Improving the Ostomy Experience with Smart Technology and Patient Empathy with Michael Seres, Founder & CEO at 11Health
Episode 505

Michael Seres, Founder & CEO at 11Health

Improving the Ostomy Experience with Smart Technology and Patient Empathy

In this episode, we have an amazing conversation with Michael Seres, Founder, and CEO at 11Health. Michael shares his frustrations as an ostomy patient and how it led to the creation of a smart bag, how his company is helping patients live better lives, his struggles as he develops the smart bag, and many more. Michael also shares his insights on the importance of remote health, especially in this Covid19 era.

 

 

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Improving the Ostomy Experience with Smart Technology and Patient Empathy with Michael Seres, Founder & CEO at 11Health

Episode 505

Recommended Book:

The Gatekeepers

Best Way to Contact Michael:

LinkedIn

Company Website:

11Health

Improving the Ostomy Experience with Smart Technology and Patient Empathy with Michael Seres, Founder & CEO at 11Health transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

Improving the Ostomy Experience with Smart Technology and Patient Empathy with Michael Seres, Founder & CEO at 11Health was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best audio automated transcription service in 2020. Our automated transcription algorithms works with many of the popular audio file formats.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast. Today I have the privilege of hosting Michael Seres. He’s the founder and CEO at 11 Health. He was diagnosed with an incurable bowel condition, Crohn’s disease at the age of twelve. In late 2011, he became the eleventh person to undergo a small bowel transplant in the UK at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford. He started blogging about his journey through bowel transplantation and grew his blog to over ninety five thousand followers. He then used social media to develop a global online peer to peer community, multiple communities covering more than 20000 patients. Whilst recovering from his transplant. Michael invented the ostomy sensor known as Ostom-I Alert. And it’s just created an incredible amount of splash. And what we could do with ostomy bags. And then inspired him to create 11Health. The company, despite not having professional background in health care in 2014, he established elevon health in the US from a base in Orange County. And despite having cancer five times since his bowel transplant and recently undergoing a stem cell transplant, Michael leads the company day to day, pushing it to achieve fundamental change for patients. He is a thriver. Not just a survivor and also mentors patients and their families. He’s a published author and professional speaker. A patient lead at the NHSSM, I’m a facilitator for the centre of patient leadership. Need I go on? Bottom line, he’s a digital strategy adviser and a patient leader involved in creating and implementing patient engagement strategies via digital technologies to transform patient care. With that introduction, I am privileged to have Michael here on the podcast with us to talk about the work that they’re up to at 11Health to Transform Bowel Disease and the entire Ostomy procedure as it’s known to us.

Michael Seres:
It’s a real pleasure. It’s lovely to talk to you. I’m glad you’re staying safe.

Saul Marquez:
Thanks, Michael. And so, you know, let’s let’s dive in. And before we we do dive into the work that 11Health is is doing for digestive surgery and digestive health, which is very much needed. And I didn’t realize how big of a problem it was until after I got a chance to to learn more about the work that you guys were doing. You know, tell us a little bit more about what inspires your work in health care.

Michael Seres:
And for me, 11Health is really a personal mission because I’m one of all patients. I had Crohn’s disease, incurable inflammatory bowel disease from the age of twelve. An intestinal transplant patient and being asked to meet patients. And so, if you like, the inspiration at the beginning was how do I solve my own problem of leading this life? And what started as a very, very crude hack I sent on the bag, that would just be the bag was expanding or contracting as a field really was the genesis for 11Health.

Saul Marquez:
That’s amazing. And so since 12, you’ve dealt with this problem and, you know, would you consider yourself a bio hacker, Michael? In that respect, just kind of like, you know, hacking your own healthcare.

Michael Seres:
Yeah, I definitely feel I’m one of those that hacks their health. I think, you know, what do they say? Necessities often the greatest cause for invention. And I think at times you just try and solve your own personal problems. I’m just privileged that solving a personal problem has allowed me to now go in and solve some problems for other people.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. You know, and it’s it’s wonderful. First of all, thank you for sharing your story, Michael. And to hear about the patients and there’s many patients out there now that say, you know what, if the solution is not there, I’m not going to wait. And from dealing with diabetes to other chronic illnesses, this is a great opportunity. Your journey has turned into the creation of a really neat company that that is working to solve the same problem for other patients and the caregivers helping those patients. I love to hear more about how 11Health is is really adding value to the health care ecosystem.

Michael Seres:
So the key message, I guess I’d love to share with you is and it’s particularly relevant, unfortunately, in the covid era around collection of data to deliver remote patient monitoring. Obviously the use of telehealth, but the ability really to prevent a situation happening as opposed to react once that’s happened. And so the idea for me of building a smart bag, taking effectively a dumb collection vessel and integrating sensors so that you get real time data and then being able to remote monitor those patients, prevent them coming in, because sadly, patients like me are at our highest risk of readmissions about 30 percent of all patients get readmitted in the first 90 days. So it’s a high readmission rates. And by using data, by using remote patient monitoring through things like patient coaching program and then escalating through telehealth to a nursing program, we think we are doing and we have a clinical data to show it. We’re doing things that allow patients now to live a better quality of life in their home, but deliver relevant data to their clinicians in real time.

Saul Marquez:
Super interesting. Michael and some of the numbers are pretty staggering. Right.. I mean, we we all have an appreciation that chronic illness, chronic disease, managing that the health of chronic illness is kind of a lot of where our dollars go. And you call it a dumb bag. And I think that’s just like, let’s call it what it is. Right. And let’s improve on it. So so what makes what you guys do different and better than what’s available today? Maybe this is a great opportunity to share a story or even how to, you know, explain what how exactly this works and why.

Michael Seres:
Thank you. So in a traditional bag, if I can call it that, because.

Saul Marquez:
That’s nicer. That’s nice.

Michael Seres:
Yes, it is a collection vessel. It’s you know, if you have an ostomy, part of your intestine is brought to the outside of your body and you’re fitted with the bag and you poop in a back or urine is collected in a backpack.

Michael Seres:
The challenge with all of that is that you have no control over what comes out and when it’s coming out. So the difficulty you face are leaks, spills. You have no idea of volume. And inevitably, a acidic effluent that comes out. So you have huge skin irritation or wound issues. And I was experiencing that as a patient and I reached out on social media. I contacted about 20000 patients through various groups going. What do you do? How do I improve what’s going on now? And the overall message that came back was just get used to it. And as you rightly said earlier on in the conversation, patients in the end try and solve things for themselves. The different times you hack your own health. And my journey started on YouTube and eBay. I bought a flex sensor from an intent that we had glove and that’s great. And I taped it to the outside of my bag. And as the bag expanded, so the flex sensor changed and I could now alert myself as the bag was expanding. And if I win that forward to where I live in health is today, a sensor on the outside of the bag is is a great hack. But actually to be able to analyze what comes out of when it comes out to prevent the leak around the wound so that you could prevent infection rather than treat it after it happened was absolutely at the heart of what I’ve tried to do. And one of the 11Health is about. So we built this first ever smart bag. It functions, it operates. It looks like any other ostomy bag, except it has a bunch of sensors inside that extra data minute by minute. And then what we do is we send that data to the cloud and obviously connects with a very user friendly app, but it allows us to monitor increase in body temperature, increase in volumetric output and various other issues that we can then say to a patient. Okay, you’re trending your volume output is trending up. It’s you’re going to get over a liter, for example, of output a day, which is going to cause dehydration and kidney injuries. Why don’t we need to the now and that’s really how 11Health exists. And we use patients as fully trained and qualified health coaches. So we buddy you up when you’re a brand new patient with somebody that’s got a shared lived experience. There’s been trained to manage you. And they are, if you like, the first line of defense in the first line of connection. And then if it needs to escalate from a patient coach, we have qualified nurses that can take care of that. And so it really is about how do you restore, in fairness, a bit of dignity to a patient’s life? Because this is a very unsexy condition in a very unsexy end of health care. If there is such a thing as sexiness in health care, but it’s it’s really about how do we support a patient on their journey? And how do we make it easy for clinicians and nurses to manage that patient?

Saul Marquez:
Mm hmm. Wow, that’s powerful. Michael and, you know, just thinking through the challenges and I mean, I could hear your frustration. You know, the leanness, the spills, the skin irritation. It’s just so much to deal with the fact that you have somebody that’s been there and done that as a coach is powerful. And then an escalation method where a trained nurse can can help with technicalities of caregiving is really a great approach to this. What are customers saying today and who typically do you guys partner with? I love to learn a little bit more about that as as listeners that are, you know, in the provider space, but also, you know, care delivery models, how they can collaborate with you if the opportunity is there?

Michael Seres:
Our initial focus has been very much on brand new patients. Patients that are having surgery typically in all Secretariat’s trial, colorectal cancer or inflammatory bowel disease. Those are the two biggest patient cohorts. And we start the journey by talking to the colorectal surgeons, the wounds to make constant nurses. And then we have a large direct consumer program, which pool runs online. And we look at brand new patients, sadly, in the US there are about 130000 brand new ostomy surgeries a year. What we we’ve done now, and particularly in the covid 19 era, if I can call it that, is expanded our offering to all patients in in digestive disease state or in the colorectal states, because our coaches and really for me, there are our unsung heroes because they are living in these lives. They come out of cancers and inflammatory bowel diseases and diverticulitis and other issues. They have the ability to coach really any one in the digestive disease space. And our nurses and we’ve grown on nursing program so that we can manage those patients. So I would say if you have a colorectal condition, you have a digestive disease state. And of course, if you’re having an ostomy, either you’re about to have one or you’ve recently had one. That’s probably the sweet spot for 11Health today.

Saul Marquez:
Awesome. So whether you be a patient about to go through one of these yourselves or you have a loved one, or if you’re part of a department that takes care of these types of procedures, being proactive with it, and then maybe as an extension to that home care, right, if you’re dealing with home care and you have a subset of patients that are ostomy patients, this is a great solution for you, as is. Am I off on that? So you’re willing…

Michael Seres:
You need to be doing my job. You do far better than I can summarize things. But yes, home health. Home care is very important for us because an awful lot of patients are discharged maybe to home health companies, skilled nursing facilities. And at the moment in particular, remote monitoring is vital to those patients. And you often can’t get the nurse to come into the home at the moment. So a digital solution, if you like, with a human touch to it is is gaining traction for us right now.

Saul Marquez:
For sure. Do you know the company Corstrata?

Michael Seres:
Yes, I do.

Saul Marquez:
So we had Joseph founder on the podcast. You guys working together already?

Michael Seres:
We’re no, we’re not. We’re not at the moment, but we are friendly neighbors, if I can call it that.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, yeah. Just kind of a sweet. I think for you both. And, you know, I mean, just the enablement of a solution like this to help home health providers and the caregivers that are working for these home health certified agencies is just incredible because without measuring, you really can’t manage these diseases. And what you’ve done with this is not only obviously the patient convenience and the patient benefits, but also the measurement aspect and the remote aspect is just amazing. What type of feedback are you getting thus far?

Michael Seres:
Michael, I’m privileged to say we’ve had some phenomenal feedback. We’ve seen significant reductions in readmission rates. We are we have a 95, 96 percent approval rating from our patients when they stay with our coach for the first couple of weeks. They then stay on beyond 90, 180 days. We’re a relatively young company, so I think our oldest patients have been with us for a couple of years. But we have a very privileged that we have a very strong patient base that supports each other and are seeing the outcomes. As a patient myself, I’m just surprised that something like 11Health didn’t exist before now. But you know what? That’s something that we can hopefully work on and continue to improve, that we can help more, more patients.

Saul Marquez:
That’s amazing. Good for you and your team, Michael. And you know, we we had a chance to connect here a little before the before the podcast recording. And you mentioned to me that you had the opportunity to meet Earl Bock and the founder of Medtronic. I think about that guy. He was, you know, lived a long life. And the products that he helped innovate were also keeping him alive. The pacemaker, the the glucose continuous glucose monitor, I mean, just like a number of different technologies. And you know what? Smart patients like you make markets. And so I want to just give you great kudos for for the work that you’re doing here.

Michael Seres:
Thank you. I’m incredibly lucky. I have a brilliant team around me that have enabled this to happen. I’m just one person. But you’re right. Going back to back in. I mean, what an inspiration. What a story. If that doesn’t inspire patients around the world. I don’t know what else would.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah.

Michael Seres:
I think. I think. I actually believe that there are patients and caregivers as there are providers action solutions every day. Not all of them necessarily are scalable or need to be scaled, but we spend a lot of our days trying to solve personal problems. I’m just one of the privileged few that’s been able to take that onto another another level. And as you said, it’s people like, oh, that are really the inspiration behind all of that now.

Saul Marquez:
And, you know, Bock when they were kind of starting off, Medtronic put the pacemaker. His partner, Hermann’s Lee was his son, had a lot of heart conditions, you know, and I personally benefited from the pacemaker. So there’s no bigger driver and motivator. Like you said at the beginning of our podcast to innovation than than necessity. And and so kudos to 11Health and Team for what they’re doing. The website’s 11health.com. Folks, if you are curious and at this point, if you’re not and be wondering because the work that they did is pretty, pretty impressive. So, Michael, not every thing that happens that’s great happens without setbacks. So the listener base is always intrigued then, as am I. You know, maybe a setback that you’ve experienced thus far with the company and something that you guys learned through that that’s made you guys stronger.

Michael Seres:
Great question. And I was thinking I’ve been thinking about that quite a lot, particularly at the moment, what you question every decision you’re making. I think the biggest I would say the biggest success is almost been our biggest failure. So I have been very much wedded to putting out a product and learning from it. Providing obviously we don’t cause any harm or any any issues, but putting a product out there, putting it in the hands of patients and providers. And if it goes wrong, learn from it. I think the biggest mistake that we made very early on is producing a product that patients wanted, but really meant that we had to change the workflow of nurses and providers to integrate it. And that’s not a good thing. We needed to make that seamless. We shouldn’t be a company that’s adding to the workflow and adding to the workload. The idea is that we can reduce it and we didn’t think that through properly at the beginning. For example, our first generation bag had a hub that you needed to charge and it was fine to charge it in the patient’s home. But when they were in the hospital, nurses would inevitably forget or, you know, power outlets are a premium in a hospital room and we would take up one for a few hours. And we realized, you know, we may have got a bag. Right. But the usability was was wrong. And so we went away. We a little bit of humble pie, and we were able to create a user experience to remove the hub and meant that when you are changing your bag or when a nurse is helping you change a bag, it’s no different to any other bag. The fact that it’s got technology in it was irrelevant. And I think that was a big lesson because we started to gain some traction. We started to gain some momentum and then we had to pull back on it. It cost us a few months, without a doubt, but we learned from it.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that’s a great learning. You’ve adapted and so is the bag now. So you went from a rechargeable bag to a I guess a bag with a battery finite battery amount that you just swap out for a new one.

Michael Seres:
Yeah, we absolutely. And even then we you know, we’re looking at ways now, for example, of how could we replace the battery and create energy in a different way so that we can become even more eco friendly, but a stable product that is working well. So I don’t want to get too much today.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, I totally agree. Fascinating work, Michael, and kudos to you and your team for for figuring that shift and making it user friendly. You know, it’s those technologies and solutions today that keep all of the healthcare stakeholders in mind that succeed. And and help is proving to be friendly for patients, nurses, doctors in both home and and acute care settings. So just never easy to do, but important to do. What what would you say is the thing that you’re most excited about today?

Michael Seres:
I think and sadly, health care doesn’t make great changes on its own. Sadly, it takes a crisis or a big moment in time for change to happen. And we’re going to get through Covid-19, where there’s gonna be pain, there’s gonna be suffering. But we’re gonna get through it because we’re all stronger together. And when we come out the other end, I think health care has changed forever. So the ability for remote patient monitoring, for telehealth to become the norm as opposed to a nice to have, I think is there forever the ability for us to talk to patients maybe beyond a traditional state line, I think has changed. And I believe, therefore, at this moment in time today, for however long we are in this difficult scenario, and once we get through it, the value to health care and the lessons learned to healthcare, I think are incredibly exciting and I think transformative in healthcare. And I think this could see a revolution in terms of how we can treat patients, how we can predict problems happening rather than react to them. And ultimately, I hope, also drive down the cost of care because it’s much cheaper to treat somebody remotely and through telehealth than it is bringing them into the hospital in an outpatient clinic setting, etc.. So despite what undoubtedly, incredibly challenging times, I think we are about to enter a really interesting and exciting phase of healthcare.

Saul Marquez:
I could not agree with you more, Michael. It’s certainly transformative. And you know what’s interesting is, you know, you said the word transformative and I and I and I love that as we’ve been dealing with this Covid-19, I’ve been hearing a shift in the broader ecosystem. The word disruptive has not been used as often. The word that I continue hearing more and more as transformative and disruption happens and ends and things continue. Transformation stays forever. And I think I just wholeheartedly agree with with what you said. We will be entering into a post Covid-19 world that will be transformed for the better for all of us. If you you know, you’re a very thoughtful guy. I’m curious, what are you reading and would you recommend any books to to our listeners?

Michael Seres:
Yeah, absolutely. I tend to have a very bizarre mix of books. I actually do one at the moment, which is about the history and the different types of chiefs of staff in the White House. And there are a couple of books around the chief of staff at the moment. The one I’m particularly reading is called The Gatekeepers, his bio and also Chris Whipple and it takes the different types of chief of staff and the roles that they play from early days in terms of Gerald Ford. It’s an Right. through to where we are today. And there’s a little bit around President Trump, but it’s takes you right up through to the end of President Obama’s era. And I’m just fascinated by by that. I love politics. I’ve got an interest in it. So anybody is interested in it? Got a political interest. Does it matter which side of the fence you’re on? It’s a fascinating read. It’s also a very good learning book from a business perspective.

Saul Marquez:
What a great recommendation, folks. You know where to go. Outcomes rocket that health in the search bar type in 11Health. And you’ll see our full podcasts show notes there with with Michael and as well as transcript links to the book, links to 11Health.com. That’s the place to go far. The rest of this podcast. Here we’re about to conclude. So just incredible interview today. Michael, I love if you could just leave us all with a closing thought. And then the best place for the listeners could continue the conversation with you.

Michael Seres:
I think the most important message is that we shouldn’t lose sight of today. In today’s world is about staying safe and staying well. And, you know, I really wish all the listeners health and strength during these difficult times. But I guess as I as I said to you a bit earlier, we will get through this. We are going to get through this. We’re stronger together if any of your listeners want to a four minute piece of inspiration. Listen to the Queen of England speech that she gave over the weekend, truly inspiring about coming together and getting through this. And once we do. Healthcare is changing. I will continue to change, and actually I think we will merely see a shift, a transformation in how we look off to people. And by people, I mean all nurses, are doctors, surgeons as well as patients and caregivers and loved ones. So I think it would be prudent for me in the current climate to just leave a message of please stay safe and well. And if you want to continue the conversation, you can reach me on Twitter at @mjseres and come to the 11Health website. I’m also on LinkedIn, as Michael Seres. And you’ll find me.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding, Michael. Well, I hadn’t seen that video. So thanks for that homework assignment, folks. If you get a chance, I’m always up for inspirational pieces. And during this time, every little bit of inspiration helps. So I appreciate that and also congratulate you guys for the work that you’re doing there. And I invite anybody listening to this to take take Michael up on on chatting via Twitter, but also checking out their website at 11Health.com. So, Michael, just want to say thanks again for the work you’re doing and for sharing it with us.

Thank you so much for inviting me. Stay safe yourself and look forward to keeping in touch.

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