MiVUE Health: Providing a Way to View and Mitigate Persistent, Pediatric Ear InfectionsBy Dhivya Sridhar
MiVUE Health is an ear monitor and app system that allows parents to more quickly obtain a diagnosis for their childrens’ ear infections and monitor their progress. I sat down with founders Jane Zhang (Anderson MBA ’20) and Meghan Peters (Anderson MBA ’20) to talk about their journey from idea to launch.
Jane’s son started getting ear infections as soon as pre-school started. After a long year with 4 infections and 1 especially stubborn one that lasted 40 days, Jane decided to do something about it. She applied to UCLA Anderson with the idea for MiVUE Health and found classmates who got on board. Hadley Washburne, Abbas Khambaty, Vivek Ramanna and Meghan Peters were all co-founders who met each other through the “Business Creation Option” route at UCLA Anderson. The option and its pre-requisites allow aspiring entrepreneurs to ferment their ideas and network with other entrepreneurs in the class. The team of 5 has now created a prototype that they’re gearing up to take to market to address the need.
“I developed the MiVUE health device because my son had recurring ear infections. He was in so much pain, especially in the middle of the night, when I couldn’t call the doctor. I felt helpless. MiVUE makes me feel empowered to take control of my son’s health.”
But First, What’s the Need?
While pediatric ear infections are far outside the scope of my domain, they’re very much a common mainstay for millions of parents nationwide—24.3M families, specifically. That number represents the total number of families who have a child between the ages of 0 and 5. MiVUE Health has plans to reach at least 4M of these families (the serviceable and obtainable target market).
Parents often take a “wait and see” approach when ear infections manifest—a practice that many physicians tell them to also abide by. Others rush to the ER at the earliest sign. They all, however, are prescribed antibiotics after a certain point if symptoms persist. Sometimes, however, ear infections stick around even after a course of antibiotics. They persist and recur, sometimes leading to something like the 40-day ear infection Jane suffered through with her son.
“Parents’ expectations around healthcare have changed. We see that they are eager for more information about their children’s health and are ready to use technology to get it. With health monitoring and telemedicine tools becoming ubiquitous, the time for MiVUE health is now.”
MiVUE, The Product
The MiVUE ear monitor is a smart otoscope that addresses this need by providing an in-home device that parents can use to track their children’s ear infections. This handheld device allows parents to take images of the inside of their children’s ears. The images are wirelessly transported to an app. Early versions of the app will enable parents to engage in a telemedicine visit to gain a diagnosis with the images. In the future, a machine learning algorithm will help determine whether the child has an ear infection. Since treatment is ultimately still in the hands of the child’s healthcare provider, the app also allows parents to send these images to their doctor—allowing both stakeholders to get frequent updates on the progress of the child’s ear infection.
The product has also captured the interest of healthcare providers. Since their typical tool is a wall mount that provides no way of capturing images or recording results, physicians the team has talked to are drawn to the convenience of the MiVUE Health system.
MiVUE Health is currently seeking a $1.5M seed round. They are currently leading up to their go-to-market phase and are building for the most widespread needs among their target market and are focusing on features that make their product a must-have with these parents. When it launches, MiVUE Health will target parents who are early adopters of technology who present at least of one of the two key needs: 1) they want to save trips to the doctor and 2) they want greater peace of mind around their children’s health.
They are currently waiting to hear back from the FDA for product registration. They’re classified as a Class I product—which typically signifies low-risk and the fastest possible registration timeline. They also have a published global patent. When launched, the product will be sold directly to consumers using existing reimbursement codes (these codes allow insurance companies to pay for claims that providers file).
Since the product’s inception, MiVUE has gone ahead and applied to various business plan competitions. As a result of their efforts, they were a finalist in the Rice business competition and won the Knapp Venture Fellows competition at UCLA. They also won the pediatric device award from Southwest Pediatric Innovation Consortium (SWPDC).
“In the long-term, we’re looking to the value we can provide to telemedicine businesses as well as insurance companies.”
MiVUE has the potential to address the needs of both parents and healthcare providers. The technology follows the larger trend of greater consumer autonomy in making healthcare decisions. Consumers are less likely to depend on inefficient healthcare systems (or at least go to the ER unnecessarily) when they have a more convenient option at their disposal. On the other side are healthcare providers who are drawn to innovations that make their job easier. AI and machine learning has been used to track the occurrence of heart attacks—it certainly has the possibility to improve healthcare outcomes in other areas as well.
Their path to market, however, will be crucial to determining their success. The cost of acquisition will likely be minimal to most (if not all) healthcare institutions but I wonder about the threshold of affordability for the average American family. The product provides an important convenience that eases the burden of being a parent in a significant way but most families in the US can’t afford healthcare and struggle with surprise bills—will the benefits MiVUE confer be enough to justify the purchase?