Older Adult Independence in The Age of Social Distancing with Carlos Montero-Luque, Co-Founder & CEO at Huginntech
Episode 595

Carlos Montero-Luque, Co-Founder & CEO at Huginntech

Older Adult Independence in The Age of Social Distancing

In these trying times, we look forward to the care and support we receive from family and friends. Can you imagine how having such a tight-knit and loving support would do to elderly people?

In this episode, we are happy to host Carlos Montero-Luque, who runs Huginntech, a company dedicated to ensuring families can support their elderly loved ones with their health and independence. Carlos talks about the origins of the company and how they leverage technology to get involved in the support and care for elderly adults. He also shares the benefits of Huginntech to different stakeholders.

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Older Adult Independence in The Age of Social Distancing with Carlos Montero-Luque, Co-Founder & CEO at Huginntech

Episode 595

About Carlos Montero-Luque

Carlos is an I.T. Executive with years of experience in enterprise software and a graduate of MIT. He’s educated at the Harvard Business School. Previously, Carlos was Executive Vice President at Interlinks and ran an engineering and product organization at several successful startups and public companies.

Older Adult Independence in The Age of Social Distancing with Carlos Montero-Luque, Co-Founder & CEO at Huginntech transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

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Saul Marquez:
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Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast, Saul Marquez is here, and today I have the privilege of hosting Carlos Montero-Luque. He’s an I.T. Executive with years of experience in enterprise software and a graduate of the MIT and educated at the Harvard Business School. He runs Huginntech, a company dedicated to ensuring families can support their elderly loved ones with their health and independence. Previously, Carlos was executive vice president at Interlinks and ran an engineering and product organizations at a number of successful startups and public companies. Carlos, I’m so privileged to have you here today and I’m excited to hear what you and your team are doing to help us support our loved ones with their health care and their independence.

Carlos Montero Luque:
Saul, a pleasure to be here. Thank you very much. Look forward to that.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah, it’s going to be fun. So before we dive into Huginntech, also the origins of the name and everything that you guys do, we had a fun conversation before this everyone and Carlos will be able to share some of that with you all. What got you into health care and what inspires you to stay in this?

Carlos Montero Luque:
So health care is obviously very important not only to our economy, but to us personally. I also personally I think it’s a it’s a basic human right. But I also believe that society’s need to allocate resources wisely so that they can ensure the best possible health care for the people, maximizing the outcomes at costs that do not make the system unsustainable. Whether the system is private or public, that’s always the same. So I think that there’s a role for technology that’s not news to anyone, but in collaboration with health professionals, patients and their families. And this is the area where I think we are adding particular value and of course, public institutions and private companies. The idea is, of course, improving outcomes and maintaining costs sustainable. So I got into health care and I got to say specifically because I saw this with my family as so many people that are trying to figure out how to insure that their older adults in their family are healthy, that they stay independent for a long time because that has a lot of benefits, both in terms of health and well-being and, of course, economic for them and for the system. So this is what made me passionate about this. This is why we started the business and this is why we are driving this as hard as we can.

Saul Marquez:
Now, that’s so great. And you mentioned technology is critical to get us there. And these times that we’re in, it’s that technology is helping us get through the challenges that we have, whether it be in the workplace directly or powering virtual visits. It’s certainly our managing medications, Right.. It’s certainly important and sustainability. And you mentioned that and it’s something that we have to be so sensitive about. So talk to us a little bit about Huginntech and how the business you’re building is adding value to the consumer and the health care ecosystem.

Carlos Montero Luque:
Yes. So I’ll talk a little bit about the name of the company.

Saul Marquez:
It’s a cool background. I love it. And I’d love for you to share it with us.

Carlos Montero Luque:
Yes so Huginntech. So it’s from Huginn, which is one of the two ravens that brought news to the god Odin in Vikings mythology. And the idea was that we’re looking for ways in which remote use or remote members of the family unit can actually be involved with their loved ones, regardless of the distance, the time zones, how busy their lives are, etc. So what we build is a mobile platform called Hawi and Hawi also has this origin. Haei comes from the concept, the notion of an extended family in Hawaii, which is not just the blood relatives, but also a community for a specific purpose, and that involves caring for each other. And in this case, the purpose is, as I mentioned, the health and independence of older adults who are living alone or couples. But but they have these units of this community that would like to be a better part of their lives. So in my case, for example, my parents lived in Spain. I was in Boston for many years. So three thousand miles away, my sister lives in Brussels. So, so again, far away. My brother was the one who is also a medical doctor. He was the one who actually took care of their health and supported them more. Even though we are a very loving family, we’re very close together, etc.. So as we saw it, we don’t think that there’s a real solution that helps families integrate and collaborate in an effective way to provide care and to be part of this chain of care that involves social health care system and other social services, etc.. So what we’ve built is this community, this Hawi which is a mobile platform. It’s really important that it runs on personal devices. That means that you don’t have to buy any additional devices. You won’t have to use anything that you need to be trained.

Carlos Montero Luque:
And the idea is that. By communicating, collaborating on tasks with daily tasks or tasks that they coordinate with health care, they can actually play this much more significant role with their loved ones in ways that they cannot do otherwise. So it is a platform that we create essentially a virtual kitchen table. We call it a virtual meeting place for the family, regardless of where they are. They meet there. They talk to each other. They think about it at the dinner almost, but where they can also do things like plan daily tasts that they can do themselves so they can coordinate with third parties and then they can also in coordination with health care, they can take some of the load of gathering political data or running some health tests and bring them to the home, discharging, for example, some of the costs of primary care and providing greater continuity of care because they have data that you can take on a daily basis or on a regular basis, as opposed to the next time you get to see the doctor. And then the family can also respond to emergency issues. So, for example, in an emergency, everyone in the family knows about it and then they can work collaboratively to actually work to to to support the older adults and make sure that they’re healthy, make sure that nothing bad happens to them. So this is a private network for the older of their family.

Carlos Montero Luque:
So it’s not a social network from that point of view. Somebody’s private to them and that includes the caregivers. That includes this extended family could be very close friends, neighbors with a reduced role that can knock on the door if something happens. And then the idea is for this to be successful in matters that both the older adult and the family can use it without disrupting their lives. This is also what was really important for us to get started with, make sure that in their own personal devices and that it’s very easy to use, it’s accessible and where the family really does not have to move to be with their parents or spend hours or or hire very expensive third party care to actually care for them. So we wanted to make sure that they could do this with as little dsruption as possible. In order to do this, we provide the tools that I mentioned and we also use machine learning. So machine learning, we use it for one purpose in particular, which is to ensure that we detect variations in the well-being of the older adults, whether there are variations that need to be noted immediately or their subtle variations on what their basic state was so that then the older adults and their caregivers can decide how to communicate that and what actions they should take for the with health care and with whatever services that are available to them.

Saul Marquez:
Carlos, quick question on that. So the with the variations, that’s really interesting, Right.. And there’s a lot around voice biomarkers or changes in responses or lag in normal responses. Like what data are you guys pulling? What are you looking for and what types of things are you finding or have you found?

So we’re starting essentially with my brother is a medical doctor primary care. He has a lot of patients that are in this age range. And he looks at the things that he thinks that are either basic data that he wants to get on a regular basis. I would love to have more data that is a specific conditions or cognition, et cetera. So we are starting with either questionnaires that can be answered by the caregivers or the older adults and data that it’s collected on a regular basis and marks things very simple, like temperature, which is now more important than ever, blood pressure, high rate, etc.. On top of this, we’re looking at doing fundamental analysis of the communications between the different parties in the network as they each other and look for other cognitive variations or emotional changes, things that may be worth noting. On top of that, as you mentioned, there is an opportunity to look at voice which would give us information about about the fate of a person, whether it’s an emotional state or and we’re looking at the other other mechanisms. But we’re starting with basic questionnaires and data that gets collected on a regular basis. And then we’re also changing how they get in and when and how, based on the conditions underlying the older adults as well as contextual data that has to deal with that. They just get out of the hospital, they have no symptoms, et cetera.

Saul Marquez:
Very cool. Now, thank you for highlighting that. There’s definitely a huge need, especially now with social distancing and everything that we have going on. So when you think about Huginntech and the platform that you guys are building, what would you say is that aha value that it brings to people?

Carlos Montero Luque:
Yes. So as I mentioned, the hole that we found in the solutions was the role of the families in the care of older adults. We saw the role of families massive, maybe one person, maybe more active caregiver, etc., or using less solutions, I mean, a feeling that I can’t get up. It’s interesting, but it was interesting 20 years ago. Are there things that you can do now that are significantly better than that and complimentary, but extend also extend that thought? So what we do is with our ha ha moment was to say if you look at the value that families bring to maintain health care to therapeutic compliance, like medication compliance, for example, if you look at the well-being, et cetera, the value to the older adults is enormous. There have been longitudinal studies over the years that say that when the families involved and the families are a positive force, then they’ll stay healthier. They live independently, longer than independent. Life is also a reflection of their overall health. And when they lose it, there is a higher risk of isolation, a higher risk of deterioration of their health. So this is an enormous value proposition for caregivers. Also, what we’ve seen is that, first of all, it’s informal caregivers, family members. It’s a population that is larger than it seems. And it’s also looking at their demographics, especially as you compare their cohort in terms of age, etc. They are out of the job market more they have more financial difficulties. They have more depression questions about them, anxiety and they feel that they’re not valued as much as others. So certainly if you actually can tie that up and provide this value to them as they find a family, an extended community that is supportive of them and also that provides the care for the older adults, we think that this opportunity is very significant finally for health care. As I mentioned, the ability to actually collect more data at the home and the ability to bring to the home some of the data collection that would be done in a clinic. You can actually avoid what called visits of uncertainty. Something’s happening to me. I don’t know what it is going to tell me, etc.. So something that you can actually do more remotely or you can collect data that you can say you to worry about these companies, et cetera, and you can prevent these compensations that can result in visits or in hospitalizations that unavoidable. Not all of them are. So we believe also there’s a significant value for the health care system in cost management and the better outcomes by maintaining the healthy stay for a little while, for a longer period of time.

Saul Marquez:
I think that’s great, Carlos. And as we all look to care for our loved ones in these trying times, it’s important that we consider the different options available. And how well are they integrating to the full picture? I’ve fallen and I can’t get up. It’s not enough. And the reality, Carlos de Right., we’re passive and maybe the one or two in the family that are a little more active. But then the resentment that happens when when that happens as well is very real. So how can we spread the love and also do it in a tech enabled way that uses data and keeps empathy at the center? If you think about any story in particular that stands out.

Carlos Montero Luque:
So it turns out that we have a lot of requests from family, friends. One of the things that’s been not surprising, but it’s been enlightening to me and also driving me to this is the fact that we’re describing here is actually something that is very common. A lot of people can relate either personally today or in the past, and some parents, some older adults in the family or they know of somewhat a neighbor, etc. when you actually have chronic conditions that are slowly evolving, like cognitive conditions can be muscular, et cetera. This is something where the care evolves as it goes along. So something that is maybe a little easier now becomes more complicated, et cetera. And we’re talking now a population also that after sixty five, the average of 20 years, then all those years on the average to be fully independent. And demographically, of course, this is moving forward the longer, more independence, etc. It’s a long period of time with the evolving conditions. So as you go along, people who have the mother of one of my wife’s friends or her mother possibly stage Alzheimer’s. So it’s something where she’s caring for her, but that evolves. There’s more worry that you have to be aware of how things are changing, etc. So as that change is evolving, the fact that you have multiple family members involved actually can make a big difference. The fact that you can share and collaborate and when you can do it personally or when you can do it via a third party that you put together the way that you hire, for example, to do to do certain tasks. So that is something where this whole family unit can actually have this role. And there are tools that the portions of this right., there’s What’sApp where you can talk to each other, there is Calendar solutions, et cetera. But what we wanted to do is to build a holistic solution where the collaboration, the communication and then the coordination with health care and other services actually comes together in a single place. So you don’t have to be running around and making phone calls and using this tool and then the other people don’t have, et cetera. So we wanted to bring it together because we think the holistic approach is better.

Saul Marquez:
Carlos, as you think about some of the things that you’ve run into and I feel like we learn more from our setbacks than our successes, it could be at your many executive roles that you’ve held previously, or it could be, as you guys put this one together. But what is that one setback that you learned so much from?

Carlos Montero Luque:
So I think I think the complexity of the system of the health care system and then also as you start looking at what an international company. So there are cultural, ethical issues. There are different economic considerations, et cetera, that you actually have to be aware of. So how do you work with a family in Sweden versus New England versus Spain versus the Midwest? It’s different how older adults receive or are open to solutions like this may depend on their cultural background. They may depend on their gender. There are studies in the U.K. about the best approach. The use with men who are only out there on their spouse died or because they retired, et cetera, and it’s different. So you have to be subtle about about how you address these issues. So they’re culturally correct and that they’re dealing with the social considerations and then, of course, the complexity of the health system. So those are things that keep us busy and those are things that actually matter for us. And we believe that a one size fits all service, I think that was a big lesson for us from the very beginning and something that we we are learning to address as we go along.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. Now, that’s that’s a good call out. And the pandemic is global. If the solutions that we build, if you’re not thinking at a global scale, it’s definitely potentially limiting to the growth that your company is faced with. So appreciate you calling that out. Carlos, what are you most excited about today?

Carlos Montero Luque:
I think the opportunity is just it’s enormous. I think we can make a big difference. I mean, I think I think that there there is, as I mentioned before, the feedback that I get when I talk to people about these things to be universally interested, clearly we have to prove the value proposition. We have to prove that it works. We have to prove that people want to use this. We have to prove that the economic value. But can people get the idea that that’s it is almost visceral how much people react to this? So that is a big driver for us. Then you mentioned the pandemic in your Right. has a lot of different impacts. One of them is economic course, making sure that we work throughout and we’ve been able to do that. We’re fortunate in the business we’re in, et cetera, but also what impact it’s having on adult residences over the residences, what’s what impact it’s having on that population in particular, what impact is having on health care processes. So one of the things I’m saying is that what’s happening in telemedicine, it’s been accelerated right.. So there’s some to and to actually provide solutions that we were going in that direction anyway. But I think that now, simply because of the complexity we’ve been treating people, is just driving this a little bit faster. For example, I told you, my brother is a primary care physician. He does house visits when he finishes the house visit. It’s COVID related. He can’t drive home. He can take public transportation home. He has to walk home and then get home or whatever. He needs to take a shower, change everything, etc. But it’s complex Right.. It was always difficult. Now it’s even more so. So the idea of doing both, of taking some of this care into the home, to have this communication with health care, to add to the solutions that are happening in telemedicine, I think this is something that the pandemic is accelerating. So I think that if anything else and more of an incentive to hurry up and actually bring the solution as fast as we can.

Saul Marquez:
Well said Carlos and it’s certainly challenging and you know, your brother’s doing great work and so are all the other health providers out there. So thanks for your listening. Thank you for what you do. It’s a challenging time. And so, Carlos, you and your team will be putting together, I think, something pretty amazing for us. So keep at it. Before we conclude. Leave us with a closing thought and then the best place where people will get in touch with you for further discussions.

Carlos Montero Luque:
Sure. So, again, let me finish with the pandemic also. I mean, apart from this accelerate utilization, it is I think it’s a reminder that health care is best approach as a common good by individuals and families, as well as communities and public entities, private companies as a whole. I think it’s too complex and intertwine to treat us like an optional benefit that is easily given up. And I think that the role of technology, together with all of these stakeholders, including the families, which I think is, is where our focus is this place of people not only producing better outcomes, but ensuring that we have to have the means to do it in a sustainable manner, which, of course, is important regardless of how the system works. And I can be reached at cml@huginntech.com Thank you very much, Saul.

Saul Marquez:
Thanks, Carlos. Appreciate what you guys are up to. And folks to learn more huginntech dot com. It’s Huginntech dot com. Carlos, thanks so much.

Carlos Montero Luque:
Saul, my pleasure. Thank you so much. Take care.

Saul Marquez:
Hey, everyone. Saul Marquez here. Have you launched your podcast already and discovered what a pain it can be to keep up with editing, production, show notes, transcripts and operations? What if you could turn over the keys to your podcast busywork while you do the fun stuff like expanding your network and taking the industry stage? Let us edit your first episode for free so you can experience the freedom visit. Smooth podcasting dot com to learn more. That’s smoothpodcasting.com to learn more.

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Things You’ll Learn

How to spread the love for older adults, do it in a tech-enabled way that uses data, and still keep empathy at the center.

Build solutions on a scale, so that it can be used in so many places all over the world.

Resources:
https://huginntech.com/