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Continuous Vital Sign Monitoring the New Standard of Care
Episode 647

Werner Vorster, Founder & CEO at Vitls

Continuous Vital Sign Monitoring the New Standard of Care

In this episode, we are excited to feature Werner Voster, the co-founder and CEO of Vitls. Werner shares the genesis of his company. He also discusses how Vitls innovative wearable device improves access to better, accurate, and more reliable data in and out of the hospital. He educates us on the advantages of the Vitls device especially for pediatric care and gives a long term perspective on the use of the device. 

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Continuous Vital Sign Monitoring the New Standard of Care

Episode 647

About Werner Voster

Werner is the co-founder and CEO of Vitls Inc, a digital healthcare company that focuses on remote monitoring of patient vital signs throughout the care continuum. As CEO of Vitls, Verner manages the company’s overall operations, product strategy, regulatory strategy, fundraising, and business development. 

Prior to Vitls, Wener was also part of  TMCx Innovation Institute and Ground Zero. In 2013, he founded SkyLab Mobile and in 2004 founded a2btransfers.com, the world’s number 1 transfer specialist, serving 500 cities and resorts through 700 Airports, Ports, and Train Stations in 116 countries.

When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, hunting, and mountain biking. He’s from the awesome country of South Africa and now lives here in the United States.

 

Continuous Vital Sign Monitoring the New Standard of Care with Werner Vorster, Founder & CEO at Vitls transcript powered by Sonix—easily convert your audio to text with Sonix.

Continuous Vital Sign Monitoring the New Standard of Care with Werner Vorster, Founder & CEO at Vitls 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:
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 smoothpodcasting.com to learn more. That’s smoothpodcasting.com to learn more.

Saul Marquez:
Welcome back to the Outcomes Rocket, Saul Marquez here. Today, I have the privilege of hosting a Werner Voster. He is the co-founder and CEO of Vitls. Although he is qualified software engineer, he has not written a single line of code for the past 17 years. Vernor co-founded a2btransfers.com now hoppa.com in 2005 and grew it into one of the world’s leading airport transfer providers. Today, Hoppa operates in one hundred and seventeen countries, and in two thousand nineteen transported its 30 millionth customer. Verner exited Ha’apai in twenty sixteen while retaining a small shareholding and is not currently actively involved in the day to day running of the business. As CEO of Vitls, Verner manages the company’s overall operations, product strategy, regulatory strategy, fundraising, and business development. When he’s not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, reading, hunting, and mountain biking. He’s from the awesome country of South Africa and now lives here in the United States. So it’s just such an interesting background and journey. Werner, so privileged to have you here with us today. Thanks for joining us. Thanks so much for the opportunity. So absolutely. So before we dive into what you guys are up to at Vitls, tell us a little bit more about what inspired your journey and work in health care.

Werner Voster:
That’s a good question. My background, as you mentioned, is more in business. And I kind of came about like in twenty-sixteen, especially because one of my sons suffered from febrile seizures when he was younger. So basically seizure brought on by a high or a fast-rising temperature. And back then we were looking for ways to monitor his temperature remotely, just to alert us when he had a fever because we wanted to kind of avoid the seizures from happening and we couldn’t find anything. We tested a few devices that were out in the market. None of them performed properly. Funny enough, they were always rejected. And then we ended up having to sleep next to him in his room when he was sick, alternating doing that whenever he was sick so that we could check his temperature. So that’s how it all started. We started building prototypes, talking to clinicians to figure out what they need and then finally got a prototype together. And everything kind of snowballed from there.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. You know that’s awesome, man. You know, you had the business, the software skills. Then your son comes up with the need and you’re like, let me tackle this. Wait a minute. This is something more people need. And now here we are. And so tell us about Vitls. What are you guys doing? How are you doing it? And how is it adding value to the health care ecosystem?

Werner Voster:
Right. So we’ve developed a wearable device that monitors vital signs continuously. So the idea was to have something, a single device, not multiple devices that can measure everything a nurse would check on a patient when she comes to the bedside. And the idea is to monitor it continuously so we can get the duration as it happens and when it happens and also get accurate, reliable data into the medical records system without the hassle from a nurse to have to go around measuring patients, sterilizing the equipment. Doing all of that takes about 15 minutes, more or less to do that per patient and then having to go to the input into the medical records. We can automate that, give them accurate data, and they can then focus on treating the patient and interacting with the patient instead of poking and prodding them. I know many people who’ve been woken up at night to check thylacine’s checked in the hospital. So that’s always a comment we get from everyone. So our device at the moment monitors body temperature, respiration rate, heart rate, and SP02. And we can do that in any frequency or interval as required by the hospital. And all of that, as I mentioned, ends up back in the medical records. So whether that patient is in the hospital or discharged and still needs some monitoring at home, we can do all of that. And it’s as if the nurse is right there next to the patient’s bedside.

Saul Marquez:
I think that’s really neat. And so the device itself, is it cleared for use and in hospitals and home or how is it what’s the indication for it?

Werner Voster:
Sure. So, yeah, it’s good for the hospital and at home and we’re currently the only device that uses it. Well, the only company with a device is a single form factor and measures all of these vital signs, especially body temperature, which is critical for patients. And these days as well for COVID. And we’re also the only device currently well, single device that’s cleared for pediatric patients so we can monitor kids from two years and older as well, which is kind of rare for wearables to be cleared by the FDA for under 18.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome, man. So you’ve sort of got through the tough part. Now. You have this device that measures all of these critical components that a lot of people care about when managing sickness in the hospital, but also at home. Talk to us about what makes you guys better than what’s out there today.

Werner Voster:
Sure. So to kind of touch that we have one device that monitors everything. So it’s very. Straightforward, it’s placed on a chase to the patient and it’s connected to or paired with the patient’s identifying patient MRN they call it identifier and that’s it. The nurse can forget about it. The device is waterproof so it can be worn in the shower, worn in the bath and the patient goes about his day or her day if it’s disconnected due to the patient moving around in the hospital records the data and it was reconnected dumpsite. So it’s very straightforward and actually, it weighs nine grams. So it’s so light that you forget you have it on. So that’s one of the things. The other thing is the pediatric side of it, where we care for kids as well. And the challenge with pediatric technology is that most of the time its technology that has been developed for adults that worked around this kind of a workaround to work on kids where a device was purposefully built for kids initially and can also work for adults. So hospitals are really keen to do work with us specifically for that reason. So those are the two things that make us unique. Well, a third is also that we have body temperature measurements and we’re in an area where we’ve kind of protected ourselves with IP to allow us to measure that. So our combination of measurements, we’re the only company that can do that.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome, man. I mean, so you started this thing in 2016. It’s 2020, and you already have all of this. That’s pretty crazy, man. I mean, that’s fast.

Werner Voster:
Well, yeah, we constantly feel that we’re moving very slowly. So it’s good to hear that. I guess in medical technology or medical things move a little bit slower. But yeah, we’re always trying to get there faster and get things done because it’s not always man commercializing Thank you. Thanks.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. So, you know, we were chatting a little bit before the interview, folks, and Vernor shared he and his team participated with the TMC X program down there. And it’s in Houston, right?

Werner Voster:
Correct. Yeah.

Saul Marquez:
just a great group. We’ve had a couple of interviews with folks from that group and companies that have come out from there. As you all know, it’s a place where a lot of innovative entrepreneurial minds meet, and it’s at the center of a lot of medical centers. So this is awesome that we see another great technology come out of that center for use here in the States and the globe. So talk to us about how you guys are improving outcomes Verner.

Werner Voster:
With our technology, it’s all about detecting stuff earlier so predicting instead of or preventing instead of treating. And that’s where we’re the biggest advantage for remote monitoring lies. Also if we could shorten hospital stays a little bit by sending a patient earlier because they’re still being monitored, clinically monitored at home, then that’ll take some of the cost out of the medical whole process for the patient payers. So there’s also what we’ve been working on is trying to get that at home piece as soon as possible. So as soon as a patient leaves, they can they don’t have to worry about anything. They have a mobile phone with them that has an app on it that relays the data to the medical records system. So it’s very straightforward. And, yeah, it’s the advantage comes in the long term when you start picking stuff up that you can prevent or when I say, um, clinicians try to get the patient healthier sooner instead of having to keep them longer because they have had an adverse event.

Saul Marquez:
So is your son still using this or is he using it now? Like, just curious about that.

Werner Voster:
Sure. No, he’s luckily outgrown the seizures.

Saul Marquez:
That’s great.

Werner Voster:
Thank you. I do use it, but they use it for testing purposes. So you have three boys, and they are the perfect guinea pigs for wearing our devices. And they do. They do. The funny thing is that the first time you hook them up to this, when we were here in Houston, we connected them to an ICU monitor that we have in the office. And the first comment that our middle son said was Why are there so many wires. So there yeah. That’s one of the big problems these days for kids as well.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome. Love that. And so as you view the market and also the work that you guys have done thus far, what would you say is one of the biggest setbacks you’ve experienced and a key learning that came from that time?

Werner Voster:
Sure. One of the biggest ones and there are many and its sort of one of the biggest ones is that we used a contractor contracting company to help us with software development. And it was for us well, I was there was a lot of money that we spent on it. But the bigger cost for us is always time. So and we did waste, I think, for four and a half months on it. And they came back with and they didn’t get any other targets that we said they’re not even close.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awful.

Werner Voster:
Yeah, and it’s very tough kind of deal with that, but the learning, well, it was we got over it and we went off. We continued. And the bigger learning is that we do spend much more time assessing the companies that we decide to work with and really look at references. We didn’t get references for them. We saw the work they’ve done before. But if we dug a little bit deeper, then we would have known and it’s tough to as a startup, to bring people in and employ them full time for that. So we have not shied away from using contractors. It’s just the vetting process needs to be made much stricter, more stringent.

Saul Marquez:
Yeah. You know, it’s a great lesson learned. And when you plug somebody in or a company in to fulfill something that’s core to the launch of the business, and it’s just so key that that vetting process is in place because there are so many things that could go wrong. And I know all of us have probably been faced with something similar, but it’s about what you do, right? You guys have systems and processes and vetting instruments to prevent that from happening again.

Werner Voster:
Yeah, but it has become very important for us.

Saul Marquez:
Good for you guys. What about the other side of that? What are you most proud of? What are you most excited about today?

Werner Voster:
Well, we’re in the process of commercialization, and that excites me a lot, mostly because we can finally get our devices out there. And we’ve seen so many people who need it, and especially the kids who and the chronically ill kids. It’s very tough to see those kids and their families having to deal with all of that. And we’re hoping that this can help them a little more normal lives. So that’s the I’m most excited about that. Yeah, we’re just working hard on commercialization. COVID has changed the landscape quite significantly for the good and the bad. So we’re dealing with that. And I feel like we have a strong, strong focus. And pretty soon, hopefully, you see our devices out there.

Saul Marquez:
That’s awesome. Well, Werner, let’s just leave the listeners with a place to connect with you. Where can they find out more about Vitls and what closing thought would you leave us all with?

Werner Voster:
So they can have a look at our website, connect with us on LinkedIn, reach out to us. There’s a contact page or contact email address on the website. And in terms of closing thoughts, I think the biggest one for me and what I’ve learned during this whole entire process, this whole journey is just to keep going. There are a lot of questions about whether we could monitor what we are monitoring on our location, on the body. And it was all of that well, correct, because we believed we could. So I believe now more than I have before, that it’s just about keeping going and validating and having a thick skin, that’s the most important thing I believe.

Saul Marquez:
Love it, man. Yeah, you know, it’s there’s always a lot of naysayers. Then you do it and then the opportunity comes. So hang in there. It’s certainly the time is right. And I really appreciate you leaving us with that inspirational message. Folks, the website is vitlsinc.com. It’s vitlsinc.com. Check them out over there. We’ll also leave links to the ways you could get in touch with Verner and his team at Vitls in the show notes just go to OutcomesRocket.Health. Type in Vitls VITLS in the search bar and you’ll find it all there. Werner, thanks so much for spending time with us today. This is really fun.

Werner Voster:
Thanks so much, Saul. Appreciate it.

Saul Marquez:
Hey, Outcomes Rocket listeners, Saul Marquez here. I get what a phenomenal asset a podcast could be for your business and also how frustrating it is to navigate editing and production, monetization, and achieving the ROI you’re looking for. Technical busywork shouldn’t stop you from getting your genius into the world, though. You should be able to build your brand easily with the professional podcast that gets attention. A patched-up podcast could ruin your business. Let us do the technical busy work behind the scenes while you share your genius on the mic and take the industry stage. Visit smoothpodcasting/com to learn more. That’s smoothpodcasting.com to learn more.

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Things You’ll Learn

  • Spend time assessing the companies to work with and really look at references. 
  • It’s tough as a startup to bring people in and employ them full time. 
  • COVID has changed the landscape significantly for the good and the bad. 
  • Keep going. Despite challenges and problems, keep going. 

 

Resource(s)

https://www.vitlsinc.com/