Summary:

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in healthcare in leaps and bounds. Now more than ever, care managers and healthcare providers are considering what it looks like to care for patients remotely – in a way that is secure, reliable, and accessible to their patients, many of whom are impacted by the digital divide.

In this episode, Dominic speaks with telecom expert Liliane A. Offredo-Zreik, Co-Founder of Sano Health, a Kajeet partner, about her company’s research and development of telehealth tools. Liliane also shares the trends she expects to see in healthcare over the next few years as the industry grapples with care provider burnout and the “home hospital” emerges.

About Liliane:

Liliane A. Offredo-Zreik is a former senior executive with significant experience in the telecommunication industry. Prior to her founding role at Sano Health, she held senior roles at major telecom and cable operators as well as major vendors. Liliane is a telecom industry expert, with her research and advisory efforts focused on how technology is driving profound change in healthcare.

About Dominic:

Dominic Marcellino is the director of strategy and business development at Kajeet. In this role, Dominic is responsible for expanding and strengthening Kajeet’s partnerships with system integrators, device manufacturers and solution providers, leading strategy for product and sales teams and refining customer experience. An expert in product, business development and sales with extensive expertise in bringing low-power IoT applications to market, Dominic’s strategic guidance strengthens Kajeet’s market position as a premier mobile virtual network operator for global enterprises.

Transcript:

0:00:00.2 Liliane Offredo-Zreik: If you think of a patient who ends up going to the clinic, and this patient needs to use, let’s say Zoom, so the care manager just says, “Okay, let’s put Zoom on your phone.” Well, it’s an old phone, the phone may not have enough memory.

0:00:14.0 Dominic Marcellino: Sure.

0:00:14.4 LO: Now, there’s a conversation. Can you remove this app that you like from your phone to put Zoom to talk to your doctor? And it’s tough, and patients don’t want to do that. So these are some of the things we sort of work through, and it’s an evolving story because what started by being telehealth, and I’m sure we’re gonna talk about this, is now, there’s more monitoring, there’s more going on, and the complexity increases. And that’s sort of what we’re trying to work on.

[music]

0:01:01.7 DM: Hi, this is Dominic Marcellino, the host of, “But Did It Work?”, a podcast by Kajeet. Today’s episode is going to feature Liliane Offredo-Zreik, the co-founder of Sano Healthcare, which is a customer partner of Kajeet. They have been delivering digital healthcare solutions, bridging the digital divide in healthcare for the last several years. We have a really fun conversation for you, ranging from the founding of the company and how they were able to quickly pull together effective products and solutions for telehealth and remote patient monitoring during the COVID pandemic. And at the end, we’ll talk a little bit about where we see healthcare going in the future, including a pretty cool conversation about the in-home hospital, which is very exciting. I hope you enjoy this episode, and looking forward to the next one.

Liliane, welcome and thanks for being here.

0:02:02.2 LO: Thank you, Dominic. It’s great to be here and to have this conversation with you. It’s really very timely actually.

0:02:08.4 DM: Yeah, we’re very delighted. So, Liliane, for those listening in who don’t know you and Sano Health, maybe tell us a little bit about yourself and about how the company got started.

0:02:19.4 LO: Yeah, sure. So I’ve had a long career in telecommunication, started with Verizon, what’s now Verizon. I worked for the cable companies, Smyrna Cable, which is now Charter, and then Verizon Wireless and so on. And a few years ago, I started being interested in wellness and health, and particularly as it pertains to lower income populations. It was even obvious at the time, although not widely, broadly acknowledged, that a segment of the population has not been well-served by the healthcare system. And at the time, I hooked up with a former classmate, actually, and friend, who had a long career in healthcare and he resonated on the same issue, is that a lot of poor, under-privileged people end up being left out by the system. And we started to discuss, explore thoughts of how the telecommunication capabilities and services could end up bridging the so-called divide. Although at the time it wasn’t called that, it still didn’t have a name. And then we were joined by another former colleague of mine who is also another telecom expert, and we started to really come up with some ideas and solutions to address this problem. And now, fast forward to 2020, when all of a sudden this became a widely glaring problem, right?

0:04:04.7 DM: Sure.

0:04:06.4 LO: When everybody had to stay home and all of a sudden, everybody thought telehealth was the greatest invention since sliced bread, and actually it wasn’t, it was always there, but nobody wanted to use it, the regulation wasn’t there, and so on. And of course, a lot of the people that we had been thinking about were the ones who were disadvantaged, because not only they have no broadband, they have no good devices, they have limited digital literacy. But at the same time, they’re the ones who don’t have a car to go to the doctor, carpooling during COVID was a problem. So you can start to see the almost unfortunately, in a bad way, a perfect storm for some of this thinking that we had been engaging in to crystallize around trying to address a very specific problem.

0:05:00.7 DM: Yeah, absolutely. And so as this happened, this need grew tremendously. At the same time, people were trying to figure out how to address it. And so maybe walk us through a bit the process through which you went from the ideas that you had in the beginning, “Yes, there’s a problem in healthcare, access to healthcare leaves certain people out.” And suddenly they were definitely left out because care was needed, and yet wasn’t necessarily clear how to deliver it. Maybe how did Sano get started in addressing that in the last two years? And then maybe how has that evolved over the course of these two years?

0:05:39.6 LO: Yeah, yeah, sure. So before the pandemic, we were trying to figure out how to draw people to use healthcare. Not digital healthcare, regular health care, by giving them free communication devices as incentives and trying to sort of have this reward mechanism through wireless data and so on. At the time, wireless data was thought of as a nice reward because it wasn’t plentiful and unlimited and so on. But then when the pandemic started and telehealth became such a widely-adopted modality, so we started to understand it’s one thing to say, “Oh, there’s a digital divide,” but what exactly is it, right?

0:06:26.8 DM: Right, sure.

0:06:27.4 LO: So now you have people who don’t have sufficient broadband, because a lot of times they have prepaid and the data runs out in the middle of the month, so asking them to do a telehealth session, which ends up being fairly data-heavy in terms of consumption is a hurdle. The devices they use are fairly inadequate, sometimes it’s an older phone, a small screen, it’s grainy, and so on. Rarely do they have computers. But the other thing that also wasn’t so obvious is that we’re asking these people to download an app, which it could be Zoom, could be Doxie, some other capabilities.

0:07:11.6 DM: All sorts of things, yeah.

0:07:12.4 LO: They have to log in, they have to enable permission for the camera and the microphone, all these things that we usually do without thinking. For people who are not as digitally literate or savvy, end up becoming roadblocks and hurdles, and so these are the people we are trying to serve, and then they end up at an increased disadvantage in terms of receiving help, especially. And as you know, a lot of these people end up living in more crowded areas and then they’re the ones who the pandemic hit the hardest. I mean, you know the unfortunate situation in the 2020 timeframe. So these are the problems we started to address. And fortunately at the same time, the government realized this disparity and made some funding available, because a lot of these people were served by federally-qualified health clinics who typically have very limited budgets and funding. And so in a way, the government helped us help these populations. So we started to curate devices that were not fancy, not iPhones, but good. We took a lot of time to select the right device, the right screen size, the right quality of the screen, the cameras on the device, how big it is, because some people who are older, you don’t wanna give them too small, and so on. Of course, the right price point. And we started to provide data on these devices to do healthcare. We did not want these devices to be used as basically for there to go to Netflix or TikTok and so on.

0:09:03.4 DM: Of course.

0:09:03.9 LO: So we started to have a mechanism to manage the device in a way that it’s restricted to the needs that a care provider specifies. So for example, a patient who needs a device because they have hypertension may be different, or it’s a pregnancy situation, so we started to think of how to configure these devices. And this is getting to the point three which is the digital literacy, so that the patient doesn’t have to do the downloading and configuring.

0:09:36.6 DM: Right, of course.

0:09:36.6 LO: So basically, we start to take these devices and turn them into a mobile medical device that is customized for the patient cohorts. And it sounds easy, but this is where a lot of experimentation, and also, of course, not just us sitting in our labs and thinking, but working with a lot of clinics and doctors and care managers to think through what’s the best way to do this? And of course, it was iterative.

0:10:10.1 DM: Of course, yeah.

0:10:12.1 LO: And this is not in one and done, you give these patients the device, but then the patients need to make change, you need to update the device, and we can do this over the air. So that is some of the things we did, but also, the learnings is just saying, “Hey, Joe, here’s a device for your health, take this home and use it,” was certainly not enough. So, basically we worked with clinics because they started to realize that the patient needs to be trained. And so now we started to partner with these clinics to help them train their patients so that they understand why are they given this device, how to use it. And then, of course, we created a lot of FAQs, documentation, but more importantly, we started to create on-device videos, very simple that guide the patient through the very basic things of entering, you know, if you think of one of the apps for telehealth, you go in, there’s a drop-down list of the doctors, you have to select your doctor, here’s how you do a drop-down list, now the keyboard shows up, and now you enter this. So to the minute, little details. Now of course, the microphone is already enabled, the camera is enabled, so they don’t have to do any of this stuff, but it’s already configured.

0:11:45.0 LO: For some patients, some health plans actually, not clinics, wanted to have these one-time visits, which is called risk adjustment visit. So, a lot of health plans who serve the Medicare Advantage population, they have to have an annual visit with the patient, and because of COVID, this wasn’t happening. So what we did is we took a mobile device and we basically made this device so that all it does is this one online health risk assessment. And so the patient opens the device, pops up, “You’re scheduled for January 20th at 9:00 AM with your doctor. At the time of your appointment, click here.” Boom. You’re in the telehealth session. That’s all. They cannot do anything else with the device. And the minute you turn it on, you’re there. So think of removing any complexity.

0:12:46.5 DM: Absolutely, yeah.

0:12:47.5 LO: So these are some of the things we were… And it’s not something we just like figured out overnight, it just was a very iterative situation. The other question is, who do you give these devices to? Initially, it was like, “Well, just give them… ” Of course, there are criteria. The people have to have limited means and have a need. But beyond this high level, how do you think of who gets this device? Who’s more likely to use it? And so on. It sounds simple until you get into the details. And again, how to work with the patient on an ongoing basis to make sure they’re getting the utility of the device. And it’s been successful, we have, for example, we got started… Somehow New Orleans became a big area for us, and because we signed up an FQHC who ended up telling other, you know, doctors talk to each other, who end up with many. And older people, people in their 80s and 90s who really were not very comfortable with technology…

0:13:53.9 DM: Have been able to use that.

0:13:55.0 LO: Started to actually use these devices.

0:13:57.1 DM: Yeah.

0:14:00.1 LO: And of course, it’s so rewarding when you hear about this.

0:14:05.2 DM: Sure. Yeah, absolutely. You touched on several things there that I wanna get into a little further detail on. The first is that you’re dealing with a wide variety of groups of people that have health care needs, and you have no way of knowing in the beginning what the common denominator of digital literacy is. And it sounds like over time, you came to an approach, especially for this risk assessment visits, if not for others, where eliminating as many variable steps as possible was part of what you did, and I’m sure that that came from feedback, from your partners in the clinics that you worked with, but also thinking more about optimization and efficiency, and realizing that any impediment to somebody continuing to use something or using it in the first place, makes it less likely that they were to use it. In the end, remote healthcare only works if people use it, and if people trust it, and so they have to think that it’s secure, they have to think that their data is not being shared with the wrong folks. But it has to be something…

0:15:09.6 DM: You have the story of the 80 and 90-year-olds who are using it effectively, really must have also gotten past a barrier of trust, and made sure to avoid the situations of confusion that people get into, right? You mentioned earlier things like enabling microphones and cameras in order to use an application. When those pop up for me, you know, my reaction is not just to click them. My reaction is to think, well, should I allow this? Because I don’t know if I trust this application, but if I’ve never seen it before, I wouldn’t even know why I was being asked or whether or not I needed to have that. And so it sounds like for some of these cases, you said, well, we know that they’re going to do this, they’re going to need to say yes in order for this to work, so we’re just gonna take that out of the equation. But on the caregiver side, what are some of the things that you learned to create efficiencies and optimizations there too? Because I can see that being an area where you want that to be as simple as possible for care providers as well. What are some of the areas that contributed to your end solutions where you learned there?

0:16:12.1 LO: Yeah, that was actually an area of great learning. Just to go back to, before I go there, your thoughts on the trust.

0:16:22.5 LO: You know, initially, we thought, okay, we’d configure these devices and we ship them to the patients.

0:16:26.2 DM: Right.

0:16:27.1 LO: And I think that idea of trust is very, very important. If your caregiver who you trust, who you’ve had the relationship with hands you a device, explains to you how it works and tells you why you need it and how to use it, it’s different from this brick landing in your inbox that you don’t know what to do with.

0:16:43.7 DM: Right. [chuckle] From some random company, yeah, absolutely.

0:16:46.8 LO: You’re right. And now you’re already nervous about technology and you’re right, What does this phone? Who’s listening to me? And all that stuff. So that’s an important finding, learning that we sort of work with. On the caregiver side, what we learned is that it shouldn’t have been a surprised in hindsight, is that they’re overwhelmed.

0:17:15.8 DM: Right? Right. More than ever now.

0:17:19.9 LO: And they’re extremely overstretched. And then if you ask them to take… And some of them were truly heroes, right? And some of them were trying to take it upon themselves to train the patients and patiently explain to each patient how this is gonna work.

0:17:38.7 DM: Sure.

0:17:39.6 LO: It’s hard.

0:17:40.6 DM: Absolutely.

0:17:41.2 LO: And some of them in the beginning, because this was not perfect, I mean, it’s still not perfect. We’re always getting better. They started to sort of try to compensate. But as we fixed on the website, the recurring theme is that we work very closely and we really try to help as best we can, for the right experience. I mean, to me, this is what we’re about. And because we’re small and we’re very focused, I mean, you have a lot of big telecom companies and they do great stuff, but our ability to sort of be so pinpointed on the need of a particular care manager who’s serving these people with this specific need, I think is what’s important, but then it is this partnership that we develop with them.

0:18:36.1 DM: Yeah. Absolutely.

0:18:36.9 LO: And to see where are the pain points that they have? How do we remove from their plate anything that we can? Maybe we’ll talk about RPM, Remote Patient Monitoring, later in this conversation.

0:18:50.7 DM: Sure.

0:18:50.8 LO: This was another big area.

0:18:52.1 DM: Right.

0:18:53.7 LO: You know, I’ll give you an example. Before we hand people devices, if you think of a patient who ends up going to the clinic and this patient needs to use, whatever, some telehealth app, right? Let’s say Zoom. So the care manager says, okay, let’s put Zoom on your phone.

0:19:16.4 LO: Well, it’s an old phone, the phone may not have enough memory, right?

0:19:19.6 DM: Sure, yeah exactly.

0:19:21.5 LO: So, so now there’s a conversation, Can you remove this app that you like from your phone to put Zoom to talk to your doctor? And it’s tough and patients don’t wanna do that, right?

0:19:35.4 DM: Of course not.

0:19:35.8 LO: Especially if you think some patients are using these lifeline phones.

0:19:38.6 DM: Right, Absolutely.

0:19:39.7 LO: Right? They’re very, very limited in capabilities.

0:19:41.7 LO: So these are some of the things we sort of work through, and it’s evolving story because what started by being telehealth, and I’m sure we’re gonna talk about this is now, there’s more monitoring, there’s more going on. And the complexity increases. And that’s sort of what we’re trying to work on.

0:20:00.5 DM: Absolutely, yeah, and we will get to that in a minute. I wanted to dig a little bit more here on two things. I see sort of two levels. So, level one and level two of the problems that you’re looking to solve. Those would be the experience problems, the interface on the device, this trust element, overcoming overburdened staff by creating training materials, both for them when they talk to their patients, but also for the patients to self-reference when they’re about to use the devices. So, there’s sort of this experience layer. And then of course, the delivery of all of these technologies in connected health and the Internet of Things. Under the scenes or behind the scenes, you have how the devices work. You mentioned earlier, making sure the specifications of the devices that you select are sufficient for delivering the services. But then you’re gonna be selecting applications. You have the telecommunications providers. And then you have the logistics of physical delivery, or even simply the acquisition, procurement, provisioning, activation, profile delivery, those elements. We haven’t talked about that yet. And I know this because we worked together on it. But maybe talk a little bit more about that as well. Because the top part only works with the bottom part being in place too.

0:21:21.6 DM: If you don’t have the logistics, it doesn’t matter how good your experience is. ‘Cause you won’t have anything to deliver. So where in the physical side of the Internet of Things and the delivery of your solutions have you evolved your thinking and learning? And maybe what were some of the biggest surprises there?

0:21:38.7 LO: Yeah. You’re right. Behind a device, there’s a network. Let’s start with that. Well, we started back in March of 2020 to talk with clinics all over the country. And I still remember this clinic in Kentucky who talks about patients being in areas that are very remote. And basically, there is only one service provider, local, not of the top…

0:22:10.6 DM: National.

0:22:11.6 LO: Right. It’s more local one that has any signal going there. And we had patients in different areas. And just because a clinic is in one area doesn’t mean all their patients live in the area were served by the same…

0:22:27.4 DM: Of course.

0:22:27.9 LO: Have the right signal. And we need a good penetration here because you have cell phones being used across the home. And so you need to have really good coverage. And that’s very important. So basically going back to working together, I think that was one of the key things we worked on together, is actually bringing those relationships with large and small and local carriers, mobile network operators, MNOs, to have the right coverage to be able to serve these patients. The other part is, you talked about it, is the fulfillment part, is procuring the right devices. And we have partners who are basically expert at this. And this is important, the phones. Remember the conversation we had about this patient who gets a device for just one use. That’s a heavy logistics use case because the patient gets a device, they use it one time, they have to ship it back to us. The device is going to be recycled for the next patient. Of course, sanitized physically and also data-wise. We wipe it clean from any patient data and so on. And so yeah, we actually say it’s selected very carefully, the right logistics partner to help us with this whole process of deployment, to optimize it and so on.

0:24:02.6 LO: And it’s quite complicated ’cause sometimes, as you know, appointments get set up for these visits and then you get re-scheduled. And you don’t want it to be. So there’s a lot of complexity in doing this, which we had to address. One thing we didn’t talk about is customer support.

0:24:19.8 DM: Right. Of course.

0:24:21.3 LO: Which is, again, going back to who do we serve? People who have high needs, who are not savvy. So if people pick up the phone and call our support number, there’s actually a person who picks up the phone. There is no IDR or chatbots or fake…

0:24:42.2 DM: Anything like that. [chuckle]

0:24:44.6 LO: A humanoid or whatever it is these days, that take your calls. The good news is that support group is not heavily stressed. We don’t get a lot of phone calls. Because we took care of the problems upfront. But it’s there. It’s there for the patients. It’s there for the providers as well.

0:25:05.1 DM: Yeah, that’s wonderful. Maybe we can transition into the discussion of how telehealth has morphed into much more monitoring. Remote patient monitoring is a term that we use in our conversations but also in the industry to talk about the delivery of more complex care. But you had mentioned that what really happened starting in 2020 was a tremendous acceleration of digital health. I think you and I have known and others, especially beforehand, that there’s capabilities of doing remote sensing and have existed for quite some time. But whether or not anybody used it, whether or not there were reimbursement codes for it, whether or not they even made sense, and certainly whether or not people would allow it and do it in their homes was not necessarily there across the wide portion of the population. But March 2020 through January of 2022, this has all been truncated. And one of the things we talked about was around how the need to overcome digital access was required, but also what it’s opened up is things that probably were going to become ubiquitous in a few years are suddenly very relevant, very important and widely available. And so solving some of those problems has become very salient right now.

0:26:21.3 DM: And I know that that’s an area that you are focused on in particular, thinking about moving from telehealth into serving your customers and partners with broader remote patient monitoring solutions. Just talk a little bit about that process, what you see, and in particular, some of the areas that you and your team are kinda focused on there.

0:26:41.7 LO: Yeah, sure. And you’re absolutely right. These technologies that we know have become so mainstream, were not totally unknown, it’s just that for many reasons, they were not widely adopted.

0:26:56.1 DM: Right.

0:26:56.6 LO: And the digital transformation, well, everybody’s been talking about digital transformation as you know for the past few years, and all of a sudden it’s called digital acceleration, but it has hit healthcare very hard and that’s exciting. It’s scary a little bit for the industry in having to adapt, but it’s quite exciting. And so, it has been known for some time in healthcare that bringing the care to the patient is always the right, the best way for the patient.

0:27:31.5 DM: Yeah.

0:27:31.8 LO: If you think in the very old days, doctors used to actually go to the house.

0:27:34.8 DM: Into your home. That’s right exactly.

0:27:35.3 LO: To make house-calls, right? And now, all of a sudden, they have a sick patient sitting and waiting, in a waiting room with other sick people.

0:27:42.2 DM: Sure.

0:27:42.2 LO: And having to travel and all these things that are complicated and make it harder to receive treatment. So this trend of bringing healthcare to the patient is now getting a huge shot in the arm.

0:27:58.6 LO: So it started with telehealth. It served a need. It is imperfect. But now, the wave that’s really rolling fast is remote patient monitoring, which is the idea of enabling the patient to self-monitor their vitals in their home or wherever they are, rather than having to go… If you think of your blood pressure, right? You go to the doctor once a year and they take your blood pressure, if you had to rush to get to the doctor because you were late, your blood pressure may be higher than normal just because you have to rush to the doctor, right? Some people, when they see a doctor, their blood pressure goes up, right?

0:28:50.7 DM: Of course.

0:28:50.9 LO: Some people are generally nervous about being in the doctor’s office, so you get this point in time which may not reflect your normal readings. And so now the trend is about… And people know it, hypertension experts, and we work with some of them, know that usually you need like a seven-day average.

0:29:17.3 DM: Right.

0:29:17.4 LO: And you need to measure it twice a day, and each time take two measurements, so readings twice in the morning, twice in the evening, over seven days and average that.

0:29:28.4 LO: That’s the gold standard of monitoring your blood pressure. This is not for everybody. This is for people who have the risk or have the condition and so on, and guess what? About a third of Americans have hypertension. Considering the latest guidelines, that’s a lot of people who will need this.

0:29:50.8 DM: Absolutely, yeah.

0:29:52.9 LO: And it’s one of the leading causes, until COVID showed up, of mortality worldwide. So now, there are very good devices on the market, there are a lot of devices on the market, not all of them are approved or guidance concorded, whatever, there are some medical terms for this. And it’s a cuff, they connect via Bluetooth, typically to a mobile device, some of them are wireless. So now think about this, sometimes people have hypertension, may have diabetes as well. A lot of these comorbidities and so on, now you need another device that measure glucose.

0:30:33.5 DM: Sure.

0:30:33.8 LO: And maybe they need to monitor the weight, right? A lot of people also have all these issues, they’re sort of comorbid, right?

0:30:42.3 DM: Of course.

0:30:43.3 LO: So now you can start to see the complexity and now you need a patient, sometimes these devices come with different apps, sometimes there are some apps that talk to all of them, but sometimes not, and so now you have this problem of not just downloading an app, but now you need to figure out Bluetooth.

0:31:01.7 DM: Yeah.

0:31:02.3 LO: So we started to address this problem and although on our device, we’ve connected with pretty much any RPM vendor. We actually have been working with a vendor in Canada, they’re not an RPM company, they do the software, so they work with all the approved forefronts.

0:31:23.9 DM: I see, yeah.

0:31:24.9 LO: But they have the software that sort of is the glue, it’s an app on the device, and there’s a portal for the care manager, and they have all these capabilities that a physician needs, right?

0:31:37.6 DM: Sure.

0:31:38.1 LO: And it makes it easy for the patient, and then you can give access to a loved one, maybe if it’s an older patient and maybe the children wanna monitor the patient or something, and that you can do as well. But this is about finding the right device, the mobile device that has the right Bluetooth, Android, everything, the app is downloaded when the patient gets it, what we’re doing also, we’re integrating the telehealth in the RPM app. It’s all integrated.

0:32:09.4 DM: They’re coming together, absolutely.

0:32:10.7 LO: Yeah.

0:32:10.9 DM: Because you need the ability to not just get information from your doctor or instructions of what to do, but sometimes the ability to talk to them, there’s a merging of those that’s natural and absolutely. So then, maybe just to close out, I wanna bring two questions together into one, we talked about the fact that staff is over-burdened because they’ve had to give sort of emergency-level care for two years. And one of the things that’s happening, and I know this anecdotally from a couple of friends of mine who are in the healthcare world, nurses and doctors and physician assistants that everybody’s burnt out. That I can anticipate significant resignations sort of that as this clears up, where people are doing this out of a sense of duty, they joined healthcare because they cared and they had a mission to do that. But this has been so difficult that I’m sure many people are considering trying to do something else, at least for a little bit, because it’s just been so difficult.

0:33:11.3 DM: The technology in the ways that we’ve just started to talk a little bit about how in artificial intelligence, machine learning and simply pulling large data sets together to be able to anticipate certain things without a care provider even needing to be able to look at the set of data, but rather being given alerts about conditions of potentially being able to intervene. What are you excited about from what these sorts of technologies and the application of analytics on big data can provide here? But also, do you see this as a way to potentially alleviate some of the challenges that are likely to come as the healthcare staffing world continues to be heavily burdened over the next couple of years?

0:33:58.4 LO: Certainly, data is one of our key areas of focus. As you would guess, when a patient is using one of our devices, there’s a trail which we safeguard and we use very appropriately. But you can start to see that this is a way to better understand the use, the trends, and so on. To me, there are two things here. Yes, the industry is over-burdened. Certainly using technology as much as possible to like, for example, the patient self-monitoring is certainly very helpful. The unfortunate thing that we’re gonna be facing here is that, you’re right, the industry is exhausted. And there is already a lot of attrition at the same time as the population is getting sicker.

0:35:00.0 DM: Right. And older.

0:35:01.5 LO: To me, this is… Well, older. But COVID made people sicker than they would have been without COVID.

0:35:07.7 DM: Correct. Yeah. Absolutely.

Summary:

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in healthcare in leaps and bounds. Now more than ever, care managers and healthcare providers are considering what it looks like to care for patients remotely – in a way that is secure, reliable, and accessible to their patients, many of whom are impacted by the digital divide.

In this episode, Dominic speaks with telecom expert Liliane A. Offredo-Zreik, Co-Founder of Sano Health, a Kajeet partner, about her company’s research and development of telehealth tools. Liliane also shares the trends she expects to see in healthcare over the next few years as the industry grapples with care provider burnout and the “home hospital” emerges.

About Liliane:

Liliane A. Offredo-Zreik is a former senior executive with significant experience in the telecommunication industry. Prior to her founding role at Sano Health, she held senior roles at major telecom and cable operators as well as major vendors. Liliane is a telecom industry expert, with her research and advisory efforts focused on how technology is driving profound change in healthcare.

About Dominic:

Dominic Marcellino is the director of strategy and business development at Kajeet. In this role, Dominic is responsible for expanding and strengthening Kajeet’s partnerships with system integrators, device manufacturers and solution providers, leading strategy for product and sales teams and refining customer experience. An expert in product, business development and sales with extensive expertise in bringing low-power IoT applications to market, Dominic’s strategic guidance strengthens Kajeet’s market position as a premier mobile virtual network operator for global enterprises.

About Kajeet: 
Kajeet is a managed IoT connectivity provider working to enable connections for good. Founded in 2003, the company provides optimized IoT connectivity, software and hardware solutions that deliver safe, reliable, and controlled internet connectivity to nearly 3,000 businesses, schools and districts, state and local governments, and IoT solution providers. Kajeet is the only managed IoT connectivity services provider in the industry to offer a scalable IoT management platform, Sentinel®, that includes complete visibility into real-time data usage, policy control management, custom content filters for added security and multi-network flexibility. Whether to enable digital access that ensures student success, empower companies to connect and control devices in the field, or offer support and a platform to launch a complex mobile solution, Kajeet is trusted by many to make powerful and flexible wireless solutions easy. Kajeet is available for hybrid and multi-network access across all major North American wireless networks, globally in 168 other countries, and on multiple licensed and unlicensed networks. Kajeet holds 39 U.S. patents in mobile technologies. To learn more, visit kajeet.com and follow us on Twitter.

Transcript:

0:35:08.9 LO: Just either because they got COVID, especially in the beginnings of COVID, or because they put out this on their regular care.

0:35:17.7 DM: Yeah, that’s right.

0:35:18.8 LO: So there’s a trend, unfortunately, of people becoming sicker on average. And, of course, the existing conditions are people living longer, I mean, the ones you know about. So technology is gonna be used more and more to help. And I think we’re seeing the beginning of these patients doing some more self-monitoring, and so on, better tools, better intelligence, AI, and ML, and so on. The other thing that we didn’t talk about here is… And we see this as the government now is putting this whole spending to bring broadband to areas that have been underserved, right?

0:36:02.4 DM: Right.

0:36:02.4 LO: Which is $43 billion to build out the internet, right? And I think what you see also is, although you and I, people we work with have access to a hospital, people who live in the remote areas, they don’t.

0:36:16.6 DM: They don’t, that’s right.

0:36:17.6 LO: And it could be two hours away. So bringing the hospital to the patient is something, it’s a very fascinating area that’s developing very fast.

0:36:27.9 DM: Definitely.

0:36:28.6 LO: It’s called the home hospital basically. And there’s a company called Medically Home that is actually getting a lot of traction and investment from the Kaisers and the Mayos and everybody that’s working on this. And that’s a great opportunity from it, telecom, if you think of back to where we started, how can telecom help bridge the healthcare divide? Now we’re seeing telecom bring even a bigger divide, which is now that the geographic divides as well. That’s not the only use for a home hospital. There’s all the research points, the fact that patients actually heal faster in their home rather than… And look, who wants to be in a hospital, right?

0:37:11.9 DM: Right, exactly. You’ve arranged the space to be what you want. Often people can see outside, there’s all the… plants. These are the things that we’ve learned over time that actually help people heal faster and feel more comfortable. Yeah. And you’re right, earlier, you’ve mentioned about the spiking of blood pressure and other things, stress that occurs by being in… The place where most people will be least stressed is at the home. Obviously, there’s lots of stress in people’s lives and in their home. But the hospital just pulls it all together and focuses it on that, just sort of like for many people when they go to the dentist. But at home, you have many other things that help soothe and make one comfortable. And certainly, that makes a ton of difference.

0:37:51.5 LO: Yeah. People have pets at home.

0:37:53.2 DM: Yeah. Right.

0:37:53.5 LO: They have loved ones at home. Yeah, the other thing that’s true for elderly, isolated patients, the doctor or the care provider can see things in the home that may be contributing like I heard this somewhere, “Is the window broken?” There’s draft of air. The patient is too poor and too old to fix it. And that’s compounding what the industry calls social determinants of health, right? Does the patient is in the right environment? Do they have the right social support capabilities and so on? So you can see these in the hospital, it’s a very isolated environment. So that’s a whole big trend. I think it’s a very exciting journey. We’re just at the beginning of something that I think I see unfolding very fast over the next few years.

0:38:43.7 DM: I do too. That’s wonderful. And we’ll end on that note because I do think that in addition to there being lots of complexity, there’s tremendous promise, especially for better health for more people and in the vision that you just laid out. And we look forward to continuing to working with you at Sano Health and delivering that. And I really appreciate your time, Liliane. Thanks for stopping by to chat with us.

0:39:05.6 LO: Well. Thank you, Dominic. And certainly our partnership with Kajeet has been the fundamental to everything we’ve been able to accomplish and hopefully many more accomplishments to come together.

0:39:16.8 DM: Absolutely. [chuckle] Appreciate it. Thanks again.

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