Coworkers vs. Crisis #4 – Lucia Kvapilova from HealthMode
Lucia Kvapilova is a member of our Prague’s coworking space HubHub Palác ARA. She works as a Product, Strategy and Operations Lead for HealthMode, which drives progression to next-generation clinical trials by developing and delivering AI-enabled digital measurement methods for clinical trials. Take a deep breath, this Coworkers vs. Crisis interview is really enriching!
How did the current situation affect your business?
In medicine and healthcare, the recent crisis has accelerated the slowly rising trend of virtualization and digitalization. What does it mean? Research companies, pharma, hospitals and doctors are looking for solutions that will help them conduct research or provide their services or care over the distance while keeping the patients in the safety of their homes. For us, this means that there is a rising demand for decentralized products and solutions. And we can definitely feel that, as we’ve been as busy as never before these past months. We are even being a part of a few projects directly related to COVID-19 response, for example, an application where employees can report their symptoms so that their employers can evaluate the risk of the person coming to work when they may be sick, and hence be able to protect their workers from spreading the disease.
How did you adapt to this situation?
We expanded our cough research! Cough is one of the symptoms we have been heavily researching. And it happens to be also one of COVID-19 disease symptoms. We formulated a hypothesis that covid coughs may sound differently than non-covid coughs and machine learning models trained on a large amount of data may be able to provide some help in differentiating these sounds. Therefore, we started a study where we are collecting cough and covid-related data to test this hypothesis.
We are researching symptoms for diseases like Crohn’s IBD or IBS, which basically means we have an app that takes pictures of poop.
What other interesting projects are you working on?
To name some, we are quantifying motion and activity data in various clinical contexts, for example performance status in oncology patients. Simply put, the sicker the patient is, the less active they are, which plays a role in the selection of treatment of further actions doctors may decide. We are also looking into effects of pain on people’s activity and function across various diagnoses, researching automated analysis of bowel movements and other Gi symptoms for diseases like Crohn’s IBD or IBS (which basically means that we have an app that takes pictures of poop), or plan to create a mobile screening vehicle that is loaded and can drive to patient’s home to conduct research, instead of them going to the hospital. It’s definitely a lot of interesting things!
Key learning point?
Current times are hard. But if there is an opportunity for your business or product to serve a need that has suddenly arisen (for example remote work, digital processes, low-contact solutions, etc), just do it. The advantage of small companies and startups is that they can execute fast. So these companies should be able to respond well to the shifting trends that the current situation has brought us, provide value to their customers and become successful in a meaningful and ethical way.
What kind of opportunities or challenges are you going to face in upcoming months?
There are always opportunities and challenges – for us it is, for example, starting some of our research in Europe, where the rules and regulations are a bit more strict than in US. Another bucket of challenges is our interactions with regulatory bodies we are starting to execute on. Oh and also, standard startup struggles – recruiting, fundraising or execution on projects. But that’s true for all of us :).
How can you help other coworkers in HubHub?
It’s hard to say because right now we don’t know what other coworkers need help with :). I can say for myself that we’ve probably used all of the mobile app distribution options that exist. We worked with some large corpos, had to get familiar with EU and US regulations. And then basic startup stuff – building your product and selling it. We are not experts on any of that, but always happy to share learnings and experiences to learn from each other.