Jiang Li is founder and CEO of Vivalink, a provider of connected healthcare solutions for patient monitoring and telemedicine.
His passion and extensive experience in bringing innovative technology and products into the marketplace positions him as an innovative thought leader in virtual healthcare. An executive with more than two decades of experience across multiple disciplines, including global healthcare IT, medical device, cloud software, and sensor and IoT industries, he is a regular contributor to leading edge media including Forbes and an established industry speaker. Prior to joining Vivalink, he was responsible for new product and technology development as the VP of engineering at Kovio and Thinfilm Electronics, leading printed electronics companies. Prior to that, he worked at AMD and the joint venture between AMD/Fujitsu, Spansion. As the vice president of product engineering at Spansion, Jiang managed the major new product launches at Spansion. Jiang holds 22 US patents, and a PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
OPN: What drove you to choose a career working in medical technology?
JL: I spent many years working in technology product engineering and development, but it was a more personal experience that inspired my work in remote patient monitoring. When in the ER for a misdiagnosed heart attack, I got a personal perspective on the instruments used for monitoring patients. I thought there had to be a better way, one that was less intrusive and more empowering for patients, yet equally as effective at collecting vital data.
OPN: It is clear that the healthcare industry has been greatly impacted by the pandemic, what do you think has been the greatest impact within the surgical industry?
JI: In many cases, the covid-19 pandemic halted surgeries because resources had to be diverted to emergency care. This created a backlog of necessary procedures as well as elective surgeries. It also impacted the time and space available for patients to receive post-operative care in hospitals and rehab facilities. The use of remote patient monitoring technology moved to the forefront of care options. Providers can continue to monitor relevant vitals of ambulatory post-surgical patients while they recuperate at home. Along with basics such as heart rate, clinicians also can also monitor movement, which can be another indicator of progress to help proactively react to any issues.
OPN: What’s the best part of your job?
JI: I enjoy solving challenges. Researching the market landscape to determine the issues faced by both patients and providers, then developing products and technology that offer solid solutions is satisfying. When we can lead the way to innovation that makes a significant impact in people’s lives, that is significant. Understanding that monitoring vital statistics doesn’t have to be a big burden on patients, then finding a way to make the entire process seamless and painless feels good. We can help people through technology to achieve better outcomes.
OPN: … and the worst?
JI: As our company grows and evolves, we continually have to reassess our priorities. Unfortunately, sometimes that means changing our staffing. Laying people off is never easy. We want to advance our technology to best fit the market, so we have to ensure we have the right people on our team.
OPN: What has been the highlight of your career so far?
JI: Our technology is in 32 countries, so I have the opportunity to see how adoption of our solutions has a meaningful impact. As an example, the Veterans Administration hospital in Atlanta uses our technology to enable some post-op patients to recover at home. And, throughout the covid pandemic, our monitoring devices along with our biometric digital platform has made quality care more accessible during a time when healthcare was in a serious crisis.
OPN: A recent study at McMaster University showed patients using Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) after surgery, were: less likely to be readmitted (5.3%), less likely to report pain 7 days after surgery (13.9%), and safer because medication errors were detected early on (24.2%). What are your thoughts on the use of RPM wearables?
JI: Wearable sensors enable clinicians to proactively monitor patients’ post-surgery progress through continuous transmission of vital data points. Quality data enables a digital biometric platform to provide analysis a clinician can use to proactively diagnose and treat any abnormal conditions. Access to these insights provides a more rounded diagnostic informational perspective to the clinician without undue burden on the patient.
OPN: Are you currently involved in any research or work with emerging technologies and medtech?
JI: We are constantly working with our research institution partners in product and technology development. And, our Medical Advisory Board includes members from top healthcare organizations, such as the University of California San Francisco and Bayer. One current example is a study in which researchers use actigraphy devices and our Biometrics Data Platform to monitor post procedure recovery. Periprosthetic joint infection (PJI) occurs in 1-2 percent of primary and 4 percent of revision arthroplasties. This can significantly impact an ageing population that’s receiving implanted plastic joints that are expected to last longer. Improved data collection and analysis for diagnosing PJI, especially in chronic infections caused by low-virulence pathogens, can lead to better outcomes without extended use of post-surgical antibiotics.
OPN: Please can you tell us more about the research and what it could mean to patient experience and outcomes?
JI: At any time, we’re working with more than a dozen institutions including academia, clinical research organizations, and life sciences companies. As example, we worked with a Case Western Reserve University athlete returning from a lower lumbar injury using wearable sensors to observe both musculoskeletal adaptation and cardiovascular physiological adaptation. The data on her internal workload coupled with self-reporting of her RPE informed us of her ramp up to an ideal return to play. Their researchers also did a study looking at specific wearables from anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction and hip arthroscopic procedures to examine changes in muscle oxygen saturation level as an individual returns to play, and if there were changes as the atrophied muscle starts to regain its strength compared to the contralateral leg. The use of wearable technology provided tissue physiology insight to evaluate how the ligament responded to rehabbing to better ascertain when the athlete could be cleared to return to activity from a musculoskeletal standpoint.
OPN: As an innovator in medtech can you tell us more about the different ways new technologies can work together with surgeons to help improve surgical workflow?
JI: RPM technology can assist before, during and after a surgical event to offer quality vital statistics data to a surgeon to provide a fuller physiological profile of the patient. Use of sensors to continuously collect vitals data and safely transmit it to a biometric platform for analysis. AI data analytics provide insights to help surgeons better complete the post-surgical care cycle with more accurate, proactive diagnosis of potential issues – all without undue burden on the patient.
OPN: What would you tell your 21-year-old self?
JI: I’d try to explore more and be more open to new ideas. Looking at a situation with an open mind helped inspire the ideas behind Vivalink. Trying to see all perspectives has helped me to better work with others, finding the right path for the company, and ultimately be able to appreciate life better.
OPN: How do you think the future looks in the field of remote monitoring technology and what are your predictions for 2023 and the next decade?
JI: From our perspective, we’re committed to pursuing the evolution of biometric data services. Remote wearable devices capable of accurate, continuous data monitoring and collection that feed an omni-channel biometric platform creates a breadth of opportunities for analysis. Orthopaedic surgeons can work with exercise physiologists, physical therapists and biomedical engineers to incorporate the insights derived from AI based on quality, robust edge solutions. This impacts every aspect of the care cycle from life sciences companies developing pharmaceuticals to providers having the tools to better assess both pre- and post-surgical patients.