Stephen Popovich, an innovator in the data communications field, has more than 30 year’s experience in executive management, enterprise sales, and marketing. Prior to founding Clairvoyant Networks, Popovich, a serial entrepreneur, co-founded and was CEO of Inside Out Networks of Austin, Texas. His company, founded in 1997, established him as a pioneer and leader in mission critical Universal Serial Bus (USB) technology, with his products used in medical, military, and other commercial applications. He successfully sold the company to Digi International (NASDAQ: DGII) in October 2000, and became responsible for business development for enterprise applications involving Machine to Machine (M2M) and IoT cloud-based applications called The Social Machine. In 2015, Popovich left Digi to form Clairvoyant Networks.
HTA -Tell about your personal/professional background?
I was raised in California and attended a school that just started to teach about a new thing called digital electronics. That training led me to my first job in high tech with a startup company that built communication and networking products for minicomputers and mainframes. That startup company was sold to a company that became a dominant player in several parts of the cell phone infrastructure business. That company acquired a small company in Austin, and that led to Austin to becoming home to my wife and me. After getting settled in Austin, I founded two other connectivity/networking businesses that were sold to a publically traded company. Late in 2015 I founded Clairvoyant Networks.
HTA - What was the inspiration for launching Clairvoyant Networks?
I was previously a Vice President of Global Healthcare for a publicly traded company that provided networking connectivity to hundreds of companies involved in healthcare. Some of our customers were involved with remote patient monitoring solutions that demonstrated how useful it was to have a better and more continuous understanding of a remote patient’s clinical condition. This understanding minimized traditional ER visits and hospital stays. One of customers I was working with had some technology for measuring a patient’s walking gait in addition to vital sign monitoring. I was intrigued with the amount of useful information that could be derived from just understanding even small changes in a patient’s walking activities that could be used by family and professional caregivers to understand how they could provide more proactive care. I proto-typed a non-clinical activity monitoring system for my in-laws that gave my wife and me critical insights to what was really happening in my in-law’s life from a statistical/historical data perspective to improve not only their quality of life, but also ours.
HTA - What did you learn from leading previous companies, that prepared you for launching Clairvoyant Networks?
I have blessed to have worked with hundreds of organizations and talented innovators over my 30+ years of experience in working in mission critical connectivity/networking applications that have assisted in creating incredible improvements in personal productivity. I believe we can now cost-effectively leverage these same tools to dramatically improve the lives of caregivers and people with long term illnesses that want to live independently as long as possible.
HTA - With the baby boomer generation coming of age, how big is the opportunity for helping families monitor their loved ones?
In the USA more than 10,000 people retire per day and the ratio of retirees to family caregivers has started to decline. Just the cognitive memory care needs of retirees are now over $172 billion dollars per year according the Alzheimer’s Association. A large portion of those costs are for professional and family caregiving. This situation has become a crisis that now has the attention of federal and state healthcare organizations who are significantly increasing their budgets on innovative grants to address how to keep family caregivers engaged longer periods on time, enable patients with long term illnesses to age in place for longer periods, and minimize ER visits.
HTA - It seems Dementia, Alzheimer's and Autism user cases have responded well to the Theora Connect watch. Any unique stories that you can share?
Yes, we have Theora Care users that now can be more proactive regarding care - even if their loved ones live in another state. Our products have helped caregivers to locate wandering spouses within minutes, determine changes daily activities that may indicate they need proactive help, review historical activities, instantly engage in a two way conversation, and more. Every day we are grateful that we can help a customer respond better and faster to their loved one, while reducing the caregiver’s stress.
HTA - How is the Connect watch different from other IoT wearables in the market right now?
What we provide is a caregiver solution. The Theora Connect Watch is only a piece of the solution but it does provide a unique gateway for other externally networked clinical and non-clinical devices. I am not aware of a similar device that also can act as a cellular gateway. Our wearable is designed for supporting the needs of an elderly population, but from the user’s perspective it is just a simple, comfortable watch. Our Theora Connect platform has as much or more processing horse power, sensor technology and the latest cellular LTE services of most common “Smart Watches”, but our clients require a much simpler user interface than an Apple watch or similar device.
HTA - What has surprised you most about the healthcare industry? What about the "aging in place" ecosystem?
The healthcare industry is primarily focused on reactively treating a patient once they become ill. As a result of the economics of clinical care, these windows of treatment are as short as possible. Today there is a very minimal amount of useful clinical and non-clinical information bridged between an aging in place patient and their family and professional care providers. Family members are interested in finding economical solutions to keep their loved ones aging in place as independent as possible but to also ensure they receive the care they need before it becomes a crisis ER visit.
HTA - What other ways is Clairvoyant addressing "aging in place" opportunities?
We have initially focused on cognitive memory applications in the elderly, but our same “as if you were there” cloud analytics approach can be used for a wide variety of long and short term illness to enable care professionals to be proactive. Diabetes, rehab therapy, post op, and cardio care are some of the topics that we can address over time.
HTA - Are you involved in any partnerships that will help scale development?
Yes, we are engaged in partnership discussions at every level of the healthcare spectrum and in non-clinical home care market.
HTA - Clairvoyant received an award from Caregiver.com this summer. What's the story behind it?
Caregiver.com is a great organization focused on the needs of typical family caregivers. They see just about everything in the technology space to help support the challenges of long term caregiving. We presented our product to them for review a few months ago, and we were honored to receive their 2018 award.
HTA - How do you learn? What are you reading?
One of the cool parts of my job is interfacing with people working on the full continuum of the aging in place ecosystem. That includes the professional researchers and clinicians, the care recipients or honored citizens as we call them. On the other side are the family and professional caregivers that are on the front lines with their loved ones. I am constantly learning how we can provide more effective solutions. We are only in the beginning stages of what is economically possible to completely re-think the aging in place wellness care market. I am currently reading “Shaken” by Tim Tebow. It’s a short read, but I recommend it for those who can use encouragement to keep moving forward and to stay strong while battling life’s obstacles.