Ossia – Internet of Health (IoH)

In this health supplier segment, Hatem Zeine, founder and CTO at Ossia, a technology development company, discusses the Internet of Health (IoH) built from networks of Internet of Things (IoT) devices that could create a nationwide approach to the prevention and early detection of diseases using their Cota technology to build wireless powered products. www.ossia.com

Hatem Zeine is cofounder and CTO of Ossia, makers of Cota remote wireless power technology, where he leads a team of scientists and engineers engaged in developing new wireless power innovations. An accomplished inventor, Zeine holds more than 10 U.S. patents as well as 8 international patents. Zeine is also an industry thought leader, tireless advocate for the tech industry and recognized expert on the potential of wireless power. Prior to cofounding Ossia, Zeine was a principal software architect at Microsoft. Early in his career, he founded Zeine Technological Applications, later known as Estarta Solutions, now the largest systems integrator in the Middle East. He holds a degree in physics from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom and currently lives in Bellevue, Washington.


Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to the program today. I’m your host Neal Howard here on Health Professional Radio, glad that you could join us. I’m in conversation today in this health supplier segment with Mr. Hatem Zeine. He’s the founder and CTO of Ossia, a technology development company, and he’s joining us today to talk about the Internet of Health which is built from networks of the Internet of Things – devices that could create a nationwide approach to the prevention and early detection of diseases using their Cota™ technology. Welcome to the program Hatem.

Hatem Zeine: Thank you very much.

Neal: Give us a bit of your background and talk about this technology development company.

Hatem: Yeah, great. I’m a physicist by education and I started the company Ossia about ten years ago after the invention and discovery of a new technique that can deliver power to devices in the environment while maintaining safety and non line of sight to power devices anywhere in our environments.

Neal: Many of our listeners have heard of the Internet of Things. What is the Internet of Health and how does it relate to this Internet of Things?

Hatem: Oh great question. So when we look at, let’s talk about the Internet of Things in general. So we’ve always had devices that would be categorized as Internet of Things, anything from a motion sensor for your home security system to your even the steak thermometer that you may be using while you’re cooking a steak. So these are devices that potentially are collecting data or measuring something and providing you that information. Now the Internet of Things is the kind of saying if we connect all of these devices to the Internet, then we could have a way to share that information and utilize it for more than one thing. For example, your your motion sensor in the house for the home security system could also double up as being a the device that would switch on the light in a room once you enter the room and when you exist it could switch it off.  So the Internet of Health is the collective devices that exist in our environment from sensors all the way to devices like fridges and dishwashers and so on where not knowing how they operate and what they’re doing at all time,s it would be actually beneficial to more power efficiency to collecting the data that would enable a more healthy and secure life for everyone.

Neal: So basically a refrigerator could monitor a person’s heart monitor or something like that to tell them whether or not what they are about to eat was healthy or not. Are we talking that type of interaction?

Hatem: That can happen in the Cloud. So the idea is that if you have these devices collecting data on our lives today so for example motion sensors and wearables that we wear everyday, although they’re giving us details like how many hours you slept and how is your heart rates at this moment or something like that, or how fast you’re moving in your house could also tell us things about your health if we analyze that data in a specific way. For example, we could tell from your groceries even collecting what you’re buying and what you’re eating – we can tell the kind of healthy food and how it could impact your health. If you’re moving around the house at a slower rate than usual constantly that this could be an indication of something else. There are devices, video cameras and so on that can detect your gait, how you walk around the house or the environment and that could tell about your health in general whether you have any pains and so on. Analyzing your food and the use of the bathroom is also another thing that could indicate health matters. So the key is that once we have all these sensors and and data collections happening from the fridge, from the motion sensors, from our wearables and so on, that information goes into the Cloud. Now they once we have that information in the Cloud, we can build software systems that can utilize that knowledge while identifying the person, identifying their health, collecting that data over time and showing the kind of changes that are happening to our lives on a daily basis. Now it may not be obvious but a lot of the diseases can be diagnosed by understanding your heart rate over time, your motion, how fast you do things, just the general health and ability and mobility of the person can be great indicators for saying “Okay you need to go do this test now because there are signs showing that you’re moving towards that direction.” And this could save numerous lives just by early detection of stuff that we wouldn’t buy specific sensors for.

Neal: There’s a concern about misdiagnosis without the Internet of Health or the Internet of Things. With these two combined and say a physician can detect a disease early based on some of these other metrics, are we talking a total elimination of misdiagnosis?

Hatem: I don’t think that it’s possible to totally change something. There might be combinations and so on, we’re seeing things like for example IBM Watson used in health care, using the big knowledge of all the medical papers and published books and so on to be able to diagnose diseases. Now even then, its accuracy is in the high 90s that means that there’s still possibility of mistakes. But one of the challenges of the Internet of Health is that anything that we want to utilize as a definitive decision on our health needs to be FDA-approved since you couldn’t you  give out prescription medications without a proper diagnosis and the prescription medication taken to the wrong disease could be dangerous as not taking the right medication. So the thing is that if we keep thinking of the Internet of Health as a foolproof diagnostic, it will never actually be picked up on. What we need to do is sort of enable it to be a much software a kind of indicator of how we do things. Now the health industry is built around a very rigid professional approach to solving all the challenges. If we don’t enable startups and other companies to come in and say “Hey look, by analyzing your data I can give you some indicators. They’re not necessarily foolproof but they could tell you something when you should go to a doctor and get a proper diagnosis.” This ability to detect potentially things that you wouldn’t detect yourself can be great because for example cancer is one of the diseases that they say that if you can detect it, if someone can detect cancer, it’s already too late. But the Internet of Health could detect these things much much earlier before we ourselves can detect them and that could be key to enabling a greater health in our world. The amount of money that goes into detectable diseases that people don’t detect themselves, it can amount to a huge percentage of the spending on healthcare in the United States today.

Neal: Many of these things that we’re talking about are already connected, you can detect how someone is eating as you say through their credit-card purchases, through their online purchases, through their purchases at the pharmacy by those cards and cross-reference those with many other things – but what about the privacy? The Internet of Things is one thing but when it comes to the Internet of Health, are we talking about doing away with HIPAA standards since everything is going to be readily available to basically all healthcare providers with the just simple identification of a patient?

Hatem:  I wouldn’t say that we need to forego the safety and privacy of the individual. The key here is to enable access to some data under a secure level of data. For example, my health records are as precious to me as my emails in my private account so why is it that and I enable Google or Microsoft or others to actually own my online email account while my health records which are probably not as significant in some ways would be something that has to be more secure? So I do understand that we need to keep the health safe and secure but we need to start thinking about the cost benefit analysis from this perspective. The more secure we make something, the less useful it becomes and that’s something that we know very well. Not only from the IT world but also from our life in general. Like if I don’t want to die from a car accident, I should stay home 24/7 but I would have a much lesser life for that so that’s the key to what we need to do here. So we need to understand what are the limits and how can we provide the information so that we can start analyzing different aspects and many of the Internet of Health data doesn’t actually need to know your medical records. We can do this without anything, always we have to say is “Hey we think you may be at risk. You should go to the doctor and test for these things. There’s maybe a chance of this being correct, it’s known to be 47% correct but now that you have this information, it’s up to you to decide whether to use it or not.” So that kind of data can be fantastically valuable as opposed to the existing process that basically no one is doing. So the HIPAA rules can continue to exist while we do these other Internet of Health connectivity and analysis that are not related but putting them together can also create a greater self and perhaps that could be something that is available to the to the diagnostics at the doctor’s office or hospital, etc.

Neal: Where can we go and learn more about Ossia?

Hatem: So Ossia you can learn about it at www.ossia.com and we have all kinds of information about our technology and how it will go into devices. We also have a blog post that we post on about twice a month which has a lot of content around all kinds of applications. The Internet of Health specifically is something that we’re enabling through our technology. Although we don’t try to bill it ourselves as a health provider, we are trying to provide the infrastructure to enable such devices to exist.

Neal: It’s been a pleasure speaking with you today Hatem. I’m hoping you’ll come back and tell us some more as the Internet of Health progresses and expands.

Hatem: I would, it would be my real pleasure. Thank you for this opportunity.

Neal: You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at hpr.fm

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