Health Tech: Marc Cayle On How Wearable Health Solutions’ Technology Can Make An Important Impact On Our Overall Wellness
Read the room… Know your audience… Make a difference. Listen to the research results and design a product that fills a gap. Sometimes that gap is in your face and sometimes it’s hiding behind an existing solution that is not sufficient. In senior-related technology, it is typically something glaring like the actual delivery of the product. You can have the best mousetrap in the world but if it is drop-shipped to the porch of the senior and they have no way to know how to plug it in, configure it and use it… it will be shipped back, shoved under the bed or even worse… plugged in without knowing how to use it properly.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Marc Cayle.
Marc Cayle’s history as a 20-year veteran of the age in place industry includes leading a multi-territory in-home care agency to award-winning status, as well as launching an internationally recognized remote medical monitoring/PERS product. He has vast experience helping seniors and their circle of care identify the best technology solutions available so they can stay in their homes with the dignity and grace they deserve. This experience serves Wearable Health Solutions well as Marc leads the charge as the VP of Innovation and Development. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
My path has been varied and each step of the way has led to the next phase in my personal and professional life. I grew up in Milwaukee, WI and enjoyed the easy, Midwest lifestyle found there. My father was a double PHD in Microbiology and enzymology and led teams of scientists and researchers throughout his career. My mom held down the household making sure my brother and I had what we needed. We were never given anything as my father instilled a work ethic early to make sure we were capable of getting what we needed through hard work, starting at age 14. I did everything from food prep for caterers to pumping gas and painting houses as a kid. This served me well when I lost my father to colon cancer when I was 21 and a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I was left to fend for myself and pay for school and everything that went with it. I had three jobs and managed to handle the class workload while graduating with almost no debt. One of those jobs was in the kitchen at a high-end restaurant so the food prep from childhood came in handy. It’s how I ate well while in college. They say it builds character and I am that character and would not change a thing, other than the passing of my father, of course. After graduation, I sold halon fire extinguishers door to door at people’s homes. That gave me the sales background I needed for group health insurance that came next. I met the founder of a franchise selling him health insurance and he hired me to launch and lead the franchise sales organization. I met the founder of a franchise consulting company and began a career helping people find the perfect franchise for them and along the way, purchased three in-home care franchises that I came across during a client’s due diligence on the company. This is what launched my senior related pathway understanding the huge gap in technology in their homes. I have dedicated every work moment since to make sure seniors and their circle of care have the technology they need in order to thrive in place, not just survive.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
My in-home care franchises had over 250 caregivers going into senior’s homes each day and I identified the gap in technology in the homes they visited. The circle of care was always asking questions that we had no way of knowing. Clients were taken to the hospital during the night and no one knew so my caregivers would show up and no one would be there. Many times, the caregiver would get to the house and the client would be on the floor for hours unable to notify anyone. This led me to launch a company dedicated to bringing a product to market that would fill that gap. I raised $6M to develop the product from an idea on a napkin to full production in the US. The product had the ability to remotely monitor everything from a SOS button to full vitals with threshold breach alerts, chronic care management and even IoT connectivity to home technology so when someone pressed their SOS button, the front door would unlock to the EMS did not have to knock the door down. The product was premium priced and did not get enough traction so we sold the IP to another company. I brought a Bentley to market and the market wanted a Honda. I earned an MBA from the school of hard knocks for sure and this experience has served me well as I continue my career.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I don’t feel that there is one particular person… it takes a village. I credit my parents for instilling a great work ethic. I credit the founder of Breadsmith (the franchise that I helped start), Dan Sterling, for instilling the importance of fiscal responsibility while running a company. He was a Harvard MBA from a middle-class Chicago family. He saved post-it notes and paperclips, which drove me crazy until I understood that cashflow is king and having no debt leads to financial freedom. I credit the founder of FranChoice, Jeff Elgin, for his great leadership style and fantastic public speaking ability. Most of all, I am grateful for my wife, Linda, who has supported me in every crazy entrepreneurial decision I have made. Some were great and some were financially devastating to our family. We are high school sweethearts and she has seen it all. Nothing is more important than family support. She is a fantastic business person and has a sound fiscal mindset that has served us well.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is “If you can’t get beyond fear, do it scared”. Everyone has fear and if you don’t there might be something wrong with you. There is irrational fear and rational fear. Irrational fear is learned from outside influences that create head-trash. An example would be if I wanted to buy an in-home-care business and my uncle, who came over for a holiday dinner, states that he had a horrible experience with his caregiver once so it would be a bad idea. It just makes no sense and is not relevant to my situation. Rational fear is a byproduct of lack of knowledge. If there are things that I don’t know about caregiving, I can easily find out the answers to my questions and reduce the fear with every question I ask.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
A good work ethic is the key to anyone’s success. There have been many days when I wanted to stay in bed and not deal with the hard decisions I needed to make that day or go on another sales call. Ultimately, if I stayed in bed, I would miss opportunities that propel the business to the next level.
Humility is as important as any character trait. There is always someone who thinks they know more than you and wants to be sure you are aware of it. The ability to hold your tongue and allow them to have their limelight moment will lead to getting insights about them that can be critical to a business relationship, or deciding not to work with them down the road. I have been in numerous experiences where a person just drones on about their success and how important they are. If it doesn’t add value to the specific discussion or outcome, why boast when you can learn from someone. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Just shut up and listen.
The Golden Rule may not be a specific character trait but it has guided me since I learned it from a 5th grade teacher. When I heard him say “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, it honestly changed my life. I live that way every day with my family, friends and in business and would credit it with any amount of success I have achieved.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive impact on our wellness. To begin, which particular problems are you aiming to solve?
There is a perfect storm brewing in the senior technology sector. 1) The Silver Tsunami is here… the biggest demographic shift in the history of the world has arrived. Ten thousand people turn 70 every day in the US alone. Globally, it is exponentially greater. Every one of those seniors has a circle of care that want to be sure they are safe and have the dignity they deserve as they age. 2) There is a catastrophic caregiver shortage and there already are not enough caregivers to care for our loved ones. The cost for in-home care is rising as agencies need to pay higher and higher wages to attract people to work. Shifts are left unfilled and our loved ones are left alone and potentially in danger. 3) Technology has become more acceptable to previous generations than ever before, partially due to the pandemic. This forced seniors to adopt technology to relieve isolation and assist with their healthcare. Remote Patient Monitoring has exploded because of the need to care for our most vulnerable populations in the comfort of home with dignity.
How do you think your technology can address this?
The iHelp Max produced by Wearable Health Solutions is perfectly designed to address the exploding senior population and will close the gap in the care circle created by the caregiver employment gap. The easy-to-use, mobile pendant alerts the proper authorities and the circle of care in event of a fall or other emergency situation. We use 4G cellular connectivity as well as WiFi in homes and senior communities that do not have adequate cellular signals. Geo-fencing is used to send alerts in the event that someone wonders beyond a specific designated area using PGS location services. Daily check-ins are used to be sure a loved one is safe at a specific time each day. Medication reminders ensure that people are complying with doctors’ orders. In addition, we have the ability to monitor vitals, through an optional wearable, that are sent to the iHelp Max via blue tooth technology. Threshold breach alerts, such as high pulse rate, blood pressure, and more are sent to the circle of care so that they can intervein when necessary. There is also a remote pendant that can activate the iHelp Max to send an alert. This way, if someone does not feel like wearing the iHelp Max pendant, they can wear the remote button instead.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
This question requires going back in time a bit… I lost all of my grandparents by the time I was 14 and was not surrounded by the wisdom of past generations growing up. There was a true sense of loss that I did not realize until later in life. I also lost both parents early to cancer and that added to the missed opportunities with older mentors. When my wife and I purchased our in-home care business, my decision to work with seniors to help them stay safe with the dignity and respect they deserve was solidified. We had 250 caregivers helping our clients on a daily basis and it was a handful. I came to the realization that, while we cannot replace the in-person care by fantastic caregivers, it is necessary to augment that care with technology when they are not there. In addition, a personal emergency response system is reliable and doesn’t have personal issues getting in the way of showing up for a shift.
How do you think this might change the world?
People who are aging have earned the right to thrive not just survive and we need to rally behind them any way possible. The caregiver shortage is an epidemic and will hinder many opportunities for seniors to live the life they deserve. Technology offers the tools that all of us can use to make the world a better place, one senior at a time. From wellness checks to full blown chronic care management solutions… the technology exists today and is improving the lives of millions of people. As it becomes more affordable, simple to use and readily available, the world will be a better place for all of us. We will all age and will all benefit eventually.
As with any technology, there is always the chance that it simply won’t work under certain circumstances. Poor cellular connectivity, bad WiFi signals and user error can all result in problematic outcomes. Automatic fall detection will not be completely reliable, ever, unless people can wear RF patches on their bodies that connect wirelessly to a receiver. Ultimately, we need to view this technology as a way to increase the communication between the circle of care and the person using the technology. A missed daily check in or medication alert results in a call to Mom to check on her. A threshold breach alert for a glucose reading results in a call to Dad to make sure he is not reaching into the cookie jar. Technology should be used to augment the care plan, not control it. People need to be part of the equation, period.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
- Proper market research is critical to any successful product. Creating a product that has everything that the market needs relies on the proper research. Polls, group discussions and functionality analysis result in a product that fits the need of the marketplace. Positive social impact can only happen with a viable product.
- Industrial design is an extremely important component. You can have the best product in the world but if the majority of your target market can’t figure out how to turn it on or use it properly, it will go back in the box and returned. If a senior has dexterity issues, don’t hand them a watch with tiny buttons that they need to manipulate.
- Off-the-shelf components are ideal instead of custom electronic boards, buttons, shields, antennas, etc. The supply chain challenges are making it difficult enough… no need to complicate it even more.
- Read the room… Know your audience… Make a difference. Listen to the research results and design a product that fills a gap. Sometimes that gap is in your face and sometimes it’s hiding behind an existing solution that is not sufficient. In senior-related technology, it is typically something glaring like the actual delivery of the product. You can have the best mousetrap in the world but if it is drop-shipped to the porch of the senior and they have no way to know how to plug it in, configure it and use it… it will be shipped back, shoved under the bed or even worse… plugged in without knowing how to use it properly.
- Establish distribution channels early in the process. If you come up with a great product and have no idea how to reach the masses with it, you might as well not do it at all. If you are using a dealer network, the pricing needs to offer them enough margin to be profitable so they order more. If it is direct to consumer, your website better be easy to navigate, including offering easy payment and shipping methods.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I would tell younger people to find a gap and fill it with a solution that solves the issue, makes life easier for the user and be sure to understand how it affects the world around them. In my case, helping the senior thrive in place actually affects the entire circle of care. The target market for the iHelp Max is actually the adult 54-year-old daughter. She is crammed between caring for her kids and her parents. By offering a way to get her some piece of mind that her parents are ok at home, we actually help her go on a vacation with her kids. When on vacation with her kids, maybe they go to the endangered species exhibit at a local tour and learn how to impact society in a positive way. Everything leads to something more.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Richard Branson is my inspiration for many things. He is a true family guy who has dreams and the ability to make them a reality. He has touched so many lives in a positive way through several companies and it would be a bucket-list item to meet him. I would want to know so much that the lunch could roll into dinner and then breakfast. If the meeting was on Necker Island or Moskito Island, that would also work for me;) Attending one of his mentoring sessions would be a dream come true.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
We can be found at https://wearablehealthsolutions.com/
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.
Health Tech: Marc Cayle On How Wearable Health Solutions’ Technology Can Make An Important Impact… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.