How Remote Patient Monitoring Is Bridging The Gap Between The Traditional Office Visit and Patient Self-Care
I had the pleasure of interviewing Ranndy Kellogg, President and CEO of Omron Healthcare, Inc., the global leader in personal heart health and wellness technology.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Growing up, I wanted to be a doctor. Instead, I began my career selling pharmaceuticals and eventually moved to medical devices. Although my path to medicine took a different turn, it was during this time working on medical devices that I ended up spending as much time as I could learning from and interacting with doctors and hospitals and listening to their needs as well as their patients’ needs. Hearing from patients in that setting inspired me to make Omron Healthcare the “patient-centric” business it is today, always keeping in mind the importance of meeting patients’ needs with our technology. We’re not just manufacturing devices — we’re teaching life-changing behaviors that empower people to lead healthier, more productive lives.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
About 12 years ago when I first joined Omron, I was invited by the famous Dr. Mehmet Oz to come for an event in New York — his annual Healthcorps Gala. I was told by his team that I would be seated at a very special table. I was expecting that perhaps I might be seated at Dr. Oz’s table. Turns out, I didn’t even get a chance to meet Dr. Oz that night. The special guests I was seated with were the legendary NHL player Mark Messier from the New York Rangers and his entire family! The funniest moment of the evening came when Mark Messier leaned over and asked me if I had ever met Dr. Oz. I replied that I hadn’t. His response, “Neither have I!” We had a good laugh about that. Now, Dr. Oz and I are good friends and have worked together on several heart health initiatives.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
The main thing that sets Omron Healthcare apart is that we’re a company committed to better heart health outcomes. Our focus is the result for the patient, not just selling to the patient. We have made Going for Zero our company mission — the elimination of heart attack and strokes through public education, heart health advocacy and providing consumers with the best technology and tools for their personal heart health. Omron Healthcare has also changed the landscape of healthcare at home, by providing consumers the ability to monitor their blood pressure and heart health trends in their own home — something that could previously only be done at a doctor’s office. The regular monitoring we’re teaching helps patients know if the regimen they have been on is working and helps prevent incidence of heart attacks and strokes. It also encourages patients to use that data to have more meaningful dialogue with their physicians, who can help them interpret their trends and tweak treatment plans if needed.
Most gratifying are the calls, emails, tweets and product reviews we get from people who say our technology helped save their life or the lives of their loved ones. That’s why we do what we do.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
We are indeed! Our latest project, poised to launch later this year, is called the Omron HeartGuide and we believe it will be the future of blood pressure management. When it’s launched, the HeartGuide will be the first clinically-validated, FDA-cleared, wearable blood pressure monitor that has been successfully miniaturized to fit the form of a wristwatch. It uses oscillometric technology, which is still the only FDA-recognized standard for accurate, automated blood pressure measurement at home. Patented technology within the HeartGuide allows the band to inflate around the wrist to take an accurate blood pressure reading at the radial artery. This feature sets the HeartGuide apart from other wearables that rely on sensors to provide users with estimated blood pressure. When you are hypertensive, you don’t want an estimate, you want to know your actual blood pressure numbers, and now you’ll be able to do so, with a blood pressure monitor that’s now more stylish, portable and connected than ever before.
The HeartGuide encourages more regular monitoring — anytime, anywhere; it can even be programmed to take a reading while the user is asleep. In addition to blood pressure, the HeartGuide also measures daily activity, pulse and sleep quality, all of which are factors in heart health.
We are also preparing the launch of the first blood pressure monitor with EKG in a single device. Patients with irregular heartbeat, or arrhythmia, live with a significantly higher stroke risk and it’s been a challenge for them to properly monitor their condition. Having one device that can be used at home can make a world of difference for them.
Getting to EKG is another way we are expanding what we measure to give our consumers a more complete heart health picture. The ability to measure more data points means more data for doctors to diagnose, treat and achieve better outcomes. The data from Omron connected devices be easily synced via Bluetooth to the Omron Connect App on your smartphone or tablet — for ease of storing your heart health data, tracking it over time and sharing it with your physician. It’s just one way we are advancing our mission of Going for Zero. When more data is tracked and acted upon, it means we can make real strides toward preventing heart attacks and strokes.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
I would advise two things –
1) Listen — Really listen to what your employees and other stakeholders are saying. If you can really listen, you’ll learn very specific and poignant things about how your business can improve. The more you listen, the more you learn and when others feel you’re listening to them, they’ll tell you more. Not only will listening help your business to grow, it will also help your employees grow, as they’ll come to know that you respect their opinion, and they will, in turn, also become more purposeful about the feedback they provide.
2) Empower your employees — Empower your key employees to make decisions. Don’t make everything run through you, within boundaries. This helps to save time, and employees will become more critical of their decisions than even you were. Even if it’s the wrong decision, they will fail fast, learn from it and move forward.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
There are dozens. At every company I’ve ever worked at, I’ve always tried to find my mentor. The one person that helped me the most in my journey was a female mentor of mine. She gave me great professional advice and helped me grow as a manager. I still talk to her today and we bounce ideas off each other.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Because of our Going for Zero mission, every day I am reminded of the importance of the simple biometric that we’re measuring with blood pressure. I try to bring goodness to the world by asking people if they know their blood pressure numbers and talking to others about their heart health. My friends and family know that the simple action of checking your blood pressure can be done anywhere — even at a barbeque at my house! Spreading awareness of this message can save lives. Better heart health is within your grasp if you simply know your numbers and know the steps you need to take to be in control of your own heart health.
If someone I know has elevated blood pressure, I make sure I help them get a blood pressure monitor they can use at home and, if their numbers are high, encourage them to see their doctor. That’s why I work with Healthcorps, which is a non-profit organization providing teens with the tools to improve their physical and mental health, and the American Heart Association, helping people who may not have the resources to take care of their heart health. It’s so important to be able to share that passion with other likeminded partners. We can all work together to achieve Going for Zero.
Can you share the top five ways that technology is changing the experience of going to the doctor?
1) Making an appointment is now all handled electronically — Gone are the days where your next doctor’s appointment was scribbled on a little paper card that you frequently misplaced. Technology has made it easier for doctors and patients to keep track of visits and has resulted in fewer missed appointments.
2) Electronic medical records — In the same vein, patients’ medical records and insurance information are now all stored electronically and available to authorized healthcare professionals. This system has streamlined the process of record keeping significantly over paper records. Of course, improvements can still be made to enhance data compatibility from different systems, and the ability to triage the most relevant information that doctors see or get alerted to in their patient’s medical records.
3) Moving from ‘checking’ in the doctor’s office to ‘monitoring’ at home — You can now take your blood pressure at home, store your data securely, track it over time with an app, and share it with your doctor electronically. The same can be done with other vital signs like your blood glucose and respiratory function. Patients no longer need to wait for their annual or biannual doctor’s visit to be able to check up on their state of health or provide meaningful data to physicians looking to monitor the efficacy of a treatment plan. Understanding one’s health statistics is now available to every consumer with accurate personal health devices you can easily obtain over the counter and use at home. The power of data, and the knowledge of how to interpret that data has empowered the average consumer to have more ownership of their own health, more so than previous generations. This also provides doctors access to more real-time data that can aid them in being more reactive to tweaking treatment plans, resulting in better outcomes for their patients.
4) Patients will soon be able to have virtual doctor’s appointments — With more reliable ways to measure important health data like blood pressure at home, patients will soon be able to meet with their doctors for treatment either virtually or over the phone. Why sit in a waiting room full of other sick people? Unless there is a need for a full physical, technology will soon make it easier and more accurate for patients to provide all the rest of the pertinent information that doctors need remotely from the comfort of their own home, and physicians can follow up with electronic prescriptions as well.
5) Becoming more predictive of health issues before they happen — As technology improves, we are exploring AI and machine-learning in our blood pressure monitors. Imagine a future where you’ll get a notification from your medical device that alerts you when your vitals look like they’re not trending well. Your device could help you take the first actions to prevent a cardiac event. Software will become smarter, and soon, apps on your phone enabled by AI will be able to look at your data and come back to you with suggestions or predictions. The devices should be straightforward, easy to use, and designed to collect that data in the simplest and fastest ways possible — with the software to do the complex work of predictive analyses.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Everybody is always looking for what they call the “blockbuster drug”, the one magic pill you can take to cure every ailment. My favorite quote comes from my good friend and Director of The Scripps Research Institute, Eric Topol, M.D. who says:
“The engaged patient is the blockbuster drug of the century.”
As the patient, you know more about yourself than anybody does. You know your habits and you know what you can do to improve your health. If people were as involved and passionate about their health as their sports or social media profiles, we would all have much better health states. A lot of how healthy we are, has to do with our lifestyle factors, and all those things are within your control.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
George Clooney. He grew up in Kentucky and Southern Ohio, which is similar to how I grew up. I respect the way he analyzes current affairs and really puts his money where his mouth is. He’s a man of action. And he uses his resources and celebrity towards useful, productive causes, such as helping immigrants or working to eliminate hunger. He lends his voice to raise awareness on issues that are important to him. I admire how he pursues his passions and the impact he’s made on this world.