Human society, in its entirety, is going through a massive transformation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers have become more conscious and informed about their physical health than before while avoiding going to the hospital and ER to address their medical concerns, especially during the peak stages of the pandemic.
With the motive to take charge of their well-being and better manage their health at home, individuals started monitoring things like blood pressure, heart rate, etc., on their own. People were empowered to do so with the assistance of wearable medical devices that tracked things like the user’s heart rate and blood pressure.
One prominent name on the list of companies that design these state-of-the-art medical devices is OMRON Healthcare, Inc. Since its inception, OMRON has been empowering people to take charge of their health through their advanced devices.
In the following interview, Robert Schneider, Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations at OMRON Healthcare, talks about the variety of products that the company offers to its clients.
Please brief our audience about OMRON Healthcare, its USPs, and how it is currently positioned as a leading player in the Healthcare niche.
OMRON is the number one doctor and pharmacist-recommended blood pressure monitor brand. With nearly 50 years of medical device category leadership, we are passionate about helping patients monitor their health at home and applying this knowledge and experience to transform the global heart health industry.
At OMRON, we introduce innovative, connected heart health technologies, and focus on improving patient health outcomes that serve as the next step toward our mission of Going for Zero, the elimination of heart attacks and strokes. Our most recent innovation is VitalSight™, the first remote patient monitoring service from OMRON. It’s designed specifically for blood pressure management and developed to foster greater patient-to-physician communication.
What other products does OMRON offer, including Machine Vision solutions, and how are these making an impact on the industry and your clients?
OMRON is the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of personal heart health products, which includes a full range of home blood pressure monitors.
High blood pressure is the leading risk factor for heart attack and stroke. According to the American Heart Association, 116 million U.S. adults are in the hypertensive range, and the CDC reports that 37 million of them have uncontrolled Stage 2 hypertension with a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
At OMRON Healthcare, we work to reduce risk, improve outcomes, and save lives by encouraging behavior change and making a suitable blood pressure monitor for each of these individuals.
The pandemic raised awareness of health risks related to underlying health conditions like hypertension and boosted motivations for people to manage their individual risks.
Consumers are buying more connected monitoring devices than ever before, and it’s a trend that’s expected to continue over the next year. According to the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), shipments of connected health monitoring devices such as smart thermometers and blood pressure monitors are expected to grow to 13 million units, up 23 percent, and earn $740 million in revenue a 17 percent jump from 2020.
At OMRON, we have expanded our development and offering of connected blood pressure devices and recently revamped our OMRON Connect app, which provides patients the digital health tools and insights to better understand their condition, store their data, track it over time, and share it with their doctor if they choose to do so.
The OMRON Connect app makes it easy to view your health metrics anytime, anywhere. Syncing wirelessly to your smartphone or tablet, our OMRON Connect app provides real-time coaching to help you make simple adjustments in your daily routine to benefit your overall health and reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Being an experienced leader, share your opinion on the impact the adoption of modern technologies such as AI and machine learning had on the HealthTech space and what more could be expected in the future?
We’re in an exciting time of evolution and growth. For nearly 50 years, OMRON Healthcare has worked with consumers and empowered them to take charge of their health at home through precise technology.
We have developed a standard blood pressure monitoring to help consumers store, track, and share their data; digital heart-health services for high blood pressure; remote patient monitoring services like VitalSight; and we are now working on the future of healthcare to incorporate AI. We’ve collaborated with doctors and care teams and gained tremendous insights on human behavior and doctor-patient relationships to help them with the care they provide to their patients.
Recently, OMRON Healthcare announced an important milestone in its mission of Going for Zero, with cumulative global sales of its home-use blood pressure monitors reaching more than 300 million units as the world’s leading manufacturer and distributor of personal heart health products—and the number one doctor—and pharmacist-recommended blood pressure monitor brand – OMRON Healthcare blood pressure monitors are available in more than 110 countries around the world.
We recently upgraded our OMRON Connect app that works with our connected blood pressure monitors to provide insights and coaching. That helps our consumers understand their condition and take real-time action to change their behavior and reduce their risk. We’re also beginning to explore the role AI can play in this space and help consumers understand that no matter where they might be in their heart health journey, OMRON can help them improve their heart health and their outcomes.
Taking into consideration the current pandemic, what initial challenges did you face, and how did you drive your company to sustain operations while ensuring the safety of your employees at the same time?
The pandemic significantly impacted access to care, and it also sparked an awakening to the power of telehealth and remote patient care. Many physician offices closed or provided limited access to patients. Emergency rooms were full of COVID-19 patients, and ICU beds became scarce in many parts of the country. Many people were scared to go to the ER, even when their bodies told them they should.
Per the CDC, emergency room visits declined 42% during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, four in ten U.S. adults reported avoiding medical care because of concerns related to COVID-19, and reports had shown that heart attack death rates more than doubled during the pandemic, with fewer patients going to the hospital when they were experiencing symptoms of a cardiac event.
OMRON was already well into the development of our first remote patient monitoring service, VitalSight, prior to the pandemic, and pilot programs for the service were in motion.
As the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, medical experts began warning the public about underlying health conditions that carried greater risk for complications from the coronavirus. One of the underlying health conditions that were identified was hypertension.
At OMRON, we played a lead role in raising awareness of hypertension as an underlying health condition for COVID-19 and invested significantly in our digital engagement, encouraging people to manage their health conditions and reduce their risk.
During the pandemic, OMRON also invested significant efforts in bridging health gaps in underserved communities that have long been impacted by health disparities. OMRON partnered with the American Heart Association (AHA), hospital systems, and churches in under-resourced communities to host free blood pressure monitoring and heart health education events to bring resources to residents and listen to top needs to address resource gaps.
The pandemic gave all of us a sense of what it’s like to live with health disparities. There are communities that have existed with limited access to care for decades. And those disparities continue to cost lives.
Additionally, we did our best to ensure the health and safety of our employees, quickly transitioning to working from home. Managers prioritized their teams’ health and safety and focused on keeping them engaged by providing a work-from-home stipend, establishing a newsletter, and increasing the frequency of all-company meetings and questionnaires to gauge employee sentiment.
What would be your advice to budding entrepreneurs who aspire to venture into the healthcare solutions market?
My advice is to listen to the needs of the market – really pay attention to patients, consumers, physicians – what do they need, what are their top challenges? At OMRON, we have been listening to the needs of the market since day one. We started with ‘basic’ blood pressure monitoring – technology that allowed us to pioneer connected devices that helped people store, track, and share their data.
As digital services evolved, we launched digital heart-health services to provide even more personalized, actionable data. Then, we introduced HeartGuide™, the first wearable blood pressure monitor, in 2018, followed with Complete™, the first blood pressure monitors with built-in EKG for use at home, and we were able to come up with services like VitalSight, our first remote patient monitoring service, which meets patients and consumers top pain points, is designed specifically for hypertension management, and developed to foster greater patient-to-physician communication.
For nearly 50 years, we have been at the forefront of technological innovations in heart health and medical device category leadership.
At OMRON, we get to talk to entrepreneurs all the time and listen to people in the space. Our mission is Going for Zero – the elimination of heart attacks and strokes. This is at the heart of everything that we do, every product we launch, and every partnership we form.
When we launched our Going for Zero mission – and made saving lives our quest – we changed how we train our employees, how and why we invest in product development, and how we measure success. For us, success is all about outcomes. That’s the ultimate metric.
We seek strategic partnerships to accomplish our mission as we did with AliveCor, which combines strengths, resources, and technologies to reduce risks, improve outcomes and save lives.
For those budding entrepreneurs venturing into the marketplace, listen to the needs of the market, think big and stand for something admirable, and build solutions around those inputs.
At OMRON, we listen to hear how patients are struggling and how we can intercept this struggle. Listen to see where doctors are encountering problems and how a service/technology can help solve these problems. Address where health gaps exist and have existed for far too long and where you can make a significant difference in helping bridge these gaps.
How do you envision scaling your company’s operations and offerings in 2022 and beyond?
We’re going to continue to see incredible demand for more remote care tools – more connected health devices, smarter apps that coach on real-time action, and remote patient monitoring services to help those facing the highest risks.
At OMRON, we will continue to anticipate, prepare, and respond to the surging need – we will partner with our retail, wholesale, and distributor channel customers, listen to the consumer, innovate to bring new value, and give our patients and physicians tools and technologies that address their needs. Disruptions in the global supply chain are also an issue that we are closely monitoring and taking action on.
We are also making a significant investment into the rollout of VitalSight, an easy-to-use service that physicians can recommend to patients with high-risk levels of hypertension. Patients receive a kit delivered to their home that includes an OMRON-connected blood pressure monitor and data hub that are pre-set to securely share measurements with the patient’s physician and care team.
VitalSight can be integrated directly with the clinician’s Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system or through the OMRON VitalSight Dashboard. VitalSight sends automatic notifications through the EMR that signal when a patient has readings that indicate if action needs to be taken. Expanding this service will get us closer to our Going for Zero mission – the elimination of heart attack and stroke.
OMRON is partnering with the most forward-thinking hospital systems in the U.S., including Northwestern Medicine in the Chicago area. Early feedback from physicians shows that VitalSight is quickly helping doctors improve engagement with patients on their treatment plans.
Data analysis of participants using the OMRON Hypertension Management Platform (OHMP) during the VITAL test showed that hypertension and cardiovascular treatment medical expenses dropped by an average of 46% in the OMRON group vs. control, an average reduction of $108 per patient per month.
As Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations at OMRON Healthcare, Inc., Robert Schneider oversees sales, marketing, product strategy, customer service, and supply chain operations.
With more than 30 years of experience working in the healthcare industry, Mr. Schneider has provided leadership and strategy for OMRON Healthcare’s commercial operations, all of which are vital in advancing the company’s mission of Going for Zero, the elimination of heart attack and stroke. Prior to his current role, Mr. Schneider held various positions in marketing, operations, and finance at both OMRON and Baxter Healthcare.