Sit On It! Toilet Seat's So Smart It Sends Health Info To Docs


Are Americans ready for a home toilet seat that can seamlessly send their heart rate, oxygen saturation level and blood pressure numbers to their doctor every time they sit down on the throne?

It could sound like a setup for a dumb joke, but it’s actually a useful tool for doctors and patients alike, according to Casana, the company that’s marketing the prescription medical device branded as Heart Seat.

Remote monitoring of such measurements can be a boon for healthcare providers treating hypertension and other chronic heart conditions. And patients benefit when their doctors are alerted to relevant changes in their numbers.

Sure, doctors can have their patients use home blood pressure cuffs, home pulse oximeters, or even wearables and apps to measure this key clinical data.

But, as Nicholas Conn, founder and chief scientific officer of Casana, a company dedicated to “effortless home health monitoring,” points out, the biggest challenge is “folks not taking their measurements, not using devices, not wanting to make these massive behavioral changes that are required.”

But everybody already uses toilet seats daily, and they fulfill the basic requirement of all monitoring devices: they touch the skin. Even better, Casana notes, toilet seats are a product “patients already use, and know how to use.”

Casana’s Heart Seat has just been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for measuring heart rate and oxygen saturation, and the company hopes to secure approval for the blood pressure component by year’s end. 

Once that happens, Casana is set to go to market with the Heart Seat, director of marketing & communications Danielle Lewan tells Marketing Daily.

Details of such elements as marketing plans and pricing are yet to be determined, but Lewan says the targeted audience, at least initially, will be healthcare providers for prescribing to their patients. She adds, though, that “We do hope one day to have the device be retailable. There’s a lot of concern from family members and caregivers who would love to put this in the home of their loved ones.”

How consumers will get their Heart Seat once it’s prescribed to them is also yet to be determined, Lewan says, “but we hope for that process to be very simple.”

What’s also simple is installing –not to mention, using -- the seat.

“I just put one in my own home over the weekend,” Lewan reveals. “There are two bolts in the back of the seat, so it goes on to your toilet exactly like a regular toilet seat. Then, Bluetooth is used to set up the device, and it’s connected through WiFi.”

From there, reports the FDA, the device “collects the data each time the seat is used, and automatically uploads the data to a cloud location for access by healthcare providers to monitor patients in their homes.”

"As medicine moves from the physician’s office into the home, accurate home monitoring of medical parameters is increasingly important,” Dr. George Bakris, director of the Comprehensive Hypertension Center at the University of Chicago and a member of Casana’s Scientific Medical Advisory Board, commented in a  press release announcing the FDA clearances.

Lewan says the Heart Seat has been in development for six to seven years. And the company states -- shall we say, with “tongue-in-cheek” -- that “the healthcare system has been searching for this actionable intelligence for decades, and it turns out, we were sitting on a great idea all along.”

Casana has been conducting its clinical studies and other research with such partners as Massachusetts General Hospital, the senior-living provider The Villages, and AARP Innovation Labs.

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