qutbluebox Innovation Challenge Finalist: MedAugment – Q&A

medaugment

MedAugment is the second of our Finalists for this year’s bluebox Innovation Challenge. We spoke to MedAugmnet’s Dr Alireza Ahmadvand to find out all about MedAugmnet and what they hope to achieve with their augmented reality innovation. Read on to find out about the second of our Challenge Finalists!

What is MedAugment?

MedAugment is a smartphone-based augmented reality solution. It enhances consumers’ engagement with their medicines and medical devices. It helps in visualising interactive, digital, and dynamic consumer medicine information and it is available throughout the medicine or device use cycle.

MedAugment links health literacy improvement with the medical condition and it helps in increasing the safety of using medicines and medical devices.

Who are the people behind it?

The multidisciplinary team behind MedAugment is comprised of healthcare practitioners (pharmacists, physicians, and nurses), augmented reality developers, digital media experts and researchers, pharmacy business development managers, patient engagement experts and researchers, health policy analysts, and health educators.

What is your connection with QUT?

MedAugment’s team leader, Professor Lisa Nissen, is Head, School of Clinical Sciences at QUT. Dr Alireza Ahmadvand is a Research Scholar at School of Clinical Sciences, working on augmented reality under the supervision of Lisa. Professor Jean Burgess is Professor, Digital Media Studies at QUT’s Creative Industries Faculty. She is also the Director of QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre. Tyronne Curtis, Director of Activate Entertainment, is a business partner to QUT’s School of Clinical Sciences.

How long have you been operating as a business?

Members of the team started working on various digital health projects since August 2015, with the formal MedAugment coming together in late 2015.

How did you come up with the idea for MedAugment?

Alireza started the idea of bringing augmented reality to healthcare products. The first informal discussion happened between Alireza and Kara Burns, one of MedAugment’s collaborators from QUT Business School. Then, Professor Judy Drennan, a QUT Business School senior academic, an expert in mobile marketing and social marketing, and one of MedAugment’s collaborators supported the development of a concept around improving health literacy, patient engagement, and changing behaviour using augmented reality, together with Lisa. Later, Tyronne joined the team as a business partner to bring his expertise in augmented reality development platforms. Then, Jean joined the team to bring her expertise in digital media, especially in regard to customising user experiences around mobile solutions using app walkthrough.

The idea was pretty much around consumer/patient engagement and improving health information exchange, right from the start. The team started building partnership with external collaborators to develop business cases, prove the concept, and create business models.

Do you have any experiences in startups or business?

Lisa, Jean, and Tyronne have experiences in developing start-up businesses. Lisa has experience in building start-ups around health-related products. Jean has been a key mentor and informal consultant in the context of the QUT Social Media Research Group for the Hypometer team (Hypometer is a commercial-grade social media analytics framework developed by a QUT-based start-up). Tyronne runs his own business, Activate Entertainment which focuses on augmented reality, virtual reality, game development, and filmmaking.

What has been your biggest challenge with MedAugment to date?

The biggest challenge with MedAugment has been to choose the best medical condition for the validation of the concept. The team has decided to proceed with diabetes and asthma at this stage. However, MedAugment is useful for any medication, any age, and any condition.

What has been your greatest success with MedAugment to date?

The greatest successes with MedAugment have included:

  • A subsidiary of MedAugment, ARx, has received funding from QUT Engagement Innovation Grant. The project focus is on using augmented reality for patient engagement in type 2 diabetes.
  • Another subsidiary of MedAugment, VIVACITY, has been shortlisted by Asthma Australia to provide full application for possible funding. The project focus is on using augmented reality for children engagement in managing asthma.
  • Another subsidiary of MedAugment, VALID, has been shortlisted by Heart Foundation to provide full application for possible funding. The project focus is on using augmented reality for managing hypertension in diabetes.
  • Last, but not least, being among the finalists at bluebox’s Innovation Challenge!

Where do you find inspiration and what entrepreneurs are you influenced by?

What inspires us the most is the beauty of teamwork to solve real-world problems. Digital technology is the main interest of all the team members. We get excited when it comes to a new usage and application of technology for health purposes. We find ourselves discussing new ideas for long hours and developing concepts for collaboration around that. The ultimate joy would be to see people are effectively using our solution, MedAugment, to improve their health condition.

What would it mean to you and your startup to win the Innovation Challenge?

It would be great recognition for the commitment of our collective, focused, and dedicated team. But, most importantly, it would provide the support, advice, and opportunity to grow MedAugment into an integral part of the healthcare system.