Omron Healthcare is one of the leading companies within the blood pressure monitoring space, but hasn’t been content to rest on its laurels.
The company has continued to innovate through partnerships that driven new lines of business and new products meant to bring Omron closer to its overarching goal of reducing heart attacks and stroke.
One of the Omron’s recent key product development collaborations has been with AliveCor, the Mountain View-based company known for their line of portable EKG Monitors.
The company co-led AliveCor’s $30 million Series D funding in 2017 and Omron Healthcare CEO Ranndy Kellogg sits on the startup’s board of directors. While early efforts served to integrate AliveCor EKG data into Omron’s cardiac health app, the two companies released their first hardware collaboration this month.
Omron’s new Complete device serves as both an at-home blood pressure monitor as well as an EKG monitor to provide a more holistic picture of a person’s cardiac health. In order to steer away from data overload, Omron allows the healthcare provider or clinician to set up parameters with when they’re notified about a patient’s health status.
“We work with physicians to find out what data they would like to see and how would they like to see it and we know they don’t want all your blood pressure readings and they don’t want all your EKG readings, so we can help triage what readings you get,” Kellogg said during an interview at the AdvaMed Digital MedTech Conference in San Francisco.
“It gets them more involved in the process so now they’re actually wanting to see the data as it enables them to better treat the patient and then obviously get paid for that work that they do.”
Eventually, the hope is to integrate Omron’s readings directly into the EHR to create even more seamless data sharing.
Earlier this year the company began selling its HeartGuide smartwatch, which retails for $500 and has the ability to measure blood pressure through the wrist, as well perform fitness and sleep tracking functions.
Kellogg said the smartwatch was an important step for the company in responding to customer demand and removing the stigma and burden to regularly check blood pressure among high risk patient populations.
According to Kellogg demand for the product has been strong, and the company has been playing catch-up with manufacturing, as evidenced by the projected September shipping date for new units on the company’s website.
The HeartGuide put a new medical-grade wearable on the market with a differentiated feature set outside of the scope of wearables manufacturers like Apple, Garmin and Fitbit. It also creates a more consistent health touchpoint with users, leading to new potential business opportunities.
On this end, Omron may look to Fitbit as a potential model. Under competitive pressure, the wearables company has tried to diversify its business model past device sales and into more recurring revenue sources like health coaching and health data analytics services.
The company’s Fitbit Care business line pairs on body wearable sensors with human health coaches to help users meet fitness and health goals through in-app, over the phone and in-person meetings
Kellogg said with its new wearable product, Omron is also weighing potentially developing their own health-oriented service models. Currently, Omron partners with other chronic disease management companies like Livongo, Omada and Lark as they’ve moved into hypertension.
“We are absolutely looking at whether there are new service models we should bring forward and have pilots at several institutions to see what might work,” Kellogg said.
The company has also benefited from increasing reimbursement for chronic care management, which has driven the use of their products as remote monitoring devices.
Kellogg said the next-generation of the HeartGuide watch would take a page from the Complete and incorporate the ability to perform EKG as well as more advanced sleep tracking features.
“At the top of our list is EKG or rhythm issues. There are other issues within that realm that you could detect. For example an electrophysiologist might want some specific heart rate measurements alongside an EKG,” Kellogg said.
The entrance of traditional consumer technology players into the medical monitoring and healthcare space could pose a challenge for incumbents like Omron, but Kellogg positioned the company’s knowledge of the regulated space as one competitive advantage, alongside its lower price point.
“We welcome them coming in and it certainly draws attention to the market and the category. Our sales go up every time they make an announcement,” Kellogg said.
“We have to make sure as an industry though that all these products are really medical devices. We strongly believe that they all should be FDA reviewed and cleared or PMA or something, so that the consumer and the physician can trust the information they get from them.”
Another collaboration has been with Amazon to integrate Omron health functionalities into the company’s Alexa system.
Kellogg said the company considers the voice-enabled features – which can be used to set reminders and highlight higher than normal readings – as a product differentiator and eventually as a possible pathway toward a full remote monitoring system.
“Our real initiative is in partnerships. How do we partner more with other companies to allow sharing of data to give a better picture of the consumer’s health?” Kellogg said.
“We know we can’t bring in all the data, so if there was a condition that required your blood glucose, could we partner with Medtronic for example and bring in the blood glucose data into our app and present in a way that allowed the patient to take action that they might not have taken before?”
Picture: Omron Healthcare