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Pepster – Revolutionary Respiratory Physiotherapy

HSK Instruments have developed a breakthrough solution, making a tangible difference to the lives of those with conditions like cystic fibrosis.

The inspiration for their innovation was a challenge put to three colleagues by a clinician at the Mater Children’s Hospital, to help track physiotherapy for cystic fibrosis patients. Driven by the potential patient benefits the three partnered with a manufacturing manager, iOS developer and University Professor to answer the challenge, and Pepster was created.

The result of their partnership is a revolutionary system that helps patients perform their exercises more effectively, records real-time data, and helps clinicians monitor, manage and adapt treatment regimens for patients.

Watch to see how Pepster is making a difference in people’s lives.

More of the story

The story started with three colleagues set a challenge, and resulted in a product improving the lives of people all over the world.

Their original idea was a simple device to track respiratory exercises in children with cystic fibrosis. Early prototypes used a fully self-contained device with a screen and connectivity.

Then Elliot Smith, Gavin Kremor and Jeremy Herbert teamed up with manufacturing manager Thomas White, iOS developer Javan Wood and University of Queensland Professor Steven Wilson. They worked to develop a much richer experience, both for patients and clinicians, by using the mobile technology found in so many of today’s homes.

Left to right: Elliot Smith, Gavin Kremor, Jeremy Herbert

The team saw two sides of the issue they could change. The performance of chest exercises by patients, and the information available to clinicians to inform ongoing assessment and treatment.

For patients, gamification of respiratory exercises encourages participation. Modelled on the Positive Expiratory Pressure (PEP) exercise, Pepster’s face mask connects, over Bluetooth, to a video game on a tablet or computer. The game uses the patient’s breath as a game controller. The internal sensors within the system communicate an accurate and real-time view of how exercises are being performed, creating an interactive experience for users.

The system also makes a record of their exercises, which is sent to the Pepster Cloud. The Pepster Cloud service shares communication between patients and clinicians. Exercise information is securely stored in the cloud and allows clinicians to make updates to the patient’s prescriptions in real time.

Elliot attributes Pepster’s successful development to creative thinking. He says for the product to reach its full potential, innovative thinking was continuously required.

Pepster is a great example of innovative thinking because the entire product direction looked at changing the way physiotherapy is done. Much of the competitive differentiation came from the technological innovation of Pepster being a ‘smart’ physiotherapy device.

One of the initial challenges faced by HSK Instruments was the lack of awareness of and support for high growth potential startups. This forced them to work independently to realise their goals, and learn from their own mistakes. Awareness is now growing and existing startups, such as HSK Instruments, are better known and can offer support and ‘lessons learned’ to others that are just starting out. This, in turn, enables graduates to see high growth potential startups as a viable career.

Elliot says while the dynamic of Australian business shifts from resources into other sectors, now is the time to start new, high growth technology businesses. He sees technological advances as important drivers of Australia’s economy and he champions innovation as being able to uphold Australia’s position as a strong economic body.

Further information

Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia (CC BY-ND 3.0)
Last updated
18 July, 2017

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