The interview is prepared by Maryalice Gill, UMass Boston MBA student, graduating in May 2019.
What is your Educational background?
Masters in Engineering Technology Innovation Management (E&TIM) and Electrical Computer Engineering (ECE) from Carnegie Mellon University
What is RistCall?
RistCall helps hospitals and nursing homes in providing better patient nurse communication, using smart watches.
What sparked your idea?
Several years ago, I was hospitalized for a severe abdominal pain. It was 5 a.m. in the morning, and in pain, I was looking for call button, but I couldn’t find it. I got out of my bed to help myself, only to fall. I pulled a button only to see nursing staff after 30 minutes. It was my understanding that patients in need couldn’t call for help when away from their bed or after falling on ground. Similarly, staff on the floor who are busy with other patients in their rooms, had no way to know or determine the nature of call or urgency of call leading to poor patient safety and experience outcomes.
I realized poor patient safety and experience outcomes are costing hospitals up to $4 billion through avoidable costs and cuts in reimbursements. Being a technical entrepreneur and graduated from entrepreneurial ecosystem (CMU), I decided to address this antiquated technology with wearable devices.
What is unique about it ?
Once you move the mold of the call button, which is connected to walls, into something like a wearable, it can handle a wider variety of patient safety and nursing workflow issues, such as fall detection, wander detection, hand hygiene compliance , patient / staff location services , patient bands, panic buttons, voice communication all with same device. With wearable, we are challenging the status quo and modernizing healthcare to cut down costs and improve revenues. All this is achieved with 1/3 cheaper cost than any of the existing vendors in the market.
What type of audience are you targeting with it?
Currently RistCall is focusing on Acute care hospitals and Skilled nursing facilities.
When did you found it?
Who are your Co-founders, partners, employees?
- Srinath Vaddepally : CEO & Founder
- Ameya Bhat : VP of Product & Operations
- Jean Marie : VP of Business Innovation & Strategy
- Yicheng Bai : VP of Technology
Who funded/invested in RistCall so far?
To date, $500,000 has been raised from the following investors: Dreamit health accelerator, Zeroto510K accelerator, BenFranklin Technology Partners, CMU Open field entrepreneur fund, Cirquare LLC and friends and family.
What have been the greatest challenges to your business’ success so far?
Introducing technology (wearables) into a highly regulated environment such as healthcare is always a challenge. We have to ensure FDA, HIPAA compliance as well it fits smoothly in to today’s healthcare setting.
What have been your greatest achievements so far with your business?
Product development was finished a while ago. We recently introduced this into a nursing home for trials, and we have significant improvement in patient safety and experience. More than 70 percent of hospital re-admissions have been reduced and falls have been reduced by more than 30 percent.
What are your short-term and long-term business goals?
- Short term : Be a leader in patient nurse communication industry
- Long term: Be a leader in wearable patient care and staff workflow industry
How did you arrive at UMass Boston and the VDC?
I was introduced to UMass VDC founder William Brah by CMU center for innovation entrepreneurship directors Lenore Blum and Dave Mawhinney.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Confirm market need prior to product development
- Recruit the team, who have passion for innovation and willing to work hard than just salary payments
- Understand that being an Entrepreneur is a lone journey
- When in early stages, look for intellectual capital than financial capital
The interview is also published at UMass Boston’s Entrepreneurship Club’s blog.