We talked to Hans Slijp on how ECG-Excellence delivers solutions to cardiologists, electrophysiologists and clinicians which increases the clinical value of the 12 lead Electrocardiogram.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hans Slijp: We are doing fine, taking care of ourselves and others. Still lucky in avoiding the virus itself.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded ECG Excellence
Hans Slijp: ECG Excellence is a company founded by experienced experts developing technologies for heart patients.
Our scientific base stemmed from a century ago when our fellow Dutchman Willem Einthoven invented the Electrocardiogram.
We follow in his footsteps, and it’s our ambition to change the landscape of non-invasive cardiac diagnostics again!
As a team, we focused on developing technologies to map the inside of the heart (from the outside) when a young soccer player collapsed during a match. He had already a cardiac disorder, and nobody was apparently able to track his disorder progress and see the problem coming.
That’s the moment we decided to initiate ECG Excellence and to move the 12 lead ECG truly to the digital age. Since that moment we learned on average only 54% of ECGs are interpreted correctly, and this is our challenge since we know (and have proven) THERE’S MORE TO SEE IN THE ECG.
How does ECG Excellence innovate?
Hans Slijp: We use standard 12 lead ECG data and reconstruct digital twins of the electrical activity in a person’s heart. We relate the data to the heart anatomy, and this way detect ‘hidden’ cardiac disorders. We also deliver 3D camera guided ECG recording, which makes the ECG personalized in a single recording and (unique) in ECG comparisons over time. The ECG recording technology this way becomes so simple you can do it off clinic at a GP or retail clinic (saving costs and patients travel time).
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Hans Slijp: We encountered a change of plans because we had to adjust the current research program involving patients with heart problems.
We also found new opportunities by adjusting our CineECG technology to support hidden cardiac disorders in COVID19 patients, and we are now turning this into a new product.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Hans Slijp: We had to adjust our planning in product development focus and R&D projects.
Our key lesson is that our technologies even deliver more value than expected earlier on.
We have learned our technology not only supports cardiologists but also helps patients to have a high quality diagnose off clinic.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and ECG Excellence in the future?
Hans Slijp: We are an experienced (senior) team, and to be honest, we had learned to handle stress and anxiety before Covid.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Hans Slijp: Current competitors are the incumbent suppliers of 12 lead ECG recording technology. Their focus is still on the old equipment and training staff and cardiologists in electrode placement and pattern recognition. Other solutions in the pipeline of startup focus on either fixed electrode belts on the bodies of patients. But these solutions are far more expensive and do not deliver the diagnostic value we offer. Our patents (>9) and our data acquisition have put us in the front of the game, and this IP and unique knowledge will keep us there.
Your final thoughts?
Hans Slijp: The new technology opportunities are only beginning to emerge in the domain of cardiovascular diseases. We are moving towards more personalized treatments, and our technologies also support the transition to digitalization and the use of AI in ECG based diagnostics. Due to the variabilities in both body builds and electrode placement, the use of AI in ECG based diagnostics has remained limited, especially in the domain of conduction disorders (our focus domain).
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