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Improving Medical Training with Augmented Reality

Episode 367

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Improving Medical Training with Augmented Reality with Kevin King, CEO, MedCognition | Convert audio-to-text with Sonix

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Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the podcast. Today I had the privilege of hosting Dr. Kevin King. He’s the CEO at MedCognition. He’s an emergency physician and educator. He graduated from the Uniformed Services University and completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the University of Florida in Jacksonville Florida. Subsequently he served as the brigade’s surgeon for the storied Second Brigade 101st Airborne Division and deployed to Iraq. After the army, he joined the faculty at University of Texas Health San Antonio in the Department of Emergency Medicine. The PerSim grew out of his desire to provide realistic and affordable patient simulation for its students. So we’ll dive into what the PerSim that’s the name of their product. The P E R S I M and I will also dive into some of the ideas that Dr. King has around health care and emergency medicine in general. So Kevin, true pleasure to have you on the podcast today.

Kevin King:
It’s terrific to join you. Thanks for having me.

Saul Marquez:
Absolutely. Now that I miss anything in the intro that you wanted to share with the listeners?

Kevin King:
I don’t know sir it was it was very complete but I think that what is important for the listeners to kind of understand as we go through the conversation is that there is a large body of kind of experience that drove me towards wanting to start a startup in my mid 40s.

Saul Marquez:
And definitely looking forward to hearing that and also thank you for your service. We appreciate everything you’ve done on that front as well as now in your innovation and entrepreneurial stage.

Kevin King:
Well thank you.

Saul Marquez:
So what would you say got you into the health care sector to begin with Kevin?

Kevin King:
Well it goes back. I mean all the way back to even high school and college when I was just became very interested in medicine. I had I had a medical procedure done when I was a senior in high school. And that coupled with what was already an interest in the physical sciences, chemistry, biology, physics. As I went through my schooling at the University of Texas at Austin, I developed a very strong affinity for biology and ultimately wanted to couple that interest in biological sciences with growing interest in the medical field. So at that point I decided to apply to medical school and well here I am today.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. It is just kind of an inevitable path with the experiences and and so since you mentioned it. What is it that inspired you to get into this startup at this stage in your career?

Kevin King:
Well yeah I’d say that what drove me towards emergency medicine went way back up to that actually starts for then that is I really enjoy being on your feet problem solver. And emergency medicine is is unique in the house of medicine in that I never know what’s going to happen. I don’t know who my patients for that day are going to be. I have no idea if it’s going to be a day of taking care of the flu and ankle sprains or patients who are much much sicker. And so I enjoy that “on your feet decision making” and as I progressed through my career even all the way back into medical school I chose to do a lot of activities where I really like to help people do what they want to do but do it better. What I mean by that is my why is I want to enable folks to accomplish their goals to do what they want to do and I want to help them accomplish those goals in an efficient and comprehensive way. So which is kind of the reason I moved over towards education as I progressed through my career I started out in education back in 2010 when I joined the faculty at UTI health here in San Antonio and that education really kind of melds in with helping people who want to become emergency physicians or just physicians in general help them accomplish those goals. And what got me interested in a startup per say was as I was educating emergency medicine residents as I was educating students, I came to the realization that a very important skill that I had acquired over 20 years of medical practice is the ability to walk into a room and rapidly gain an understanding that a patient who’s in front of me is critically ill. There’s a look to that. Somebody who is having difficulty breathing looks a certain way. Somebody who has a life threatening emergency often looks a certain way. A little bit of subtle sweat they’re breathing funny they’re sitting on the bed in an awkward way. And it took me probably a decade or so to kind of learn what that looks like but it’s a critical skill for clinicians to understand. So I started to think why don’t we have simulation to train that. Recently we had the Southwest airlines accident out on the East Coast and I think it was last spring was it when the uncontained engine failure and the pilots executed a beautiful emergency landing at Pittsburgh airport and there’s no doubt that the pilots are incredibly skilled. But I would like to point out that that’s not the first time they’ve done that emergency. They’ve done engine failures and cabin pressurization losses at altitude in these incredibly realistic simulators that the airline industry utilizes to train their crews how to respond in an emergency. I mean these things are pods on us on on stilts. They move realistically they can replicate any kind of weather conditions flight conditions all kinds of stuff. And I started to wonder why don’t we have that in medicine because the simulation technology we have in medicine is largely centered around plastic mannequins. They look like what you might see in a department store but they’re very sophisticated that have little actuators in them that allow them to blink their eyes and speakers to allow them to talk and pumps and stuff to move fluids through that simulate blood. But ultimately they still look like a plastic mannequin. They don’t sweat. They don’t give you the fearful look at a patient who is in critical distress does. They don’t shift around. They just don’t look real. And I wondered why that was and how it could fix it. So that’s kind of what got me interested in thinking about how to fix a problem. How do we fix this issue of providing more realistic medical simulation to medical professionals.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. So talk to us a little bit about what you guys have done today. Maybe some examples of the work you’ve done and results you’ve created.

Kevin King:
So what we’ve done. My team and I, I’m joined by some emergency medicine clinicians as well as some computer scientists out of UTSA. And what we’ve done is we’ve created the first augmented reality medical patient simulator that’s available. Basically what we did is we took some really slick technology from Microsoft the Microsoft tunnel lens which is an augmented reality device. And what augmented reality is that it allows us to use the hollow lens which is worn on the user’s head to project a computer image into the user’s environment. So for instance we could put a hollow lens on your head and the recording studio and we could delay our patient out on the floor next to you or we could do it in the back of an ambulance at the shopping mall in an emergency department wherever we want to put it. We can project this computer generated patient. So in addition to having the ability to project this computer generated patient we worked with a very skilled medical art team animator and and a medical artist who created these super realistic looking renditions of patient illness like chest pain or respiratory problems or a seizure. And so we can now take these highly realistic computer generated images these animations and project them into almost any environment where they might be practicing.

Saul Marquez:
And how are they can they feel them. How does that work?

Kevin King:
So the way that works is we can do the animation projection of one of two ways we can project the animation just onto a table in which case you know there’s nothing there it’s just an image it’s projected on the table. We can also wrap this animation this computer image around an actual physical mannequin. Now why would do we want to do that. Well for the exact reason that you just mentioned that gives the user the learner something to reach out and touch something to push on for CPR or something to even touch and start an I.V. or practice another procedural skill on.

Saul Marquez:
Fascinating. Very cool. Wasn’t aware you could do both. Interesting use of this technology. So as you guys have taken a dive into this technology number one is it available today? And number two if it is where where can they get it?

Kevin King:
So it is available today. You can actually go to our website www.medcognition.com and contact us that way. But yeah it is available today. We actually have five customers out there using it for training of medical learners as we speak.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. So it’s super, super interesting and we’ve had a few other guests in a different space. For example using virtual reality to train orthopedic surgeons you may not see a distal radius fracture in your entire practice but there’s other ways for you to get that and now with the great things that you guys are doing there. I mean talk about gaining those 10 years of experience and maybe less than a year. It’s fascinating work and definitely a great way to improve outcomes. Give us an example of a setback you guys had and what you learned from it.

Kevin King:
You know it’s interesting being a physician who has absolutely no business experience. Really. I’ve never worked in the business environment I’ve never done. I’ve never tried to get a product to market before. It’s been a very interesting learning experience and one of the things that we’ve learned really over the course of this year is we thought well gee how hard can it be to sell stuff. How hard can sales really be. Well what we’ve learned over the last year is sales is really hard to correctly. And it’s hard to do it. So that’s actually then you know said no startup CEO ever gee the sales aren’t quite measuring up to what we are hoping they might be. So our sales process what we’ve encountered with that this year is that we’re largely selling to public safety organizations like fire departments and ambulance companies and learning institutions like community colleges and medical schools and that sort of thing. Well their budget cycles are really long. So one of those things that we’re encounter right now is is a sales cycle that’s really quite long. And what we’re doing with that actually is we are reaching out and we’re really pleased. Here in San Antonio to have some access to resources that we otherwise might not have. We have recently been selected to join velocity Texas which is a accelerator incubator organization run by the Texas Research Technology Foundation here in town. Yeah. And so we’ll be starting to work with them and being able to access and get to know the business community here in town with the hope of obtaining some of that experience. And we’re also working to expand our sales focus by recruiting and working with a network of resellers. And so we’ve signed on with three resellers and we’ll be working with them over the next 12 months to try and help get our sales process moving in the right direction because ultimately our core competency is creating a realistic medical patient simulator. Then we would like to partner with them to harness their core competency which is sales and marketing.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. That’s great. Kevin and you know kudos to you guys for finding the resources and teaming up with the right people to to help get this into the right hands of the people that could distribute it because there’s definitely no doubt I mean I took a look at some of the images some of the videos folks if you have a chance check out the website you’ll see how realistic these these images look. I can’t imagine how they would look with the hololens in 3-D. So that’s some really great work you guys are up to there. How about on the other side of the coin, Kevin, what’s one of the proudest experience you guys have had to date.

Kevin King:
I would have to say that one of the proudest experiences we’ve had to date. Well I’m going to give you a couple. Number one was we’ve been very proud of each and every customer that we have have signed on and and our customers are coming to us at increasing velocity with every passing month. And the reason that is so encouraging for us is our customers come to us and they look at our product and they validate the reason we went to market. Yes we’ve had these limitations Kevin. We’ve really been struggling with this and we love your product. Our students love your product and it’s really making a difference. It’s helping our students understand complex clinical conditions before they have to go to the field and practice medicine for real. And so for me as an educator and as somebody who really is passionate about trying to help people do what they want to do that is an incredibly gratifying feeling to be told hey look what you’re doing is making a difference.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah that’s big.

Kevin King:
And as a company our our goal is is to have an impact. A lot of the customers that we’re focused on our pre hospital agencies and community colleges and I don’t think there are a lot of people out there that would disagree. Maybe there are some but our pre hospital professionals do incredibly important work but they’re not always resourced the way they probably should be with training aids and so being able to provide them a training that really makes a difference in how they provide care to critically ill patients is important to us as a company as well. So we’ve been very proud of that. Now way we were selected as a innovator of the year for the EMS world which is the world’s largest EMS conference and we are selected as one of the 2018 innovations of the year. Again a very proud moment for us to really have a bunch of folks you know after working on this for three plus years having a group of your peers and a group of your target audience tell you that yes what you’ve done here is really is really remarkable. And that was very exciting for us as well.

Saul Marquez:
Congratulations on that. Thank you. Yeah there’s no doubt that the training of EMS folks is crucial. I mean it could mean the difference between a a stroke not being a big as big of a deal or death. And just one example of many. Right Kevin.

Kevin King:
Correct.

Saul Marquez:
Definitely key that these these folks get the appropriate amount of training if you’re listening today and you’ve been searching for a solution to this gap by all means Kevins your man and we’ll leave contact information here for the company for you guys to get in touch. Getting close to the end of our time here today Kevin, let’s pretend we’re building a course on what it takes to be successful in health care and education. So I’ve got a couple of questions for you. Lightning round style so I’ll ask and then you’ll give me some quick responses followed by a book you recommend to the listeners. You ready?

Kevin King:
Yes.

Saul Marquez:
All right. Let’s do it. What’s the best way to improve health care outcomes?

Kevin King:
I’m going to limit this to kind of my focus area. I think the best way to improve health care outcomes is to really focus on improving the quality of training that health care providers receive.

Saul Marquez:
What’s the biggest mistake or pitfall to avoid?

Kevin King:
Remember sales is hard.

Saul Marquez:
How do you stay relevant as an organization despite constant change?

Kevin King:
I think by keeping an eye on the goals and necessary outcomes that your customers have allows companies to stay relevant. If you address the needs of your customers and their needs or forefront that will help you stay relevant.

Saul Marquez:
What’s one area of focus that drives everything in your organization?

Kevin King:
We want to have an impact on the health and welfare of our customers’ patients.

Saul Marquez:
Love it and these two next ones are more fun off businesses. What’s your number one health habit.

Kevin King:
Oh boy. I run.

Saul Marquez:
Nice. And how about your number one success habit.

Kevin King:
Keep going until somebody tells you to stop.

Saul Marquez:
I love it. Kevin what book would you recommend to the listeners?

Kevin King:
Well I have two books actually if I may. One is.

Saul Marquez:
Yes.

Kevin King:
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. It’s a book about how companies should focus their efforts and the other one is a book by Adam Grant called Originals and it’s all about how original thinkers and innovators behave and act and think.

Saul Marquez:
Great recommendations, Kevin. Folks for the syllabus that we’ve created for you here along with a transcript and brief shownotes, just go to outcomes rocket that health in the search bar type in Kevin King or type in medcognition and you’ll find all of the resources there. Kevin before we conclude I love if you could just share a closing thought and then the best place where the listeners could get in touch with to continue the conversation with you.

Kevin King:
So my closing thought is I love what I do and despite all the struggles and difficulty that running a startup company is what keeps me and my partners going is we love what we do and we are very passionate about having a positive impact on our customers and their clients.

Saul Marquez:
Love it. And there’s absolutely phenomenal work being done here. Folks if you get a chance check out MedCognition online they’re definitely doing some great work. And if you find that what they’re doing aligns with your efforts by all means reach out. So Dr. Kevin King again, CEO of MedCognition just want to say a big thank you to you and looking forward to staying in touch.

Kevin King:
Saul, it’s great. I appreciate the opportunity and I hope your listeners got something out of our conversation.

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

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