In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Patrick Leonard, has a thought-provoking conversation with TrueLoo’s Founder, Vik Kashyap, about how TrueLoo’s smart toilet solutions are changing the way Senior Living communities track their residents’ wellness.
Discover more about TrueLoo and their unique approach for monitoring wellness parameters to identify important changes in residents’ health.
Raising Tech is powered by Parasol Alliance, The Strategic Planning & Full-Service IT Partner exclusively serving Senior Living Communities.
Welcome back to Raising Tech, a podcast about all things technology and senior living today. I'm your host Patrick Leonard and we're going to talk about a very familiar topic at issue and senior living today, which is wellness monitoring in Senior Living communities. However, we're learning about a very unique solution today that I'm really excited to educate you all on or rather have our guest educate you all on and I personally just learned about this in the last couple months. And so with that I'm excited to introduce our listeners to Vik Kashyap from Toi Labs to talk to us a little bit about this wellness monitoring idea and particularly about a product called TrueLoo. Welcome to the show, Vik.Vik Kashyap:
Hi. It's a pleasure to be here, Patrick. Thanks for having me!Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely. Before we really dive into this topic, Vik, I was really intrigued during our introductory conversation about your background and your experience. So if you don't mind, can you introduce yourself a little bit and tell our listeners a little bit about that?Vik Kashyap:
Sure. So I am an entrepreneur. I've been building companies mainly in the Silicon Valley area for more than 15 years. But in addition to doing that I also suffer from ulcerative colitis, which is a serious debilitating lower digestive disease, and it was through my experience in treating myself with my condition including developing a new treatment, I ended up publishing about that really got me set on focusing on developing the technology that has become TrueLoo. And I really discovered through that experience the importance of gut health, the importance of our waste and output as indicators to our health. And also turning this science fiction concept of a toilet as being a health monitoring system or device into reality.Patrick Leonard:
Thanks for that background. So can you tell us a little bit more specifically about Toi Labs and TrueLoo, which is, you know, what's commonly known out there on the marketplace? You know, personally when I first kind of Googled your company looked at your website, I was like, oh, it's a toilet seat. It's a smart toilet seat , but it's so much more than that in talking with you. So can you tell us a little bit more about kind of the founding story of it and you know, what problem you're really looking to go after here in this Senior Living space?Vik Kashyap:
Yeah, so Patrick, going into a little more detail, I actually developed a treatment for my ulcerative colitis that helped me not have to have my colon removed. And through the course of that treatment I tried many different things to try to understand how they would have an impact on my health. And what I found is that it's very, very important to understand what's going on with your output as an indicator of your general health and wellness. And so what I decided to do after publishing co-authoring a paper in Science Translational Medicine was to really try to figure out a way to make it cost effective , convenient and easy to capture your output information in a way that doesn't really change how you go about it in your day-to-day life. And so what I developed is a new type of toilet monitoring system that is comprised of a new replacement toilet seat that can be affixed onto any existing toilet in a matter of minutes. And what it's doing is that it's looking at the visual aspects of the stool and urine. These are characteristics that have been known for centuries, even millennia to be very valuable for human health. And if you look at Senior Living communities today and senior homes, they're tracking this information because they know it's so valuable. You know, if someone isn't going to the bathroom, if they are potentially bleeding or have other signs of issues that could be, you know, indicative of something more serious. It's very important to track that kind of information. But today, the way it's been done and being done prior to TrueLoo is that it requires someone to interpret, to actually see that excreta, interpret it in their own particular way (and then in a subjective way) and then record it usually manually into some type of a system. And given the importance of this kind of information, which arguably is, you know , as important if not more important than a lot of other types of vital signs that are being tracked today, what truly does is it helps to create an objective, accurate and timely understanding of someone's output patterns and when they're clinically concerning to be able to report on those. So, you know, for me it was very important to be able to do this because it's such a fundamental aspect of being a human is doing this every single day. Everybody does this yet today there's no way to get any insight or value from this activity that is being done. And so much in the same way that, you know, a lot of people may have been skeptical about wearables and the value, for example, of tracking steps or tracking heart rate. You when you take things that are being subjectively or manually done and you automate them and bring computerization to them. So that's when you begin to see a lot more power, you know, and so that's one of the things that was very important, you know , as we first developed the TrueLoo system.Patrick Leonard:
That's amazing. Sounds pretty complex, but also, you know, the concept is pretty simple to understand I think. But clearly there's a lot of complexities going on in the background. So talk to me a little bit about the perceptions of you know, an older adult or a Senior Living resident who may have this installed in the room. And then also on the flip side, having the conversations with the decision maker to install this. I mean it's such a, I don't wanna , you know, icky for lack of a better term, it could be a sensitive topic, you know, as a lot of things can in the caregiving in the Senior Living world because we get so intimate with our residents on a level learning about their health in , very different ways and servicing them and caring for them. And this is certainly one of those items that falls under that category. So can you just talk to me a little bit about perception from kind of both of those stakeholders in the utilization and implementation of something like this.Vik Kashyap:
Yeah, absolutely. You know, we've been in market with the TrueLoo service since 2021 and when we first came into the market, one of my biggest concerns was the perception and in particular the privacy considerations related to a technology like this. What it comes down to is really education. Because this is such a new technology, there sometimes some misperception about what it is the technology does and also there needs to be some awareness building about what the technology has the ability to do as well for someone's life. And so, you know, I think one of the things that's interesting about a product like this is that it is, as you mentioned in this area of kind of taboo or ick factor where people know it's very important. I mean, look, if you are living in a Senior Living facility, either as a resident or as a care staff member, you know the importance of tracking this information and it's something that is being done today. Now one of the things that I think we have been able to demonstrate is that by using something like this you can actually not have to have uncomfortable conversations and maintain the dignity of the person whose extra is already being monitored. And so today, for example, in the current practice, you have care staff that often ask residents about their stool and urine activity. They often are accompanying older resident and looking into the toilet bowl and then recording information about their excreta, and those things today are not comfortable, they're not dignified. And to be able to remove that and instead have a system that is 24/7 objectively and in a very private way analyzing this information in my private, you know , it's completely de-identified. It's not capturing any sensitive body parts, it's only looking downward into the bowl with its scanning technology. And then also on top of that, educating both care staff and residents about the fact that look, what is the implications of something like this? What are the benefits that you can get from it? That is really a critical part of the conversation because even though it's something that people may not want to talk about, the reality is if you have, for example, a very unusual pattern in your stool and urine, you know, that could be an early sign of something extremely serious. You know, we typically bucket the issues that the TrueLoo is able to, and to be clear, the TrueLoo is only identifying those abnormal waste patterns. It's not diagnosing any diseases. But if you're to look at the areas where waste, the visual analysis of waste is valuable, we generally bucket them into a few main areas. The first is around intake. Is someone taking off liquid? Are they taking the right kind of diet? You know, that's a fundamental human question and something that should be monitored on a daily basis. The second thing around infections, particularly in a communal living setting where things like gastroenteritis, norovirus, C. diff, other types of viral infections can spread, you know, is there something in the waste pattern that can be able to identify, you know, some signs and symptoms, you know, of these types of infectious diseases. The third is around cancers. And I think most people understand that many, many cancers including for example colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer are extremely deadly. And when you catch them late, these kinds of cancers can be fatal and often are. And the fourth is around trauma, which can be caused, you know, from a variety of different sources. But all of these types of potential issues, they often show up in the waste of an individual. And the ability to be able to automate the tracking of something that today is manually done day in, day out in these settings, really you know, has a significant impact not only on the life of the resident in terms of their ability to have an intervention that has the potential to change the course of a disease and their life, but also has a significant benefit to the care staff and the operators in that they no longer have to do this very unpleasant task and at the, and also reap the benefits of having a healthier, longer living, longer lifespan and healthspan type of resident .Patrick Leonard:
Thanks for that! Yeah, it's always amazing to me the different solutions that people like yourself and companies like Toi Labs are coming up with to address these really critical issues that everybody's kind of banding together to come up with a solution in their own way. But I feel like this is a really unique one that I personally never would've thought about. So I think it's really helpful to kind of shed some life on this today and I think our listeners will get a lot out of this. Can you talk to me a little bit more, you walked us through the use case and a little bit about the information that TrueLoo's gathering, what that's helping to prevent from a health perspective? But can you talk to me a little bit more specifically about what you touched on at the beginning of the actual technology that's powering this thing? How is it actually capturing reporting on these data points that you're mentioning in this automated manner ? Is it a proprietary technology that you came up with? Is it a combination of different of AI automation, you know what , what does that lookVik Kashyap:
Like? Yeah , this is just something that is near and dear to my heart as I am the inventor of this. The technology that's being used is patented. We have have multiple patents that cover the system and what it's doing is that it is capturing using a technology called computer vision or machine vision, detailed information, visual information about what goes into the toilet bowl . And it's doing it at a resolution and in a manner that far exceeds that of the human eye and mind. And we've reached a point in the technology adoption curve where certain types of sensors have come down to a lower cost that allows us to use primarily software to be able to interpret what the sensors are doing in a way that is very valuable and that improves over time. So if you look at a lot of what our technology is doing is it's taking this information that's very granular, it's very targeted and it is analyzing it for essentially biometric or physiological value. And so the challenge associated with this technology is not just technical, it's actually mapping a lot of what the software is doing to the actual underlying conditions of the individual in order for it to provide predictive value. Right now the product, and I wanna be very clear about it, it is not a medical device. We're not claiming that it's going to be diagnosing, treating or preventing any specific diseases. What it is doing however, is that it's identifying when there is an abnormal pattern of the output that requires further investigation and that we have very high level of confidence that requires further investigation. And the way we do that is we actually have board certified physician on our team that establish guidelines that the machine which is constantly improving uses to be able to report on when there are these abnormal issues that require an intervention. In many ways we're doing something that today is already being done or should be done manually, subjectively, sporadically. And we're making sure that it's done completely accurately and timely through a system like this. And I think what's really exciting about this technology is that it's designed in many ways to be forgotten. So unlike many things that require you to recharge or to change your behavior in order to use or remember to use, this is a product that is literally designed to fade into the background. It's not meant to be thought of when a user is using it. It's not meant to be interacted with, it's meant to just fit into the day-to-day life that you already live . And I think that's one of, if not the most unique aspect to this. And we have spent years and millions of dollars designing this product and and service and if there's one key kind of ethos or philosophy that we have when we have built this is that it really doesn't require anything on the part of the user. They ought to be able to get value from it from doing nothing extra. And we try to be very, very ruthless about drawing lines that ensure that this kind of ethos remains. And this to me is the difference between what I see as kind of some of the first generation of products perhaps that was seen in the Senior Living space and what I think the next generation of products are going to be. And particularly if you're dealing with an older adult population, you know, these kind of considerations are paramount and I think that as we've developed the technology that's been kind of a guiding principle for us.Patrick Leonard:
Thank you for that. So another question popped up as you were kind of talking through that from the caregiver or the Senior Living operator side, how are they monitoring this on a daily basis? I mean it certainly sounds way better as you mentioned, and more effective, less invasive than the manual process that's being done today. But with this implemented, what does it look like to monitor? Are there alerts to integrated with other health monitoring electronic medical systems? What does that look like from an ongoing basis and a daily basis and a practical use case?Vik Kashyap:
So going back again to the guiding principles and the philosophy that we espouse, the reports themselves are only produced on an exception basis. Unlike other types of products in this that serve this population, which often provide data that has to be interpreted. What we do is we actually have a clinical team that reviews all of the data that's being analyzed and captured by the TrueLoo system. And we only report on issues where we've identified abnormal patterns that cross a meaningful clinical threshold. And this is a very important point because as we've spent time with our customers, if there's one thing we have found is that they do not need another dashboard or more data to analyze, that's the last thing they need. What they need are ways to help them improve the human care that is so critical to the job that they do today. And to do that and to use machines that can help leverage that is in my mind a true application of artificial intelligence that hasn't really been delivered in this industry. And so when you look at the design of a system like ours, what it's really doing is taking away this unpleasant, disgusting job that care staff have to do today and instead giving them actionable reports that enable them to provide follow-ups and better care to the residents that they take care of. And that is, I think part of the, of the reason why our product has been so well adopted in the industry is that you really have to, in this industry make sure that you integrate into the existing clinical workflows of the staff. And one of the things we found early on is that besides doing this, you know, and providing our reports the way I described , we also need to integrate into the systems that are already used. It doesn't make sense to create a separate dashboard to log into. It makes much more sense to integrate this information into the systems that are already being used, the EHRs that are already being used. And so we have integrations with a variety of electronic health records and think that that's very important because at the end of the day you don't wanna be creating more portals, different login systems for the people who are getting this type of information.Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely. Thanks for clarify that, and I think that's right. I think a lot of people and a lot of innovative solutions today, one of their biggest wow factors sometimes are selling points if you will, tends to be oh we have these, this amazing reporting tool built in or these amazing dashboards. And so it's really interesting and cool to hear you taking a little bit of the opposite approach and it's the same type of approach with, like you said, kind of set-it- and-forget-it type of thing when you install this, but the toilet seat from the end user standpoint and then that kind of flows all the way through to the community and caregiver standpoint as well. It's almost like on an as needed basis, we'll give you the information we need but we'll handle it on the back end in the meantime. So I think that's a really interesting and innovative thought process in itself in today's world.Vik Kashyap:
Yeah, our goal is ultimately for this to be one and done. We want it just to happen without effort, without additional maintenance or effort. That is the North Star that we look at when it comes to enabling other humans to help the people who really need, need the help that they receive .Patrick Leonard:
Well Vik, this has been fantastic. Before I wrap up with any of the thought leaders we have on the show, I always like to ask, I'm always curious about what's next in your specific space and area of expertise and any other final thoughts or words of wisdom you want to impart with our listeners would love to hear it before we part ways today?Vik Kashyap:
So one thing that is near and dear to my heart is what kind of changes are happening in the healthcare system today? And I think what we're trying to do here, and I think something that's an inevitable trend, you know across the country is that health care is moving very rapidly towards a home setting. It's leaving the hospital and clinic where it can be left and is coming into the home and it's gonna start happening faster than a lot of people realize, especially after Covid. And so for us, a lot of the future is about how do we enable a world in which people can get a far deeper level of health care from the comfort of their own home. I think what you see today in wearables and other types of remote patient monitoring tools and telehealth is very, very different from what things are gonna look like a few years from now and it's companies like ours that are really focusing on enabling a much more passive ambient experience that I think are ultimately going to bring in a new way in which people are able to engage with their healthcare. And I think this is going to happen a lot faster than people, people imagine. And I think there's a great opportunity for people in the Senior Living space to combine the human care that they have with these new technologies to build something that's truly differentiated. One of the things that I think is unfortunate is that a lot of the technology promise that maybe happened in the first phase of Senior Living adoption of technology hasn't really happened. But I would just say it's important not to close your eyes and mind to the possibility that there will be some things that really do get widescale adoption in the industry that are coming down the pike.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome, thanks so much for that and thanks again for being here today, Vik. I personally have enjoyed our conversations quite a bit. I feel like I learned something new from you every time. Your experience and your background and your passion for what you're doing is amazing both in the technology and the Senior Living space and bringing those two things together is why we're here. So thank you for everything you and your team does and for all the knowledge that you gave our listeners today!Vik Kashyap:
My pleasure, Patrick, thank you for having me!Patrick Leonard:
And listeners, thanks for tuning into another episode of Raising Tech. I know you've probably picked up some very valuable information today as well, and hope you did. If there are any topics you want to hear about or want be on an episode yourself, please feel free to reach out to us on our website at ParasolAlliance.com. Have a good one!