Meet our DayOne Health Hack 2022 winner!
Martin Valks, and his team won the DayOne Health Hack 2022 with their project Flaryd. Their idea: to diagnose and prevent flares in patients with inflammatory bowel disease.
Read this interview he had with Ursula Costa, our Manager for Digital Health Nation Innovation Booster and Patient – Centered Initiatives:
1. Martin, your project was chosen to win the DayOne Health Hack 2022. Congratulations! How did you hear about the DayOne Health Hack and what did you think about it initially?
Thanks Ursula, the DayOne Health Hack came to my attention due to a BaselArea newsletter. As I am active as Commercial Consultant for the Biotech, Pharma and Medical Technology industry, and interested in the Digital Health applications, I decided to register. I wanted to upgrade my knowledge on how a Hackaton works and learn more about creating digital tools to improve patients’ lives.
2. Which problem do you want to solve?
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients are facing lifelong issues;
• Progressive gastrointestinal disease with a huge impact on quality of life
• Difficulties in your personal relationships
• Fever and bloody diarrhea
• Inability to work or travel
• Constantly in pain during flares
A large and growing number of patients are suffering from this disease. The prevalence is 300-500 patients per 100’000 population, with around 6 million people affected globally.
After diagnosis and treatment of IBD Patients, they can live a normal life, but all the time they are facing dangerous flares. IBD is like a sleeping dragon, that can wake up and wreak havoc in the gut. Once the inflammation is rampant, patients have to go into surgery, get treatments that may have side effects, and be on the sickbed for months. Also anytime their own immune system may make the biological treatment less effective, in which case they will have fewer treatments to resort to. This is an issue as it is a lifelong chronic disease.
3. Why do you think this topic is important? Why is that topic important for you personally?
I have had close contact with thousands of Crohns and UC patients worldwide. This experience has helped me see closely their daily life, their problems, wishes, and overall situation. Part of the problem is that, despite us being in the digital age, we have still not built a tool to help people get a diagnosis of their disease on time to prevent flares. This has touched me deeply enough to do something about it, and here I am.
4. Can you tell us a bit more about your motivation for your winning idea?
We wanted to create a digital tool that provides an early warning with high predictive value, is convenient, non-invasive, real-time, automated, low cost, fashionable, broadly available, integrated with other fitness functions, and provides a “reward” for patients staying in remission.
Proof of concept was available, as a study with Fitbit predicted inflammatory bowel disease flares.
It is time patients are offered a modern early warning tool to help them manage their disease. They can increase their treatment dosage or add a corticosteroid, avoiding more invasive treatments, damage to their intestines and improving their quality of life.
The world is covered with fitbit and smart watches. We will need some months to create the algorithm, design the interface and test it to get to the final App, but we will then use social networks to promote it to the target patients.
5. What is your major takeaway from the two weeks’ hackathon?
One of the major takeaways was the opportunity to focus on patient empowerment. It was a steep learning curve, requiring me to gather information, a team and put together a project and pitch in less than 17 days.
Another takeaway was that the HealthHack is a healthy competition: we learned how to use the tools, access mentors and supporters, and exchange with participants, who were surprised by the good teamwork infrastructure, support, motivation and education. All with the support of DayOne.
Finally, different perspectives on digital health tools were provided by the different presentations and webinars, which included people working at Takeda, Microsoft, Groupe Mutuel, DayOne and the Health Hack 2021.
6. Why did you win the HealthHack (in your opinion and according to the feedback you received)?
I believe I won the Health Hack because the digital health app Flaryd is a feasible and practical tool that can be implemented by the participants in 6 months.
Flaryd is very well thought out and planned: its valuable relies on early warning, as looming flares are identified in real-time, and treatment adaptation can prevent the flares. With the help of AI, a step counter helps to detect flares by counting steps and comparing them to a baseline. The project was initiated by a broad analysis of the issues and has already available solutions. It narrowed down the main issue and a solution with a proven concept.
7. Where were your challenges and pitfalls in pursuing your idea?
We had difficulties getting the team together, and setting up the communication via LinkedIn and Microsoft teams in a short time span to evaluate all the possible options.
Towards the future of the idea, we still need contact and access to people in the field of medical informatics, approval by an ethical commission, and clinical trials. We also need to broaden the scope of the input through IBD patient organizations and confirm if within-person data (eg. step counting) is enough or if more parameters are needed (eg. biomarker data).
8. What advantage did the Health Hack offer you in overcoming those pitfalls?
It offered access to many different disciplines, patients and healthcare professionals. The support by the DayOne team on how to do a project, and instruction on the pitch were also very useful.