Teamwork: that’s the ticket to hatching patient-centered design

November 13, 2019 Joule Inc.

1-2-3-4-5…many expectant mothers are asked to monitor their baby’s movements by counting at least 10 kicks, flutters, swishes or rolls within 2 hours daily. This standard guideline for counting fetal movements is time consuming, and given every pregnancy is unique, it can be inaccurate.

On this episode of Boldly, Tamara Mason speaks with Jordan Lewis. She is a medical student at the University of Toronto, Joule Innovation grant recipient and co-founder of Flutter Wear. Flutter Wear―designed specifically for expectant mothers―combines a mobile app with a belly band sensor to passively detect fetal movements and move away from manual “kick counting”.

Lewis shares the story behind Flutter Wear from her original idea to flying to Hatching Health to find a team and how she hopes to continue developing the tool to support expectant mothers.

Listen to learn why Lewis created a device for patient empowerment, and how she involved patients along the way to make sure that happens.

tweetable: “Having the opportunity to learn more about the clinical piece during medical school has been really eye opening for me. It’s really exciting.”

Key Takeaways

Where did Lewis’ interest in the health of expectant mothers begin?

  • She has a background in reproductive and developmental biology through postgraduate studies.
  • She’s learning more about the clinical piece in medical school, which has been exciting.

tweetable: “I felt if we [the med students] were confused, I was almost certain that there were many pregnant women out there who were as well.”

Where did the idea for Flutter Wear come from?

  • Her second year in the OB unit, she learned about kick counting from a concerned expectant mother.
  • Her class also learned about kick counting as the gold standard guideline for monitoring fetal activity and she was surprised about their simplicity.
  • The guideline left many women feeling confused and anxious about whether or not their babies were kicking a “healthy” amount.
  • If other med students she knew were confused about the guidelines, she was sure expectant mothers were too.

tweetable: “We wanted to address this subjectivity, this onus that's on the patient's themselves, and try and make that a little bit easier and less of a burden on them.”

How did Lewis begin to address these gaps?

  • Given they were unrealistic for certain women, she got started with the guidelines and its’ weaknesses.
  • Since the onus is on the patients to count, she knew she wanted to make it easier for them with whatever she created.

tweetable: “When it comes to providing meaningful health care delivery, especially in the context of innovation, I think patient feedback and patient empowerment is a really critical piece that often gets overlooked.”

How is Flutter Wear looking to disrupt in this space?

  • They incorporate current technologies into their own wearable technology: a belly band to help expectant mothers passively detect movements.
  • They contextualize this data with that person’s specific pregnancy into a mobile app.
  • This helps prompt personalized tips to each expectant mother’s pregnancy.
  • They also provide these patients resources and alert them if they need to seek medical attention.

tweetable: “Something we really appreciate as a core value of our company is patient-centered care and contextualized user centric functionality”

What was it like getting feedback from patients on this project?

  • Patient empowerment is a critical piece that often gets overlooked.
  • By posting a user feedback survey in a Facebook group comprised of 80,000 women all over the world, they were able to gain valuable qualitative feedback.
  • One specific guideline won’t necessarily capture the specific experiences each expectant mother might have.

tweetable: “When we meet, and we get to hear each other's ideas and get each other's perspectives, it really makes for a really good team.”

What’s it like being a medical student and the Chief Medical Officer of Flutter Wear?

  • Being CMO, Lewis recognizes the importance she has and continues to have that patient contact.
  • Working alongside the other members of the Flutter Wear team is a highlight.

tweetable: “There's lots to look forward to, something about being an early stage innovation is there's always a big hill to climb with respect to getting our device out there.”

What’s the big vision for Flutter Wear?

  • The goal is to create a pregnancy companion.
  • Help women get in touch with themselves, their body and their baby throughout pregnancy.
  • Based on the feedback, they’re also looking to foster a sense of community through shared experiences.

 

Recommended resources

Life after the Great Hatch: Flutter, Personalized Fetal Monitoring System, a blog post by Hatching Health.

Latest trends in medical monitoring devices and wearable health technology, an article by Business Insider on wearable technology.

Digital Health Trackers Are Changing The Experience of Pregnancy and Motherhood, an article by the Medical Futurist.

The Health Care Benefits of Combining Wearables and AI, an article by the Harvard Business Review.

 

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Are you making waves in innovation or have a bold idea to share? We would love to hear your story. Connect with us at jouleinquiries@cma.ca to have your thoughts featured in a future podcast.

The opinions stated by podcast participants are made in a personal capacity and do not reflect those of the Canadian Medical Association and its subsidiaries, including Joule. Joule does not endorse any views, product, service, association, company or industry mentioned in this podcast.

About the author

Joule Inc.

Joule, a CMA subsidiary, is at the hub of Canada’s health care innovation eco-system. Having brokered key relationships amongst system players, we are able to identify, curate and create digital solutions. We empower the adoption of digital innovations that have the potential to improve access to health care for all Canadians.

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