Insurance companies are turning to advanced technologies for far more than assistance with pricing plans and engaging their policy holders. Today’s advanced technologies are also being embraced to help insurance policy holders avoid claims and mitigate costs.
We’ve seen that in the home, where Internet of Things (IoT) devices are helping to identify leaks before they create significant water damage. We’re even seeing it on farms, where insurers are encouraging the use of precision farming equipment to help reduce risk for crop insurance policy holders. And, now, we’re seeing it in the healthcare and life insurance industries, as well.
Just this week, it was announced that the venture capital organizations within reinsurance and insurance industry giants SCOR Life & Health and Transamerica were investing in a new healthcare device that is poised to help improve the health of patients with heart conditions and to help them get help for problems before they become emergencies. That device is the Heart Watch, and it’s the creation of an organization called iBeat.
We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Ryan Howard, the Founder and CEO of iBeat, to discuss this round of funding, iBeat’s Heart Watch solution and why insurers are so enticed by it.
Here is what Ryan had to say:
Insurance Tech Insider (ITI): What is iBeat’s Heart Watch? How is it different the heart beat monitors found in watches and devices like Apple Watches, FitBits and Garmins?
Ryan Howard: The iBeat Heart Watch is an everyday watch that monitors a user’s heart rate, blood flow, and oxygen levels for unsafe parameters. We analyze data in real-time to look for potential life-threatening cardiac emergencies.
If something appears to be off, we ask if the user is okay. If the user indicates they are not okay or do not respond within ten seconds, our around-the-clock dispatch team will be contacted. Within seconds of an emergency happening, our dispatch team who will send the appropriate help – police, firefighters, paramedics, or even just a loved one – to the user’s location.
The watch also has an emergency help button that can be pushed at any time to get them aid, and users and their designated family members will have access to an online dashboard where they can see their overall heart and activity metrics.
While some may compare iBeat to other smartwatches (Apple, Samsung, etc.) and wearables (Fitbit) on the market today, we are not a fitness tracker or an extension of one’s cell phone. We are a lifesaving device. We consider our product to be a cardiac-focused health and safety device addressing the PERS (personal emergency response system) market.
While PERS products have been around for decades, the product offerings remain the same – large, stigmatizing pendants users must wear around their necks. The antiquated technology on the market today is simply a panic button with no cardiac monitoring, no passive emergency detection, and no ability to track, collect and share data with their users, yet iBeat offers all these things.
ITI: How can iBeat’s Heart Watch help improve someone’s health and help decrease mortality from things like heart attack and other chronic health conditions?
Ryan Howard: In a life-threatening cardiac emergency, the iBeat Heart Watch will instantly alert the user, their loved ones, and emergency responders in real-time, helping ensure immediate care delivery and potentially saving the user’s life.
By speeding the delivery of care, we aim to lower the number of deaths caused form sudden cardiac emergencies, especially those that occur to victims who are alone when an emergency happens. Additionally, by quickening care delivery, we believe the Heart Watch can prevent fatal heart incidents, improve the quality of life for those at risk, and most importantly, lower the risk of death from cardiac arrest.
No other smartwatch, heart-rate monitor, or PERS device on the market currently does this.
ITI: The company has recently received investment from SCOR Life & Health Ventures and Transamerica Ventures. Why was iBeat a solid fit for these companies and their portfolios? Why were these investors a good fit for iBeat?
Ryan Howard: Our missions are fully and wholeheartedly aligned – we both believe in improving the quality and extending life. Through technology like the iBeat Heart Watch, people can improve health outcomes and increase their chances of survival from a life-threatening event.
SCOR and Transamerica Ventures clearly recognize the value in investing in technology that advocates for living a long and healthy life, and iBeat is the technology arm that enables life insurers to take action toward having a measurable impact on longevity. Together, we can get the iBeat Heart Watch on more wrists and saving lives.
ITI: In the press release announcing this round of funding, iBeat claims that it will use some of the money to aggressively market to health insurers to get Heart Watches into the hands of policy holders. What benefit would health and life insurers get from issues these devices to their customers?
Ryan Howard: The iBeat Heart Watch is an everyday watch that continually monitors users’ heart vitals and is a way to ensure policy holders are alive, active, and well. In a life threatening emergency, we can deliver immediate medical aid, helping prevent death from sudden and unforeseen emergencies. We can help life insurers preserve the flow of life insurance premiums, delay the triggering of death benefits, and help reduce their near-term contract payouts.
ITI: How do you anticipate that insurers will distribute Heart Watches to policy holders? Do you anticipate them offering incentives to customers that use them?
Ryan Howard: We plan to roll out iBeat Heart Watches to life insurer agents and eventually policy holders. We are currently working with SCOR and Transamerica’s marketing teams to find unique ways to incentive their policy holders. One of these ways will be by subsidizing the cost of the watch and the ongoing monitoring service for policy holders who adhere to wearing the watch on a daily basis and hitting a minimum number of steps per day.
ITI: What is the current status of the Heart Watch? Is it already available on the market? When will it be available? Will Heart watches be available through health insurers only, or can they be purchased independently?
Ryan Howard: No, the iBeat Heart Watch is not exclusive to only health insurers. It is a consumer device and can be purchased independently online. In coming months we also plan to have our product available on Amazon.com.
The iBeat Heart Watch is currently in production and being beta-tested across the U.S. We are taking preorders on our website and will be shipping orders beginning in mid-July.
To learn more about the recent investment round secured by iBeat, click here to read the official press release. For additional information on the company’s Heart Watch, go to their official Website at www.ibeat.com.