Mobile Applications in Healthcare

How to build a MedTech startup?

An interview with Neuro Rehab VR

Building a healthcare startup is not a simple task: The risk is higher than for almost any other vertical, the costs of building and launching a healthcare product are huge, and, on top of that, the regulatory clearance might take a long time.

While the above sounds terrifying, there are plenty of cases highlighting that it's fully possible! To keep your morale high up and provide valuable insights we've decided to ask for advice from a company coming straight from the healthcare frontline: Neuro Rehab VR.

We've talked to Co-founder Veena Somareddy and Business Developer Henry Weber, who are responsible for fulfilling company's mission and growth. Before we dive into their advice, let's start with some introductions:

Neurological rehabilitation and physical therapy using VR technology

Neuro Rehab VR is a healthcare startup based in Texas. It develops virtual reality exercises for neurological physical and cognitive therapy that leverage concepts of neuroplasticity to increase patient engagement and motivation with the ability to measure and quantify progress with real-time data feedback.

Exercises provide functional goals and other features for neuro impaired patients. Exercises included also benefit physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, along with overall better physical and mental wellness.

Let's hear their advice:

What’s the medical problem your product solves?

With more than 800,000 people in the United States alone suffering from a stroke or traumatic brain injury every year, there are countless still waiting to be treated. The medical problem we strive to solve involves aiding and expediting an individual’s recovery from a stroke, brain injury, or other neurodegenerative diseases. Patients spend 30 to 60 minutes a day in formal therapy at a clinic. For a lot of patients, physical therapy can be tedious, exercises are done mindlessly, and sometimes they don't feel much progress being made. They are not utilizing their full brain potential to form, reorganize, and rebuild neurological pathways. We want to help these individuals have easy and cost-effective access to the therapy they need to help them lead an independent lifestyle. We believe our VR solution will help patients to stay engaged and fast track their recovery for physical therapy and neurological rehabilitation.

How did you acquire the first users?

We conducted user experience testing with physical therapists and patients as our focus groups by partnering with local clinics. We also deployed our systems as pilots to clinics and hospitals across the US, so that we can gather information from various types of users including researchers, physical therapy clinic directors, owners, inpatient rehab facilities, and more. The use cases for each type of clinic and customer vary for the same product, so this was helpful to receive feedback from different perspectives.

Did you search for any external funding to get the product up&running?

We applied for federal grants in addition to the internal funding.

What was the process of idea validation before you’ve started to build an actual product? Any specific tools or methods you’ve used?

We started meeting with physical therapists to ideate a new therapy module, gather requirements, and receive feedback for our ideas. Next, we created a game design document with details on the game mechanics, user interface, and various 3D assets required to build a particular therapy module. Features of the prototype were developed for testing and then stretch goals were added into the design document.

How did you scope the MVP? How did it look like in the end?

We created a bare minimum prototype first, let the physical therapists try it out, give us their feedback, add in additional features, and continue to update the modules.

What kind of external support did you ask for when building your product?

Lots of feedback from potential customers, physical therapists, and patients.

Could you describe your experience of collaborating with software development teams? Did you find any aspect of it difficult and what helped you improve that collaboration?

We build most of our software in-house but have worked with software development teams previously. A defined timeline with a detailed statement of work along with making sure that the development team working on your project has the skills to finish the project all helps to improve collaboration and efficiency. The statement of work also helps to determine the cost upfront and milestones that need to be set within a certain time frame to help catch issues early on and reach deadlines on time.

Would you say your product has created the desired impact on society and healthcare in general? Or are you still fighting for it?

We still have a long way to go, but we have had great traction with our customers and have seen the impact being made first hand. Every product always needs more features that would make it better and we are still working on them.

What challenges did you encounter when developing the product and what did you learn from overcoming these obstacles?

Developing a product for a healthy individual is very different from creating a product for a vulnerable population with certain disabilities. We had to add certain features and make the user experience as seamless and easy to use as possible for our patient population.

Is there any advice you’d like to share with other founders who’d also like to reshape the healthcare?

Make sure you understand the pain points of your customers before you create a product. As you talk to your demographic of patients, clinicians, or customers, you may come across pain points that you, as a developer, might not have thought about. This could dramatically change the product you were envisioning for the better and also have a better product-market fit, compared to going in blind and building the solution first.


Wrapping up

We honestly believe that the input above will have a great impact on those who’d like to roll up the sleeves and just like Neuro Rehab VR start shaping the medical market and accessibility towards better healthcare.

And coming back to the introduction, let us emphasize again: building a healthcare startup may not be the easiest thing in the world... but with the user-centered approach, dedication and leverage of medical breakthroughs, you also should be able to clone the success!

Appropriate use of technology might come in handy as well. To learn more about immersive technologies in the healthcare startup market, we strongly invite you to familiarize with our dedicated guide to AR & VR.

Let us know about your healthcare startup idea.

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