Practice Fusion founder launches heart-monitoring wearable

The smartwatch is less than half the price of the Apple Watch and has three days of battery life, compared to 12 hours, said iBeat founder Ryan Howard.

The founder of Practice Fusion, the largest cloud-based EHR platform in the U.S., launched a startup that is developing a wearable device.

The company's first product, iBeat Life Monitor, is a heart-monitoring smartwatch that can detect cardiac arrest, heart attack, and atrial fibrillation, said Ryan Howard, founder of Practice Fusion and iBeat. Howard stepped down from Practice Fusion in mid-2015.  

“On Thanksgiving day last year, a childhood friend of mine passed away in his sleep,” said Howard. “He was 40 years old at the time and healthier than anyone in my circle. When he passed away, it made it that much more impactful and became the genesis of the idea.”

See also: Wearables have yet to move past the hype

This idea was a stylish, clean-looking wearable-as-a-service device with built-in sensors that constantly measures a user's vitals such as heart rate 24/7. If the smartwatch senses any irregularities, it engages the user by asking whether he or she is O.K. If they reply ‘no' or don't respond within five seconds, the watch instantly sends data via a cloud-based platform and alerts the users, their loved ones, and emergency responders in real-time. Loved ones can also get weekly or monthly updates on a user's health.

“As you get older, there's a deterioration in the heart,” said Howard. “If you have a cardiac arrest now, you have a 90% chance of dying if you're alone. We have a call center that facilitates the calls to 911, and the device identifies your location via GPS.”

Howard said he plans for the smartwatch to launch on Kickstarter in a presale this fall, and also plans to make it available in outlets such as Amazon and Best Buy. The product is priced at $200, and there will be a “nominal” monthly fee to keep their call centers running.

Compared to products such as Life Alert, an alert system for seniors, which is not cellular and does not have sensors, Howard said iBeat's wearable targets people who are between the ages of 50 to 70 years old to empower them to have the “freedom to be fearless, explore, and live longer lives,” which is the company's mission.

See also: Startup unveils tools to improve trial reproducibility

Howard added that the smartwatch is less than half the price of the Apple Watch and has three days of battery life, compared to 12 hours. In addition, it has an algorithm that monitors heart rate and cellular partners, which the Apple Watch does not have.

“I think it could potentially be a diagnostic device that people could wear 24/7,” said Howard. “People walk around with lung cancer for four to five years without knowing it. We could get into larger disease states and predict you have a disease state.”