Guest: Dr. Mark Darrah
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: Dr. Mark Darrah is the owner and President/CEO of Athena GTX, Inc. in Johnston, Iowa, a certified DoD small business with between 25 – 30 employees. He has the primary responsibility to maintain profitability, grow the company and to coordinate technical activities and business development initiatives between various suppliers and in house in support of ongoing development programs. Additionally, he has the responsibility to develop potential new product thrusts, and teaming relationships involving both defense and diverse commercial interests. In this capacity he has completed work under Titan Corporation, EBTech, CSI, Lockheed Martin (LMCO), Red Inc., Transaero, Inc, and GEO Centers (SAIC).
Segment overview: Dr. Mark Darrah, President and CEO of Athena GTX discusses Athena’s WIMed, a non-invasive patient assessment system and enticing the medical community to try it.
Health Professional Radio – WIMED System
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. Our guest in studio Dr. Mark Darrah, President and CEO of Athena GTX. He is here today to discuss the WI-med system, a non-invasive patient assessment system and why it’s important that medical community at large give it a try and get on board with many benefits that accompany this new technology. How are you doing today Dr. Darrah?
Dr. Mark Darrah: I’m doing fantastic, how are you?
N: Welcome to Health Professional Radio.
D: Uh huh.
N: You know as President and CEO of Athena GTX, you’re involved in medical treatment in combat situations, in stressful situations not the normal situations that many of our listeners being healthcare professionals themselves are involved in on a day to day basis. You are involved in something much more reminiscent of Mash episodes in that type of environment am I right in that assumption?
D: Uh huh. You’re absolutely correct. That’s our primary market right now and we’ve just leverage that over in a new technology we call “Wi-med.”
N: Now this Wi-med system, talk about this technology. It’s a non-invasive patient assessment system. First of all talk about patient assessment and invasive patient assessment as opposed to non-invasive.
D: Oh, excellent question. Well a clear difference, the invasive patient monitoring would be actually doing something to the patient that penetrates them like an IV or putting in a catheter to measure blood pressure, intubating them to do oxygen, etc. What we’re doing with the WI-med platform which is short for “wireless medicine” is we’re providing a patient assessment tool that is totally non-invasive, it attaches to or onto the patient to obtain very unique parameters that allow us to do a complete patient assessment for the purposes of knowing what’s going on with the body.
N: Now when we’re talking about these invasive methods that the WI-med system basically does away with, we’re talking not about chemical detections or biological detections, we’re talking about simply those function of the body like you say breathing, blood flow, blood pressure, that sort of thing or are we talking about something even more advanced than that?
D: Well that’s a little bit of each. If you think about thorough patient assessment certainly as you mentioned we want to do breathing, we want to know how the lungs are working. The lungs are primary purpose is to oxygenate the blood, we also want to know how the heart’s working. So how well is the heart functioning on a timely basis to produce an oxygenated blood flow to the organ and then similarly as the organs and the muscles take in that oxygen they produce carbon dioxide which is returned to the lungs and the patient will breathe that out and we want to monitor that as well. So we’re monitoring everything about the functionality of that patient that does not include things like a blood draw or an invasive assessment – that is totally outside of flow.
N: Now is this you say you just leverage this technology into the WI-med system. Have you improved upon the original design of the system?
D: Oh absolutely. So let’s take this apart a little bit. So a wireless medicine platform that we create has a series of adaptable or modular component that allows the care provider to apply what he or she to the patient’s condition. That patient’s condition could be either a chronic long term issue like congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or even things like diabetes, but we tract that over time. The second component is tracking down information, we put it in to a HIPAA compliant database to allow a care provider to look at that data. And then finally we allow that data to be observed by a care provider that’s not with the patient. They can be remote and accessing an encrypted website, they can track that patient. So those components come together in the wireless platform…
N: And you did mention HIPAA compliance, are we talking about transmitting this information worldwide or regionally or in an intranet as opposed to an internet?
D: Right, we’re doing the internet but what we’re doing here is we’re encrypting and we’re using HIPAA guidelines. And if you remember we come from a world of Special Forces, so the idea of being non-discoverable is very important to us. The encryption is understood by the company and then the commercial world, a lot of people are struggling with that. But we leverage pretty effectively what we have done for the military over into this world. Any access to any website requires you to use a system and that’s one of the biggest growth there is as you know right now,
D: as it’s fueling the rapid growth in the telehealth is the fact that we have this internet or the internet … if you will.
N: Now when it comes to battlefield triage in medical treatment, using the WI-med system, are we talking about being able to communicate on the battlefield from point A to point B or does everything have to go through central location, located somewhere from the area of operation?
D: Excellent question Neal. So there’s two things about that, number one anything that we do for the military has to be self-contained. So there are times as you gonna well imagine that you cannot transmit, and transmitting would be equivalent to discoverable. Though in some military situations we have to be self-contained, all of the smart technologies that we put into the WI-med platform reside right there at the patient side with the medical requirements rendering the care. The same could be held true for the civilian world, there areas and from the… Island in Iowa, there are areas and remote island that don’t have internet connectivity. But in those cases we want to store that information until that link can be established… What’s different about WI-med is it stores the information waiting for the connection and then once that’s established it catches back up at a very rapid rate.
N: And are we talking about jumping from cell of tower to cell tower? If say in remote Iowa you’re traveling for hundreds of miles.
D: Well it could but it’s all seamless for the operator.
D: So once you’ve established that connection, it will transmit the information. For instance right now our technology is transmitting at a minute worth of data per second. So it doesn’t need a very long time frame of connectivity to be able get the care provider.
N: Now you mentioned the WI-med platform is adaptable to the civilian world just as easily as it services the military in combat scenarios. Now why is it so important that the medical, the civilian medical world get on board and give this a try and hopefully began to implement it much more in their practices?
D: It’s a change, we’re seeing a worldwide change right now on technology. Telemedicine is probably in some of the research that I’ve done, it’s probably the biggest trend in digital health that we’ve seen in this past year. For what’s viewing that I think is more important. So we know for instance that demand drives market, so we see physicians now that can offer a good experience using telemedicine such as the WI-med platform. So if they can have a good experience with it, they can connect with the patient, they can do much more than they’ve ever been able to do before, why? Faster internet connection, better software to do their video chatting, access consultations from anywhere. They can bring in peers for subject matter experts, on electronic health records, all this is exploding. So I think that’s driving the market but there is another thing here which I think is really important that people sometimes don’t see. What’s happening in the whole idea of connectivity is the fastest growing demographic for social media and use of the internet is the over 60 years old age group. They’re no longer technology adverse, these are people that feared cellphones 10 or 15 years ago but now that’s the group that’s really moving. So as they are no longer as technology adverse they’re starting to like the idea of not having the leave the house to see a doctor so that’s driving demand too. And the third part of that is obviously payment, there is so many states now with… rules that if you can render treatment to a patient like in similar to as if being there in person, we’ll go ahead and reimburse you for that. And I think we’re heading in that direction so those 3 things are really fueling the use of WI-med technology.
N: Great. And where can our listeners get more information about Athena GTX and the WI-med system?
D: Certainly on our website or I’m available anytime to fill in more details. We’re right now out in heavy beta trial tests and we have a lot of support for it. So we’ll have some great evidence-based medicine and outcomes…as well.
N: Thanks Mark. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard. We’ve been in studio today talking with Dr. Mark Darrah. He’s been here with us today talking about the importance of the WI-med system, this newly developed wireless non-invasive patient assessment system. Talking about the benefits and the importance that the medical communities, civilian medical community at large get on board to give this a try and begin to implement it in their practices and facilities, hopefully worldwide. It’s been pleasure talking with you today Mark.
D: Thank you very much, appreciated it.
N: Thank you. Transcript and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to our podcast on iTunes.