Back in June of 2012 I wrote about Swimming with the Sharks at the Microsoft Kinect Accelerator Demo Day and my experience serving as a mentor to some of the young companies involved in the Accelerator program. One of those companies was Jintronix out of Montreal, Canada. Founded in 2010, Jintronix was working on a solution to improve physical medicine and rehabilitation solutions using computer software. I was particularly impressed after meeting the company’s young CEO, Justin Tan. He told me the story of his father who had experienced a serious stroke while traveling overseas. The father, ironically a doctor of physical medicine, needed years of rehabilitation. Thankfully he recovered. But after observing what his father and his entire family went through so his father could get that therapy, Justin knew there must be a better way. You see, Justin is an electrical engineer. He and a few of his friends set out to create a more accessible, efficient, and engaging way for patients to participate in physical therapy.
Over the ensuring years, I’ve stayed in touch with Justin and Jintronix. In fact, the company moved it’s headquarters to Seattle to be closer to Microsoft and some of the investors who have supported the company’s growth (By the way, I am not one of those investors).
I remember a conversation I had with Justin over lunch several months ago. I told him what I always tell young companies that are looking to make their mark in healthcare. Healthcare is hard. The industry is highly regulated and slow to change. Not only that, but the road to monetization is often far more challenging for solution vendors in healthcare compared to any other industry due to the complex relationship between the payers and providers of care. The usual rules taught in business school simply don’t apply. Furthermore, if you are doing anything that touches clinical medicine and patient care, the FDA is likely have oversight. However, as I told Justin, companies that play by the rules, cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s, are far more likely to reap the rewards of their due diligence.
Today, Jintronix has reached an important milestone. The company has announced that it has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the Jintronix rehabilitation system. According to the company, the FDA clearance is the first time that the Microsoft Kinect has been approved for use directly by patients in a healthcare setting.
I’ve mentioned on HealthBlog before, that as I’ve traveled the world, I've seen a lot of excitement and many, many solutions that use our Microsoft Kinect sensor for either Windows or Xbox in applications designed to improve health or healthcare in some way. In physical therapy, the motion tracking, visual feedback and flexible platform of the Kinect sensor make it ideal for providing the immediate feedback that patients, and the clinicians caring for them, need. The Jintronix system combines game development theory with common physical therapy exercises to provide patients an optimal rehabilitation experience. In addition, the clinicians caring for them have unparalleled transparency into how the patient is progressing.
Ahead of today’s announcement, Jintronix was featured in an article by Dina Bass in Bloomberg BusinessWeek. You can also learn more about the company in their own press release on winning FDA clearance. In that press release I am quoted as saying, “Jintronix's work to assist with the delivery of physical therapy by leveraging Kinect technology, brings together themes that are resonating with therapists, physicians and patients around the world. While the patient receives a more fulfilling and engaging experience during physical therapy that is easy to access and provides immediate feedback, clinicians are getting more information than they have ever had before--information that is transmitted via the cloud and informs therapists about the patient's day-to-day progress. The promise is for therapy that is more efficient, more personal, more convenient and can help lower the cost of care while improving outcomes. We believe that this clearance from the FDA is an important turning point for Kinect technology in physical therapy, and also a recognition that healthcare is on a clear path toward change."
So, congratulations to the entire team at Jintronix. I look forward to your future growth and accomplishments in improving the patient and clinical experience with physical medicine and rehabilitation programs everywhere.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft