Entrepreneur of the Week: Ted Spooner, RespondWell, CEO & Co-Founder
We recently spoke with Co-Founder and CEO, Ted Spooner about RespondWell and the opportunity he sees in the 50+ market.
What does RespondWell do?
RespondWell has created a robust Telerehab solution that gives care teams the transparency needed to monitor patient condition and advance patient recovery. And along the way, we help empower patients to take control of their own health.
RespondWell’s Therapy@Home focuses on improving quality of life by speeding up rehabilitation with an innovative solution used from the convenience of the home. This product offers patients an online gamified approach to rehabilitation with on-screen digital instructors and incentives. It allows seniors who are recuperating from surgeries such as knee replacements or who are recovering from injuries due to falls to enjoy an adaptive experience that instructs, encourages and monitors progress to help track and accelerate rehabilitation. It also allows caregivers and physicians to remotely monitor patient progress as they improve overall balance and strength from their own home, while potentially reducing the costs associated with care.
Can you tell us about the Fitness@Home app?
Fitness@Home is a self-directed Telerehab app that empowers seniors to build strength and stability from the convenience of home. When physical conditions change due to a falls injury or knee replacement, recovering seniors stay connected to their provider with Therapy@Home – our prescribed Telerehab solution that enables providers to monitor patient condition and advance patient recovery.
What opportunity did you see that you wanted to address with RespondWell?
Falls: Every year one out of three seniors experience a fall with many leading to injury and loss of independence. Creating a falls prevention solution that seniors can use in their homes is a convenient and inexpensive method of improving strength and balance.
Osteoarthritis (OA): Over 27 million in the US have OA and over 50% of those with knee OA will undergo a knee replacement. We seek to help providers with tools to prescribe customized exercise programs to reduce OA debilitation and keep seniors independent and healthy with the use of our product from home.
Joint Replacement: This is an elective surgery for most seniors that is becoming more prevalent with the aging of the baby boomer generation. Hospitals are now under pressure to reduce the costs of a joint replacement or face financial penalties. This CMS bundled payment program requires orthopedic surgery Providers to accept patient outcome risk for hip & knee replacement surgery, effective April of this year. Our solution helps improve efficiencies and gives the care team a tool to help monitor patient progress, triage appropriately and assign resources to focus activity on high risk outliers.
What shortcomings did existing telerehabilitation apps have?
The biggest competitor in this space is paper – copies of rehab exercises sent home with patients that get lost and do a poor job of instructing the patient on performance. As a result, adherence to prescribed exercise routines has been extremely low, creating sub-optimal outcomes and higher readmissions. Video-based solutions are a step in the right direction. Our solution takes a holistic approach to engaging the patient with a friendly guide that takes the patient through their therapy instructing and collecting feedback along the way. Data from patient input, monitors, video and sensors are collected to keep the patient on track while patients experience a game-like environment to challenge and compel necessary therapy performance in the home. Two-way communication via messaging and video helps enhance the patient experience.
Who are your users?
Hospital systems, orthopedic surgeons, care coordinators, physical therapists and their staffs use Therapy@Home to prescribe, monitor, and communicate with patients and each other. Patients that experience a musculoskeletal condition like OA, a joint replacement, a falls injury, or even a sports injury can be prescribed content and access their prescription from the convenience of home. Also independent seniors and those who care for them can use the Fitness@Home app, empowering seniors to build strength and stability on their own.
How did you assemble your team?
In our early years the leadership team’s experience was concentrated on building and growing teams in the software and financial services industries. As the company expanded into healthcare we added management staff and advisors to include clinical expertise, healthcare payer and larger hospital system experience, expertise in the orthopedics industry, experience in large hospital system sales, revenue cycle management, and bundled payments. These additions were largely organic through relationships built in the Midwest over the last 2 years.
How has what happened with RespondWell differed from what you imagined would happen with RespondWell?
We began the company by creating the world’s first fitness game on the Xbox back in 2005. After success with multiple fitness game titles selling more than 3 million units in 8 languages around the world, we began to explore other options for our company assets. In 2011 we became convinced that the use of our technology in healthcare, specifically in rehabilitation, was a great use case for our technology given the shift in the healthcare industry to value-based care. Combining our assets with emerging sensors and wearables gave us great insights into how to better serve a population where adherence to prescribed activity is very low. We pivoted toward healthcare and are now exclusively focused on delivering solutions through healthcare providers that drive down costs, increase patient satisfaction, and improve patient outcomes.
What do you wish you had known before starting RespondWell?
Investigate partnerships sooner – great partnerships could be formed with large players like Philips Lifeline and Microsoft.
What most excites you about health tech for the 50+ market?
We get to help make life easier for seniors, get people back on their feet and engaged in the activities that make them happy. We all wish we could contribute to keeping our own parents and grandparents active and healthy for as long as possible. We are lucky to be able to do that every day for seniors across the country.
What is your best piece of advice for startups who want to include or target the 50+ market?
Instead of a shotgun approach, focus on one market and be great at serving them. This will help ensure you have the proper product-market fit.
Where do you see RespondWell five years from now?
A recognized brand name in healthcare with millions of patients using our system around the globe.
What health or wellness technology do you hope exists by the time you retire?
An disposable on-skin device that can monitor our vital stats and physical activity.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks for the opportunity to share!
Thank you, Ted!
To learn more about RespondWell and Ted Spooner visit RespondWell.com.