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Peace of Mind with Epilepsy

Episode 418

Recommended Article:

Why Doctors Hate Their Computers

Best Way to Contact Chelsea:

ct@empatica.com

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Mentioned Link:

Empatica

 

Peace of Mind with Epilepsy with Chelsea Trengrove, Program Manager at Empatica, Inc. transcript powered by Sonix—the best audio to text transcription service

Peace of Mind with Epilepsy with Chelsea Trengrove, Program Manager at Empatica, Inc. was automatically transcribed by Sonix with the latest audio-to-text algorithms. This transcript may contain errors. Sonix is the best way to convert your audio to text in 2019.

Welcome to the Outcomes Rocket podcast, where we inspire collaborative thinking, improved outcomes and business success with today's most successful and inspiring health care leaders and influencers. And now your host, Saul Marquez.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast. Today I have the privilege of hosting Dr. Chelsea Trengrove. She is a PHD in Bio Pharmacology and Neuroscience. Currently a program manager at Empatika focused on innovation through collaboration. Empatica is an M.I.T. Media Lab spinoff emphasizing the use of sensor data to inform patient health and wellness and daily life. Their first focus is epilepsy. Chelsea's background in pharmacology and biochemistry allows her to take her insights with the intersection of neuroscience to come out with some great solutions. She did all of this at Boston University prior to Simpatico. She worked internationally in the pharma and biotech industries, assisting companies to build external collaborations, aligned processes and incorporate FDA guidelines. We all know is hyper important. An advocate for health and wellness. She's also a black belt and daily practitioner of Aikido, a martial art. So with that, I want to give a very warm welcome to Chelsea to the podcast. Welcome.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Thank you so much, Saul. It's great to be here.

Saul Marquez:
It's a pleasure to have you here, Chelsea, and folks, Chelsea was at the TEDMED meeting that that Di also attended last year and talk about some brilliant minds. And I just thought it'd be a great opportunity to have her here on the podcast to tell us her story and what she's up to. So. Chelsea, what got you into health care?

Chelsea Trengrove:
It's been the talk of an interesting journey for me. As you mentioned, I started off in academia. You know, ever since I was five years old, I was actually super interested in the brain. I used to go on to the TV ROM encyclopedia that my dad got me over Christmas. And I used to read articles about the brain. Really ever since I was a kid, I knew that I was interested in science. I wanted to go into that field and being in academia, doing that teach in neuroscience was wonderful. I really loved getting to explore and investigate new areas, whether or not it was cell pathways or new molecules that could impact diseases. My case was specifically at neuro degeneration. I love that investigation, but it felt like a really slow process. It was very focused on one pathway at a time. And the research can take. I mean, it can take decades. You can spend a whole career for one line at a textbook sometimes. And, you know, some people have these incredible breakthroughs. Some people are just built for the research that I wanted to do, something that felt a little bit more impactful and collaborative. I love that the cell culture dishes that I was working with, but I did want to interact with people and feel like I was impacting that more on a face to face daily level. After I finished my pasty, I went into a consulting lab working, like you said, and pharma devices, getting to learn the new language of FDA validation and regulatory work, which is interesting. But I did miss the science, so I started looking around for new ways that I can still be in the med pharma world, but also get to sort of delve into science. And I found Empatica, which is doing some really cutting edge research. And I mean, both healthcare and neuro field is just really lucky to be taken on there as a program manager a little bit over a year ago.

Saul Marquez:
Well, that's a fascinating journey, Chelsea and gosh, the area of neuro degeneration, the brain, mental health, these diseases affecting the brain and nothing like there's no vital sign for the brain. Like there's a big gap there and also a big opportunity. Alzheimer's increasing year after year. What's your thoughts on all that? I mean, I know, I know. I just said a lot. But why are we trending that way and why not the other way?

Chelsea Trengrove:
What and what do you mean by the other way?

Saul Marquez:
Meaning better? Why don't we do better.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Well, I think the brain is really one of the final frontiers in away. And there's just so much that we don't know about it. And I think a lot of our focus is either in systems biology or really on the molecular level or cellular level. And I think it's going to be important to integrate these different sort of silos of science. But it's not going to be one answer on this drug or you just need to effect this pathway. So that's why I think this sort of movement toward big data and machine learning is you really are using sensors like the ones that we use in Empatica machine learning and genomics to really create a holistic picture of a program as opposed to just focusing down on one of these small areas. I think it's going to be really promising in the next few years.

Saul Marquez:
I love your your hopeful outlook there. And it's a great one to have, especially in the field and focus that you're up to. So what needs to. On the minds of health leaders agendas today and how are you and Empatica approaching it?

Chelsea Trengrove:
Well, let me give you a little bit of background on what Empatica does in case any of your listeners aren't aware of Empatica. So as you mentioned, we are a machine learning, sort of wearable, a company and M.I.T. Media Lab spinoff. And our first focus has really been on creating this small, beautiful smartwatch called the Embrace. And the way that it works, that has sensors that will monitor for convulsive seizure. It will detect a seizure at a user's wrist and we'll send an alert to a caregiver or text message and phone call with a G.P.S. location. So EMpatica focus has really been creating these sensors that will help create peace of mind in people's lives outside of the hospital, really give them the freedom to go and live their lives. So a big focus has been machine learning, but it's something that we've encountered is the importance of creating these systems, not just for the patient, but we need to find a way that really integrated health care system. And that's something that we've learned over the past few years, the importance of creating these platforms that aren't just only for the patient, but can also be used by the physician and the provider so that integrate into a meaningful way into the healthcare system.

Saul Marquez:
Well, I think it's a really important connection to make. You know, you reference the siloed nature of even brain research. This expands even to two point solutions and solutions that we could offer to improve outcomes. It'd be interesting to hear from you Chelsea something that you and the impact team have done to create results and do it better by thinking differently.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Yeah, I think something that we really had to focus on the most of Empatica is where a bunch of data scientists and engineers who are developing the technology for people who are living everyday with epilepsy. So something that we've really needed to focus on and that is to help improve what we've created is working with patients, with people who have epilepsy to improve the product. So now just assuming that we'll know what's that working with them to improve our algorithm that is detecting seizures that are going to be the most impactful in their life. So for us, it was not focusing on every type of seizure, but looking directly at convulsive seizure at the time. One of the most dangerous types of seizures, if not the most dangerous. They're really just sort of reiterating on the device with the people that are really in the weeds of having that disease as part of their daily lives.

Saul Marquez:
It's great that you guys are doing that. There's so many people looking for solutions and such a smart group of people working on a single problem. I mean, there's so much power and focus just.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Thank you

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it's just incredible that you guys are so aligned with this single problem. I mean, you share with me your you're in D.C. right now for an epilepsy meeting.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Yeah, I'm. I'm here for the National Epilepsy Walk in D.C. That's actually on the National Mall. And it no families from all over the US that gather together to raise money and awareness for epilepsy, really to help try and do stigmatize the disease and focus research on our focus money on research to help find a cure, but also to improve the lives of people living with epilepsy, not just on. We're not just focused on caring. We're also focused on improving the lives of people that have the disease.

Saul Marquez:
I love that. So, so meaningful. And you're walking the talk, not just talking the talk. And that's really, really important in health care. So, Chelsea, what about something that didn't work out like, you know, I know hey startups deal with issues all the time. Is there something in particular that you want to share that has made you guys better because it happened?

Chelsea Trengrove:
Yeah, sure. And you know, the hurdle that we're all traversing and it's something that, you know, if I can prevent any future companies or ideas from going through this, I you know, I hope this helps. But I think that that Empatica we've been, we will be looking forward and pushing for this FDA clearance. So our device devices actually cleared by the FDA, the first respawn device, and epilepsy to be cleared by the FDA. Congratulations. Thank you. Yeah, with huge pressure on the team and really exciting that we can now get the fact the whole family. But what we thought is that going into it with that, we'd get the FDA clearance and that would sort of be it would be in the health care system, we would get reimbursement. And I think that that's something that we quickly learned is not how that works, that reimbursement, which is something that we're really pushing for this year. The long road. And you really need to set up your studies and your trials and your platform with reimbursement and how to integrate into the into healthcare ahead of time.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it's definitely a big thing. And you know, Chelsea. Feel like there's a lot of services and products that are on the periphery that can offer a lot of value that aren't necessarily in the reimbursement path, but creating models to address these exist. They definitely take time. And I mean, I think about population health efforts and value based care efforts that aren't really aligned to the reimbursement models. But when you find stakeholder, there's a way.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Yes. Yeah. So if anybody knows, that includes where we're looking for the stakeholder. While there are a lot of great advice out there and now, of course, we've tried to keep the embrace, watch a low price point as possible to keep the company running and getting it to the people who is impacting it. It's really frustrating for us when we have people that are coming to us and saying, look, we can't afford this device. It really breaks our heart when we can't get it to everybody. So there are models about reimbursement, but we just know that this is a way to really get it to people that anyone who needs a device for monitoring seizures.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, now that's a great call out. And folks, if you're listening to this and you have an idea or a partnership opportunity where something could work out definitely at the end of the podcast. Chelsea will provide the best way to contact her or the company and hey this is why we do what we do. Connecting the silos in solutions through the podcast. So what about the other side of the coin, Chelsea, what's been one of your most proud moments there at Empatica?

Chelsea Trengrove:
Oh, my God, there are so many. We are really just seeing where this. So as I said, I've been here for a little bit over a year and I find a lot of time going through a lot of these conferences and events and meeting with families who are actually using our device. And it's incredible to see the impact that it made makes. You know, after eight clearances, the family, it's the moms that come to me right now. I haven't been able to sleep for the past 10 years because I'm terrified my son is going to have a seizure in the middle of the night. I have to sleep in a real mess. This is the first having my life that I've been able to get a good night's sleep and now let him sleep in his own room and know that if he has a seizure, I'm gonna get alerted and know I'll be there for it. Those moments are pretty incredible.

Saul Marquez:
That is incredible. And if you don't mind me asking, can you share how much it costs?

Chelsea Trengrove:
So the devices $249 the embrace watch. And there's a monthly subscription that comes with the alerting services. So the lowest one is ten dollars a month. So like I said, you kind of keep it low. And it's why

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, that's super reasonable.

Chelsea Trengrove:
One to make it as low as possible for people. So that's why the reimbursement focus.

Saul Marquez:
Very good. Very good. Now. Now, you know, this is key. And gosh, I mean, when you think of of items from the perspective of a medical device standpoint, it's super affordable.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Yeah. And actually, it's interesting because that's been potentially one of the issues with reimbursement. They say it's so inexpensive. Why should we? Why should we reimburse that, which is…

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, something else I'm telling you. But you know what? The stories are there. You guys continue to find ways to make it better. And you're engaged in the patient groups and the policy groups and the technology groups I know that are solutions around the corner. So keep doing what you're doing. It's so, so impactful.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Thank you.

Saul Marquez:
So this is great. And so now we're we're at the point of the podcast, Chelsea, where Right. where we do the Lightning Round. So I've got a couple questions for you there, followed by a book that you recommend to listeners. You ready?

Chelsea Trengrove:
Sure.

Saul Marquez:
OK. What's the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Chelsea Trengrove:
I think I touched on this a little bit already. But I think, you know, I love when companies say that the number one focus is the patients that that really should be the patients. But I think really heading up the triad of patient and provider and the payer is really important. So without it being able to go to the payer, sufficient provider and the patient, you know, you can hit one of those things. But if you're not targeting all of them, your system isn't going to go forward. So I think really having the focus of creating a platform that may be usable for everyone is an important focus.

Saul Marquez:
It's huge. And what's the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Chelsea Trengrove:
I think we backed off of that. But developing for a silo, so just developing one of those branches, it's a starting place. But I think that you really need to have the foresight of where that platform is going to go moving forward and also not make any assumptions that definitely don't make assumptions that this is going to work out like this. It makes logical sense if you really need to do your research.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, makes a lot of sense. And how do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

Chelsea Trengrove:
Yes.

Saul Marquez:
Exactly.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Every. Yeah. And we're so in the weeds of that, everyone. Talking about innovation, that really is how you can keep pushing forward if you have some product that you're sitting on for a while. It's not. I mean, there's always more that you can improve on. So for us to constantly be looking at what's next, how can we make this better? Who can we work with to expand this platform in a way that also does constantly look to what's next and how you can make it better?

Saul Marquez:
What's one area of focus that drives Empatica, Chelsea?

Saul Marquez:
Ok. So I know I said that you need to focus on patient provider payer, but for us, I think really the most important focus for us is is creating a technology that's going to create meaningful change in our users lives. I think empathy is really the main focus of Empatica creating. And that's actually where the name impact come from. And we're based in Milan, Italy and Cambridge, Massachusetts. And the name and product coming from the Italian word for empathy.

Saul Marquez:
Love that. What a great way to encapsulate the mission. So these next two or more on a personal note, Chelsea, what's your number one health habit?

Chelsea Trengrove:
My number one habit. You did allude to the fact that I am a black belt. I'm pretty addicted to Aikido, so I try and practice every day. That's a lot of fun. And I think, you know, getting out and doing something like that is important to you to keep you thin.

Saul Marquez:
Wow. That's awesome. Congratulations on the black belt. That's incredible. And what is your number one success habit?

Chelsea Trengrove:
I think especially working in these small companies, work life balance can be a challenge. I think really taking time for yourself and making sure that you're eating well and sleeping really lends to success. So taking time for yourself and making and checking in with yourself, make sure that you're doing well, because if you're not, you can't help other people.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Beautifully said. Totally agree with that one. Got to carve out time for yourself. And what book would you recommend to the listeners?

Chelsea Trengrove:
Chelsea I've been woefully inadequate at catching up on books lately. I did start reading The End, which is a hugely popular in the past few years, but it's a pretty incredible book. I definitely recommend going at that. Lately I've been diving more into New Yorker articles, grabbing snippets where I can. So if I can give some recommendations for articles, I'd be happy to do that.

Saul Marquez:
d GrowtSure.

Chelsea Trengrove:
So one that was really impactful for me last year was by its local one day. It was sort of a macro overview of Why Doctors Hate Their Computers is what it was called, but it's about Dr. Burnout and the impact the springtime it's having on the doctors, especially for a Empatica it to be relevant for us because, you know, we're creating the technology that's going to be adding a lot more data that they can be looking at it. Right. is really important to focus on. Are we giving the physicians one more thing to look at or are we creating meaningful changes in the way that they're diagnosing and helping their patients disease? So it's a great article that I recommend to put together a high level overview of doctors experiences. And then there's two other ones that I've read recently. I'm not remembering the names of them right now, but one of them was on becoming a cancer patient that came out just a few weeks ago and another one at that psychiatric drugs overprescription and sort of the withdrawal effects of that. But I think that, you know, The New Yorker has some pretty incredible articles that are health care related. So if you can find those ones there. It's those are really more of an insight into people's lives personally. But again, we get to see that side of it.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. No, that's a great recommendation. First time The New Yorker has been given. But I think it's really great. Right. I mean, we have to take snippets where we can. And. Yeah, the nice thing about The New Yorker is that it's nice bite sized content. And let's… today. That's what a lot of us are consuming. So it's really great. Great.

Chelsea Trengrove:
It's my very millennial answer.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. I love it, folks. For all of the resources and a full transcript of our conversation with Chelsea Trengrove, you could go to outcomesrocket.health in the search bar type in Empatica or type in Chelsea. You're going to find all of the show notes and everything we discussed there today. So before we conclude, Chelsea, I'd love if you could just leave us with a closing thought and then the best place where the listeners could continue the conversation with you.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Sure. The closing know. Health care has been a seemingly slow mover and shaker over the past few decades. But I think that this is a time for real change with this sort of ad submission thing and big data I think it might be integrating more and more into all aspects of healthcare. It's moving so quickly that I think that we're all we're all in for a wild ride. So just stay tuned.

Saul Marquez:
I love that. And. Listeners want to learn more work, can they go to learn more about Empatica? Or continue to chat with you?

Chelsea Trengrove:
Oh, sure. Well, there's actually so you can always go to empatica.com to learn more about the two devices that we currently have. And we have a lot of new exciting collaboration actually with the government. We have an influenza forecasting project with HHS monitoring for respiratory symptoms and seeing if we can predict it before you're aware of it. And we also know that a NASA grant. So there's a lot of exciting research that's going to be coming out soon. So aside from just monitoring your news feed, you can get that come and to reach out to me and find me on linkedin or email me at ct@empatica.com.

Saul Marquez:
Outstanding. Chelsea, just want to say thanks again for sharing your mind on the work that's being done on epilepsy at Empatica. And I want to say thanks and continue the great work.

Chelsea Trengrove:
Thank you so much for Saul this was such a pleasure.

Thanks for listening to the Outcomes Rocket podcast. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.outcomesrocket.com for the show notes, resources, inspiration and so much more.

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