation of people’s emotional and physical needs. It is only then can we effectively respond with ideas that create meaningful and beneficial products, services, and experiences that truly leave an impact on the patient’s way of living. – Amine Staali
How do you envision scaling ProvenMed’s operations and offerings in 2021?
ProvenMed has set strategic objectives to scale the business while increasing its efficiency. It is planning for a growth capital fund raising with strategic investors to fuel global expansion and extend its products and solutions to more people worldwide. Moreover, it plans on optimizing operations by improving operating models and processes, including forming contracts with suppliers to achieve higher supplier performance.
It is one of ProvenMed’s goals to increase awareness about the epidemiology of issues associated with loss of bladder control to reach more users who could benefit from the company’s devices. As the team proceeds to perform closely with patients and urologists, the identified issues are expected to inspire the improvement of existing devices and the development of various new IP-protected ones.
The company has commenced ongoing research and development projects and is currently working on a patented, innovative, wearable hybrid solution for female patients that factors in comfort and reliability when managing both light and severe urinary incontinence. The female product is at the final testing stage and expected to be launched in Q1 2022.
It has also allocated a team of professionals to design and test a smart textile wearable that is AI-driven to enable a non-invasive continuous reading of bladder fullness and abnormality in patients.
It is linked to a medic’s platform to provide early detection and instigate preventive care. Additionally, the company foresees the great impact of producing a patented auto-drainage and sanitation system targeted at individuals in wheelchairs, cars, and no access to toilets to easily manage their urinary needs with more ease and comfort.
Lastly, considering the increased risks of infection and disease spread through contact, people have become extremely wary of public lavatories. The company’s offering of a single-use product will be beneficial to those who have limited access to restrooms or want to stay safe and protected during these difficult times. This solution will be considered as the first urination PPE which will help our front-liners like medics, delivery drivers and soldiers to stay healthy while not comprising their productivity or dignity.
About the Leaders
Growing up as a creative spirit who had an eye for innovation, Souheil is always searching for new problems to solve. He stumbled upon one after meeting with R&D expert Amine. They shared mutual compassion and enthusiasm to alleviate the daily struggles of a friend living with urinary incontinence.
The two motivated entrepreneurs decided to integrate their skillset to realize an effective solution and transform the lives of those who suffer from this condition. They began by interviewing patients who had tried what was offered in the market but never found anything that gave them the sustained relief they desired. After learning what was missing and what patients truly needed to improve their quality of life, the ActivGo® product for men marked its inception as a unique and innovative solution for their day-to-day problems.
At ProvenMed, Souheil Guessoum oversees the commercial and business wing as the Chief Executive Officer, and Amine Staali, multi-sector entrepreneur, innovator, and a passionate design thinker oversees the R&D, IP, and manufacturing wing of ProvenMed® as the Chief Technology Officer. The two strive to lead and inspire the team; they represent the ideal amalgam of expertise and visionary thinking.