Spry Health

Designing a comfortable vital signs-tracking wearable that people actually want to wear.

CEO: Pierre-Jean “PJ” Cobut
Based: Palo Alto, California
Founded: 2013

The scoop: Despite the wide availability of medical devices aimed at remote health monitoring, many people with chronic illnesses don’t seem to be using them—and, as a result, still end up in costly hospital stays and emergency room visits, says Pierre-Jean Cobut, co-founder and CEO of Spry Health, developers of a clinical-grade wearable called Loop.

Spry describes the Loop as the first noninvasive ambulatory device that provides continuous, beat-to-beat vital sign measurements outside the hospital, without the use of catheters or calibrating. By collecting a patient’s daily physiological changes, it aims to help patients and physicians better manage their care and reduce hospitalizations.

What makes Spry fierce: As Cobut and his colleagues completed their user-experience research, they noticed patients were not necessarily tech savvy—and that what they really want is just a convenient way to know their body’s condition and to manage their stress. They designed Loop to do just that.

Built as a wristband that looks like any normal fitness or activity tracker, “it’s meant to look like a consumer device so that the patient can wear all day long,” Cobut says. “And it’s comfortable. It’s not something that stigmatizes you as a sick person.”

But in terms of capability, Loop is like many devices packed into one. It measures blood pressure, respiration rate, heart rate and pulse oximetry—all without drawing a single drop of blood—and streams vital sign data to Spry’s AI-powered analytics platform.

“What we’ve decided to do is basically center the experience around the patients first,” Cobut says. “And in exchange we can have the clinical data on them on a daily basis and turn that into insights for the care provider so that they can intervene whenever is necessary.”

One major obstacle with a biosensor that relies on optical signals, such as the Loop, is data accuracy. Light-based signals can be incredibly fragile, with too much movement throwing off readings, Cobut explains. But Spry has already built its technology “to re-create the right signals even in noisy conditions,” he says.

And to help drive adoption, Spry works with different health organizations and their remote monitoring programs so patients don’t pay for the device out of pocket.

User-friendliness is a big selling point for Loop. About five months into its initial deployment, Spry is seeing 92% of users wear Loop on a daily basis for at least three hours. That, according to Cobut, is a very encouraging number, with compliance rates generally hovering around 15% to 20%.

Setting up Loop is also simple from the logistical standpoint, says Cobut. It doesn’t require Wi-Fi or a smartphone, and instead of collating data from multiple sources and devices, it offers a straight-out-of-the-box solution. Moreover, Spry’s system does the legwork of analyzing the data and identifying signs of deterioration before symptoms arise, and takes steps to notify physicians.

Spry is currently expecting to receive 510(k) clearance for the Loop wearable by the end of March, though the company plans to further refine the device. On the technology front, Spry wants to keep pushing the envelope to be able to grab more data points and increase their accuracy and motion robustness. It will also try to improve the hardware, making it more comfortable and visually appealing, Cobut says.

And on the analytics side, as Loop gains more traction and its user base grows, Spry’s data bank will expand exponentially. By combining physiological data with qualitative data—such as the medications patients are taking, any hospitalizations and other measures—Spry hopes to build better predictive models so that it can alert physicians as early as possible.

“[Loop] is our product for the foreseeable future, but the capabilities of the products itself will expand,” Cobut says. “That, to me, is a much more interesting way to broaden our scope than to build a second product that is a little different.”

Spry Health