Here at iMedicalApps, we are always interested in physicians-turned-software entrepreneuers, since we feel the best technology solutions in medicine will most likely arise out of an intimate understanding of clinicans’ problems. We recently reviewed Dr. Ivor Kovic’s iPhone CPR Pro app and accompanying cradle (link), which are designed to enhance the administration of CPR. Below, Dr. Kovic takes some time to answer our questions about his practice, his thoughts on the future of medical technology and his experience thus far in launching Ivor Medical. Be sure to check our Facebook page since we will be giving away promo codes for CPRPro later in the day.
Can you describe your practice?
I currently work in an ambulance service in Croatia, where apart from my regular duties as an emergency physician, I also acts as the head of the department. My ambulance service covers a large and challenging terrain, with both urban and rural areas, a highway on one side and rural gravel roads on the other. Each shift is intense and different, challenging me and keeping me alert all the time, and that is what I enjoy most. Apart from my main job, I have a lot of other duties. I consult for a medical device company, work with another company which handles international transfers of critically ill patients, conduct research to finish my PhD, participate in Red Cross activities, and so on. Since this was not enough :), I am now trying to bring a new medical device to market.
What made you become interested in medical technology?
Ever since I was a kid, I was crazy about computers and technology. I guess my father played a great role in this. He bought several computers for me when I was very little and those machines were pretty rare back in the days. When it came down to deciding what I wanted to do in my life, it was a difficult decision. I passed admission exams for both engineering and medical school. Medicine eventually won, but my love for technology has never diminished and has in many ways shaped my medical career as well. This intersection of medicine and technology is where I feel most comfortable.
Do you find many of your colleagues share this interest?
Unfortunately, no. I have surrounded my self with people who share similar interests, both in the real and virtual world, so it is sometimes tempting to thing that we are a majority. However, we are still not. But things are slowly improving, doctors are adopting information technology faster than ever. People sometimes think that health workers are special, that we are more resistant to new technology. I believe this is not the case. Things are really simple, we just don’t want trash, we don’t want bad things. Who would like to use an electronic patient record that sucks, that is poorly designed and complicated. I have the feeling that a lot of medical device and software companies thing that complex is somehow smart. But no, please give us simple design and intuitive user interfaces. We are the same as anyone else, we like our iPods and Google search engine, things which are simple and just work.
How do you use your smartphone (and iPad) in your practice now?
I use my iPhone on a daily basis in my practice. Literally I cannot imagine my self without it. It helps me in so many ways, from the most simple tasks like keeping in touch with other rescue workers when we are in the field or finding ICD codes, all the way to the most advance skills like resuscitation, where I use it to help my team with CPR feedback, which allows us to always provide the best chances of survival and good recovery to our patients. Some of the ways I use my smartphone can be seen in the presentation I gave at the beginning of this year during Mobile Monday Amsterdam event called Mobile Health (link).
In December I will talk more about mobile phones and numerous ways they can help in resuscitation during Resuscitation 2010 congress organized by European Resuscitation Council, which will take place in Portugal (link). I am still not using my iPad the way I would like to. You can say I am still experimenting, and still a lot of things need to come together, like the new software update which will bring multitasking and printing capabilities. I have high hopes for this device, and have a feeling it will do great things in medicine. During the last decade or two, Apple was rarely the first to introduce a certain device, but when they did, they got it right. I have seen a lot of tablet projects fail in hospitals an even in ambulance services, but if certain things come together, the iPad could be the first big success.
In what ways would you like to use your smartphone/iPad in the future?
I would like to use my smartphone and my tablet as a media center in my living room. The device which integrates everything you have in your living room, your computer, your PS3, your Wii, your great surround speakers, your cable TV, everything. My ambulance car, my patientŐs room, my ward, is similar to my living room, to my house. I also have a lot of devices, equipment, databases, libraries there, and I would like to access and control them from my smartphone or my tablet. I would like to see real time monitoring on it, communicate using video with my colleagues and patients, order and receive tests, send messages, write or dictate findings, find guidelines and papers, everything you can ever imagine. A lot of these things exist, but do not still work seemingly together. To get this done, it will take a lot of work. But someday our devices will most definitely transform into medical tricorders from Star Trek.
Had you started a company before Ivor Medical?
I have contributed to several companies during the years. Some of them vanished and some of them thrived, but this is the first time I have personally started a company and all the responsibility lies solely on my shoulders.
What have been some surprises, good or bad, so far for Ivor Medical?
The most pleasant surprise are the people I work with. I met a lot of great and motivated people who share my passion and are willing to work hard in order to create something new. It is incredible that you can still find people whose biggest and first motivator is not money, people who still believe in some values. I have to mention some of them, because they truly deserved it. Guys from Istria Innovation Association who helped me with my patent applications and took me to international innovation fairs, Ana Pernar who did a great job with our visual identity, Tanja Stipisic an amazingly talented product designer, and my friends from Noven who turn all the ideas we have into functional prototypes. The process of collaborating with these people is very satisfying and educational by itself, so it will be worth it even if all the product ideas I have fail miserably.