Interview with Dr. Farzad Azimpour

Dr. Azimpour, what is your role at Myia and can you give us a brief overview of your background?

I serve as Myia’s Chief Medical Officer, working with our team of clinical partners and patients to deliver an experience that promotes your best physical and mental performance managing your condition. I am a cardiologist by background, and I currently serve as teaching faculty at both the Stanford University School of Medicine and the Stanford Byers Center for Biodesign.

I completed my clinical training in internal medicine and cardiology at the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Minnesota Lillehei Heart Institute, respectively. I served as Chief Cardiology Fellow and was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship in advanced cardiovascular technologies, earning me the 2014 St. Jude Medical and Dean’s Innovation Fellowship at Stanford Biodesign. From 2015-2018, I served as Director of Health at the global design and innovation firm IDEO (inventors of the automated external defibrillator).

Understandably, we get a lot of questions from our Beta Community on how to describe Myia to their care team. How would you describe Myia?

Myia works alongside both clinical teams’ and patients to bridge the gap in health information that exists between the clinical world and the real world, at home and on-the-go. We use a specially selected set of sensors and data sources (including activity and location information from your smartphone) to bring context and meaning to the otherwise scattered and unreliable data that may come from a single wearable device. With our sensor kit, we are able to capture critical information about your health and behaviors that can be used to do things like adjust your medications remotely, prioritize and help schedule your clinic visits, and ultimately predict when your health is likely to decline and land you in the hospital.

What type of data is Myia gathering and how can participants get access to it in order to show their care team?

Our current kit for heart failure includes sensors to detect your heart rate, respiratory rate, sleeping patterns, and various forms of sleep disturbances that are key to understanding when your health may be at risk. Additionally, we capture daily weight recordings, blood pressure, activity metrics, and location to better understand what is happening beyond the numbers (for instance, if we do not detect your presence in bed, but we know that you are home and not traveling, we may ask whether or not you are sleeping in a recliner which could indicate that your breathing is getting worse). We are currently designing a summary report that we will send to you periodically to review your performance, but in the meantime, you and your clinical team can always reach out to us for up-to-date information that may be helpful to managing or understanding your current condition.

We’ve often heard from many participants that their care teams are concerned about their participation in the Myia Beta Community.  How can they explain the merits and benefits of Myia to their care team?

Myia is a system that is co-developed with our clinical partners and key innovation leadership at the American College of Cardiology. Myia is not a replacement for the management of your condition by your primary cardiovascular team. Myia provides these clinicians with an added layer of visibility into what is happening outside of the traditional clinical setting. We are currently using the information from the sensors and data sources to train our system to better understand the patterns of your performance that can help you better manage your care independently and remotely.

What types of devices does Myia use? Do they pose a risk to participants who may have implantable devices like ICDs?

Our current heart failure kit includes a smart-hub cellular connected tablet that collects data wirelessly from sensors including: 1) weigh scale, 2) blood pressure cuff, 3) pulse oximeter, 4) reusable and rechargeable single-lead ECG patch, 5) under-mattress ballistocardiograph, 5) smartphone app from your existing phone, and in selected cases 6) photoplethysmography “PPG” ring. These sensors provide a collection of daytime and nighttime measurements that comprehensively represent your health status with measurements most commonly used by your clinical teams, as well as some new ones in experimental phases. If you have an implantable pacemaker or ICD (defibrillator), we currently advise you to contact us until we are more confident in its added value.

We talk a lot about how our Beta Community is furthering research into treatment for heart failure. How specifically is this occurring?

First we test how to effectively deliver the kits to our Beta Community. Much of this is behind the scenes work that involves getting sensors pre-connected to your hub, packaging them, and shipping them to you. Next, we test how reliably the sensors detect and send data to the hub and to our team. Once all of the data is collected and analyzed, our system can find patterns and match your biometric signals to relevant medical events. And with each unplanned medical event (think emergency room visit, hospitalization, etc), we can then label the data so that our computerized system can perform matching and pattern recognition to train our system to better prepare for the next potential decline in health status, and surface timely insights to keep you at your best performance.

What is next for Myia that you are most excited about?

Getting the system in the hands of your clinical teams to unlock this new-found visibility that will get you to your most effective medication doses most quickly, prevent your next hospitalization, and protect your valuable time by identifying when is the right time for you to be seen in person.

Alex Gold