In general, humans are doing well. We have developed new treatments and medicines for all kinds of diseases, and our lifespan gets longer and longer. However, it also means our healthcare system is under more pressure. Fewer people work in healthcare, and the workload is ever-increasing. That is why stimulating innovations in healthcare is more important than ever.
The CareTech Network Program helps startups in care or assistive technology to expand their network and thereby realize innovations in healthcare. In six weeks, they receive masterclasses and access to various stakeholders in the social domain. Finally, a jury selects the most promising idea. The winner will receive an opportunity to run pilots with the help of the municipality of The Hague, the Netherlands.
Last year, MedAssist.online won first prize: their Live app makes remote care assistance possible. Thanks to ‘two-way’ augmented reality (AR), a doctor or nurse can provide step-by-step real-live aid to patients. In this interview, founders Walther Boon and Remko Huigen discuss their experiences with the CareTech Network Program and show where they are now with their startup.
Congratulations on winning the award in 2022! What is MedAssist.online?
Walther: MedAssist.online helps provide remote care to anyone – anywhere. I am a doctor and mainly work in the maritime industry. It is an enormous challenge if you have a medical problem as a captain at sea. There is no hospital nearby. At our training center, captains learn to provide necessary care assistance. That’s where the idea for MedAssist.online came about. So, now we also offer applications for remote care. Of course, these can be used everywhere, not just at sea. With that in mind, we participated in the CareTech program last year and won the prize.
How has the CareTech program helped you?
Remko: It is beneficial to talk to many stakeholders: the municipality of The Hague, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, hospitals, healthcare suppliers, investors, and, of course, other startups. It is nice to exchange experiences and add various parties to your network.
Walther: Participating in the program also helps to validate your product. The jury consists of people who understand it, from YES!Delft and Innovation Quarter, among others. It’s a good sign if these experts think your solution is a good idea.
How has winning the award helped the growth and development of MedAssist.online?
Remko: We will start a trial this month with a supplier of care devices. For example, people often return wheelchairs with problems easily solved at home. So, we are going to help repair care devices remotely. That was an unexpected turn because we monitor care cases in the maritime industry. We are also preparing another trial, which focuses on remote care assistance on land.
What advice would you give to medical startups considering getting involved?
Remko: There are many startups with good ideas, but they need to remember to validate them properly. We sometimes forget to do that, too. I recommend engaging in market research and product validation as early as possible. It’s a cliché, but you really have to work from the needs and problems of your target group.
Walther: Within the program, relatively objective experts give their opinion. Participating in a program such as the CareTech program offers you an opportunity for honest feedback.
What is the most positive experience you have had with MedAssist.online?
Walther: With the help of satellites, it is possible to establish fast and stable connections at sea, which can be a technical challenge. Last week, a Greek doctor at sea quickly resolved a care problem thanks to our Live app. That’s precisely the sort of message that inspires me to keep going. Of course, it’s nice to win prizes. But helping people with our technology is the best part of my job.
Remko: The idea is simple: you start the Live app, log in, and help each other. Making it happen is challenging, but our technology works both at sea and on land. We have created something that benefits people, and that makes me happy.
MedAssist.online helps people remotely with care situations everywhere: at sea and on land. The app has many possibilities, and thanks to the CareTech program, MedAssist.online is testing various uses of their versatile app. In addition to the pilots they run with the municipality of The Hague and additional partners, they are also open to other collaborations.
If you have a technology that can help people live independently at home, sign up for the CareTech Network Program. Visit this webpage for more information.