Justin Keenan of Lusio Rehab tells us about wearable tech and software development for the gaming and data ecosystem.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Justin Keenan: We are very well, thank you. Our family home is north of Sydney on the Central Coast of Australia, so by default, we can socially distance quite easily.
Australia has also resumed to a kind of normal, so we are very fortunate to have the freedom to get out and about.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Lusio Rehab.
Justin Keenan: Having spent the best part of my career before Lusio within IT recruitment, specializing in real-time systems such as banking and gaming. Originally from the UK with some 15 years of experience in commercial IT, I emigrated to Australia in 2014, where I had my first taste of leading a team and building a business from the ground up. This is where I met my business partner, Armin, who later co-founded Lusio Rehab with me.
Armin’s background is in robotic engineering. He had been asked one day back in Iran, before emigrating to Australia, to help a Doctor friend of his who was having trouble ensuring that a young patient of his with Cerebral Palsy adhered to his physical therapy routines. Armin conjured up a ‘therapy toy’ by customizing an off-the-shelf remote-controlled car. When young Arshia, the boy in question, did his therapy movement exercises, the car moved back and forth; Arshia was delighted and engaged, and the problem for Armin’s Doctor friend was solved.
Fast forward a few years, and a number of sliding doors later, Armin and I found ourselves working together, as I had been employed to help vet prospective candidates for positions. A great working relationship and friendship ensued, and one day he told me the story of Arshia. Safe to say, it was a lightbulb moment! I knew within the story there was an incredible vision to help people with their boring and mundane therapy routines. Within a very short while after that conversation, Lusio Rehab was born.
How does Lusio Rehab innovate?
Justin Keenan: As a designer and manufacturer of wearable tech as well as software development for the gaming and data ecosystem, we work hand in hand with medical experts as well as the individual clients who ultimately benefit from LusioMATE. Our innovation is born out of their specific needs.
We take client feedback which feeds directly into our R&D process and in turn evolves into innovation/upgrades and development of the product and platform.
In truth, we have never swayed from the Lusio origins where Armin was presented with the problem of Arshia’s lack of adherence to physical therapy routines. Armin is a born problem-solver, and, as Head of Tech at Lusio Rehab, he continually drives us forward in his pursuit to solve problems for the ever-growing Lusio Family.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Justin Keenan: We have a global team working across multiple time zones, so the traditional workplace model never existed for us. We no doubt felt the early effects of uncertainty during the first lockdown, and of course, having built the business up to that point via a lot of face to face consultation and demonstration, we were suddenly presented with the need to pivot quickly; like so many people and businesses around the world.
Luckily for us, our tech lends itself perfectly to the Zoom boom that rose up overnight during the lockdown, and we were able to easily pivot to showcasing the product via Zoom demos. Furthermore, with one of the key benefits of LusioMATE being that it extends the impact of face-to-face appointments beyond the clinic, we were immediately presented with an opportunity. At-home therapy and telehealth became the hot topic in healthcare, and we were perfectly placed to help clients and their health care networks maintain critical therapy and rehabilitation programs.
All in all, our efficiency as a team and business improved our client experience, as well as our sales.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Justin Keenan: In truth, we didn’t have to make too many ‘difficult’ choices as such. We had to pivot and think on our feet, and from that, we learned that being a small team made it easy for us to make such choices and changes quite easily.
As touched on earlier, we shifted from in-person sessions with hospitals and clinics to telehealth. We also redeveloped our onboarding process to ensure greater usage with at-home therapy.
The introduction of a short-term paid trial period also allowed us to scale while providing a low-cost option to our clients, which ultimately lowered the barrier to adoption.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Justin Keenan: Digital Health and innovation is a hugely important sector as we see demand for services grow across the globe. The rising tide of innovation in the health domain is here, and there are a number of businesses using apps and wearables across the health domain, which is super positive, but I don’t view them as competitors.
Our R&D function works 24/7 to build on what we have today to ensure we exceed our clients’ expectations tomorrow.
Your final thoughts?
Justin Keenan: We chose the gamification of therapy. More specifically, we chose to make custom games in which players could only play by doing movement activities prescribed by their clinicians (Prescription GamingTM.). This sounds easy, but to not replicate the mistakes of Wii and Xbox gaming therapy ( we call 1st wave game therapy), we invented 2nd wave game therapy. That is, therapy gaming is not retrofitted onto mass-market devices but rather a specifically designed clinical gaming ecosystem. Our subjects trialed an exact movement tracking device which can be used to play games on any mobile technology anywhere, any time. Importantly, because it’s mobile, clinicians and patients can agree on programs in the clinic or via telehealth, and the patient can then play anytime, anywhere. Furthermore, we built remote tracking, reporting, and prescribing into the system, so clinicians can remain connected and engaged with their patients’ therapy outside of the appointment too.
After 4 years of self-funded experimentation on every aspect of commercializing and launching a business with a purpose, we now have clients across the globe with increased motivation who, for the first time, are adhering to their clinical program when not in clinic/hospital.