Penn Center for Innovation

I-Corps Blog: Animotion

Posted on July 17, 2015 — Kat Hinkel

Week 1

Our goal for last week was to evaluate our two main customer segments, athletes and patients with joint disease. Our hypothesis was that they will be interested in using Animotion to monitor their joint function. To test this idea, we conducted a consumer product survey to assess the reaction to our product and value propositions. So far, five people have answered our survey. Initial data indicate that there is a demand for our device and that there aren’t similar products on the market. Our biggest challenge is to make it accurate and comfortable for people of all shapes and sizes, while allowing their natural movement. Additionally, we need to ensure our customer’s privacy during data collection, storage, and presentation to others. Our next steps are to continue the product surveys, as well as expand the survey to physicians, physical therapists, and researchers to better understand our other customer segments.

Week 2

Last week, we interviewed six more potential customers who fell under either the athlete or general consumer customer segments. The results of our interviews were promising in that all of the interviewees were interested in wearable health monitors and would be willing to change their behavior based on the feedback provided by such a device. Comfort was still one of the leading attributes as the interviewees indicated they would be far less likely to wear the device if it interfered with their daily activity or exercise. Our plan for this week is to focus our next interviews less on the athlete and general consumer segments and more on the physician and physical therapist segments. We hope to find which needs are unique to these segments. Additionally, it would be great progress to see if we can determine through our interviews whether the appropriate path to market is via retail or prescription.

Week 3

We interviewed five customers this week who fell under a variety of our customer segments. These included a physical therapist, two athletes, one athlete/patient, and a physician (orthopedic surgery resident). The results provided us with a range of perspectives that we had not yet received in past weeks. The conversations with the physical therapist and physician helped us understand the potential uses in a clinical setting as well as the way such a device would be purchased/recommended and used by patients. We learned that it would most likely not be sold directly to patients (ie. in a pharmacy), but it would more likely be recommended by a PT or physician and paid for by insurance. We plan to continue interviewing more physical therapists and physicians during the coming week.

Week 4

We continued investigating whether joint monitoring will provide valuable information with potential to improve patient outcome. We interviewed a young athlete/patient with a severe hip injury, an older patient with two recent knee injuries, and three orthopaedic surgeons at Penn. For patients, physical therapy can be extremely time-consuming and/or expensive, and may not be covered by insurance, limiting access to crucial post-op rehabilitation. The ability to exercise appropriately at home and track recovery progress are very important to them. For surgeons, monitoring range of motion (ROM) is critical for total knee arthroplasty and ACL reconstruction, and changes in ROM (or lack thereof) may indicate surgical intervention. ROM is one of the most important parameters of the physical exam, and the most important value from physical therapy reports. However, ROM measurement is normally subjective in the exam room – it takes too long to measure and record quantitative values with a goniometer.

Week 5

We completed more interviews this week with two orthopaedic surgeons, a certified athletic trainer, an older patient/athlete, and a younger patient/athlete. All surgeons said that trend data coming from a single, objective source would be highly valuable in their practice. The athletic trainer noted that measuring joint symmetry may be useful, since many patients overcompensate for an injured joint and end up straining another part of their body. The older patient/athlete is very active and had to alter his exercise routine after injury so it was less stressful on his knee. While he would be interested in tracking joint mobility post-op, he would not wear the device if he wasn’t injured. Similarly, the younger patient/athlete would only wear the device if he was currently injured as he wouldn’t be willing to deal with the discomfort of a brace in normal circumstances. Interestingly, cost was not a specific concern for him because his team covered his medical expenses.

Week 6

We spent this week coming up with an appropriate, realistic multi-year financial forecast based on the teachings from the past week’s Wharton SBDC course. While we found it very hard to feel comfortable in the assumptions we made to build our forecast, we found the exercise useful to be able to know all of the financial aspects of development that we should be accounting for in our projections. We plan to continue to tweak our financial forecast as we think more about our company’s goals and needs, especially if we are to make any significant changes to our development plan. Fortunately, all of our efforts during these past course sessions will be able to be directly integrated into the upcoming Pitch Day presentation.

Category: i-corps, i-corps-team-posts