One school day in 2015, Frank Nguyen came home to find his mother at the bottom of the staircase. At the hospital, the physician determined that she may have fallen down the stairs after suffering from cardiac arrest, however there wasn’t data of the event for them to properly treat his mother. His mother has various health issues like partial blindness, trouble hearing, being prone to dizziness, and life-threatening heart issues. This made Frank very concerned about what would happen in case of an emergency again and she was alone.
This inspired him to create a small wearable device that would notify EMS and himself if his mother is in an emergency situation. This concept was further developed when he got his friend Andre Bertram. Soon after, they founded the company HelpWear together in Ryerson University’s Biomedical Zone program – an incubator for medical startups. They envisioned a device that would monitor, collect, as well as transfer data 24/7 live to clinics, as well as contact close relatives and emergency medical services in case of the person going through an emergency situation. This product would allow the EMS to more efficiently treat patients on scene based on the data collected.
Currently, the standard heart monitors – Holter Monitors – available for patients to use, has a lot of wiring attached to their chest, limiting the daily activities that can be done. These heart monitors are also only capable of being worn for 2-3 days. That being said, they discovered that there was a large market and need a smaller convenient product, as there are over 17 million critical heart patients in North America alone. The HeartWatch that HealthWear are creating is designed to be worn for long periods of time while being affordable, accessible, and monitored remotely by clinics, as well as offering 24/7 live data about the wearer.
In 2017, Frank and Andre pitched their company to Canada’s successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists on the show “Dragon’s Den”. They were shown on episode 4 of season 12, and all of the “Dragons” showed great interest in the company and were surprised at how young they were at the time, 18 and 19 years old respectively. One of the “Dragons”, Michael Wekerle commented in surprise that there is no product like this on the market, and that they are so young, yet managed to enter and disrupt a difficult industry and network like that. In the end, all of the Dragons were in on the deal of investing $100,000 for 12% of their company.
As of 2019, HelpWear is undergoing clinical trials of their HeartWatch and are in the process of getting regulatory approvals in the U.S first, then Canada. Recently, they announced that Dr.Derek Exerner will be joining the company as the Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Derek Exerner is a renowned cardiologist and the Canadian Research Chair in Cardiovascular Clinical Trials.
Inspired by Frank’s concerns for his mother’s health issues, the device that was once a bulky yellow wrist device in 2015, has now transformed into a small, lightweight watch waiting to be released worldwide by 2020 to change millions of peoples’ lives.
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