Interview with Katherine Kawecki, Director and Cofounder, Respia
There are many different kinds of mobile devices to help people with chronic diseases. Asthma is one of those diseases, which can be monitored with wearables to improve everyday life. Especially for parents, the stress and anxiety which come with asthma-afflicted children can be reduced with a reliable solution like Respia.
In this MEDICA-tradefair.com interview, Katherine Kawecki talks about the wearable application to help parents and children with asthma.
Ms Kawecki, why did you decide to develop Respia?
Katherine Kawecki: Respia was actually my university honors year project at the University of New South Wales. At this stage, I spent a year researching challenges that people with asthma face. While researching, I found quite a big gap in the preventive therapy market. There was nothing to manage the disease before it becomes serious and diminishes the quality of life. That was one reason for me to develop the wearable. The other reason is that my father, brother and I have asthma, so it is a very personal experience for me. I thought the market needed a fresh approach to managing asthma and to improve the understanding of your own lung condition.
The skin-worn asthma management device is attached to a patch and resembles a stethoscope.
Why did you choose a wearable patch for the asthma management?
Kawecki: It seemed to be the most convenient and the most accurate way, since it is almost like a wearable stethoscope. Moreover, the way we decide in the algorithm whether there is an impending exacerbation or not is based on what is happening inside the lungs. After that we look at other signs like the heart rate and the respiratory rate. But if you ask most respiratory specialists’, they first look at what is happening acoustically in the lungs. So that is what we do as well.
How does Respia track the respiratory health?
Kawecki: As mentioned before, Respia checks the same things a doctor would look at in an auscultation. Then it makes an educated prediction based on probabilities of both demographic data combined with historic data of the individual user. We chose this approach because every person and every child has a different physiology and emanate different sounds. We have recently lodged regional patents and received the WIPO assessment result of all our claims as both novel and inventive.
Respia is recommended especially to parents of children with asthma, why did you choose this as your primary target group?
Kawecki: From our user experience interviews with a variety of different stakeholders, which are doctors, people with asthma or generally different demographics with asthma, we found this to be our target group. Children with asthma are the most vulnerable to attacks and their parents the most prone to misunderstanding of the condition. Especially the group aged between three to thirteen are those too young to understand what is happening to them and to be aware that it is actually an asthma attack, not a stomachache. Moreover, parents of children with asthma are very anxious and are already ready and willing to find solutions for this problem. This shows that there is also a big need in this particular demographic.
More topic-related exciting news from the editors of MEDICA-tradefair.com:
Children between the ages of three and thirteen in particular are too young to understand what is happening to them and often do not know that this is actually an asthma attack.
When will Respia be available for the public?
Kawecki: That depends a little on some timelines, which are out of my control. We definitely had a few delays due to COVID-19. However, I would like to say that it would be available once the TGA (therapeutic goods administration) and FDA (food and drug administration) pass it and we have finished all our trials. Currently we will start running some early pilot clinical trials soon.
Is there some advice as a young entrepreneur you would like to share?
Kawecki: If there are any readers out there that are aspiring entrepreneurs and particularly young women in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, I would like to encourage them to take the first step. I think it is important to believe in yourself and take any opportunities that arise. Sometimes those opportunities might not come at a time that is convenient for you and you might not be ready yet. But it is better to put your name in the hat when there is an opening than to wait until you are ready and there are no more opportunities. And please find me on linkedin if you would like some guidance in starting your own medtech idea.
The interview was conducted by Melanie Prüser. MEDICA-tradefair.com