Last Friday I had the opportunity to meet the Founder of Digital Health Start up Walk With Path Ltd. (Path) is an award winning company seeking to reduce the risk of falling for people with mobility issues caused by injury, ageing and serious diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Path’s products aim to prevent injury, increase confidence for the wearer, and create greater independence by providing tactile feedback and visual cues to aid walking.
Founder Lise Pape gives Salus Digital an exclusive interview on her background and the future for Path.
SD – Hi, could you please introduce yourself ?
LP – Hi, I’m Lise. I’m originally from Denmark, but moved to London in 2001. Initially just to work for a year. That then became 14.
SD – Where do you live ?
LP– Clapham, London
SD – What is your background ?
LP –I studied Human Biology at King’s College in London. Afterwards, I worked for a number of years in various industries, including advertising, banking for JP Morgan and business development for the Danish Embassy. In 2012, I decided to go back to study at Imperial College and the Royal College of Art. They have a unique double masters in Innovation Design Engineering. It was the ideal combination for me, as it incorporated design, which I had wanted to do for a long time, with science. When I finished in 2014, I founded my start up company, Walk With Path Ltd (“Path”).
SD – Please tell us about Path ?
LP – Path is developing wearable products that reduce the risk of falls in vulnerable individuals. Not only will this reduce the risk of injury, but also improve confidence when walking and ultimately maintain their independence and quality of life for longer. Our products comprise an insole for shoes, Path Feel, which helps the wearer to feel the floor better, through providing active feedback, and Path Finder, a shoe that provides visual cues for the wearer to follow to help with the foot movement and gait.
Path Feel is designed for individuals with sensory deficit on the bottom of their feet, such as the elderly, people who have sustained injury or persons with serious diseases such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. Path Feel uses tactile cues through the sense of touch, to enhance sensory perception of the environment and trigger movement. It also incorporates sensors to collect data about the individual. This may help to better understand disease on a personal level and across populations.
Path Finder triggers movement and prevents falls by administering visual cues. Path Finder is specially designed for Parkinson’s patients who suffer from Freezing of Gait (FoG), where they feel as if their feet suddenly become glued to the floor. Visual cues have been found to break FoG and we provide these through the shoes of the user, removing the need for help from others or multi-tasking. We expect that Path Finder may have broader applications in future.
(Lise’s “Path Finder” technology )
SD – How does it benefit patients ?
LP – Path’s products will enable better quality of life for the wearer and can lead to a reduction in spend for healthcare providers. There are about 5 million people in the UK living with mobility related issues and 1 in 3 people aged 65 and over fall each year. Evidence shows that this risk can be cut by up to 55% through exercise to improve strength and balance. Falls currently cost the NHS £2.3 billion yearly. With the number of people over the age of 65 in the UK expected to double to 20 million by 2050 and the prevalence of Parkinson’s Disease doubling by 2030, falls will have major impact on healthcare costs and quality of life for the individual and their families.
SD – What is your route to market ?
LP – We see our market as global,with the US and Europe as our biggest initial markets. Although our products could be sold as consumer products, the most valuable opportunity is to register the devices as medical devices and to seek reimbursement. This will allow us to gain the best pricing and promote the product with medical claims. Key to either route however, is the need to demonstrate the benefits of our products and user testing and validated clinical studies will be required along with health economic data and analyses. We are close to finalising our study prototype and have started engaging clinicians regarding clinical studies. All in all, we expect to be able to launch our first product, Path Feel, within 2 years.
SD – What do you see as your biggest challenges ?
LP -Our next critical steps are obtaining funding, patient validation and further product development. As a small startup our resources are scarce, and therefore our immediate challenges are around funding and setting up and conducting patient studies in order to validate the efficacy of Path’s products. Further down the line, once we start commercial activities, we expect that our challenges will be around market penetration and generating awareness about our products. This may require a network of distributors or a potential licensing deal with a commercialisation partner. We try to be dynamic, so as a small team, we are able to put our efforts towards the challenges that may arise.
SD – What do you see the digital health landscape being in 2020 ?
LP – I think that wearables and big data will significantly change the current landscape. At the moment, we do a lot of monitoring to gather data, and I think that wearables is still trying to find its role within healthcare. With our technology, we are trying to take wearables one step further, by providing active feedback in a physical and natural way, in addition to the monitoring we see from wearables today. Generally, technology is moving at a much faster pace than healthcare, so I expect that the uptake of new technologies will largely depend on regulations and how it is integrated into healthcare.
SD – thanks for your time
Thank you as well.
For more information on Path please visit www.walkwithpath.com