Health Care

ResApp Health Ltd (ASX:RAP) – Tony Keating



The CEO Mindset - Tony Keating, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at ResApp Health (ASX:RAP)

Tony Keating is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at ResApp Health (ASX:RAP), a developer of digital healthcare solutions to assist doctors and empower patients to diagnose and manage respiratory disease. ResApp is creating easy to use, affordable, clinically-validated and regulatory-cleared diagnostic tools that only require a smartphone. Their solutions are designed to be easily integrated into existing telehealth solutions and they are also working on apps to provide respiratory disease diagnosis and management directly to consumers and healthcare providers.

What’s your journey in becoming a CEO?
After completing my PhD at The University of Queensland, I moved to the US to work at the University of Maryland as a Postdoc. At UM I worked on research projects that were funded by the US DoD and NASA. After two years in Washington DC, I moved to Boston to join Exa Corporation. Over 90 manufacturers in the automotive and aerospace industry used Exa’s engineering software to optimise the performance of their products. At Exa, I started in research and moved quickly into a technical business development role, helping develop and execute our aerospace market entry strategy. I returned to Australia in 2010 and joined UniQuest, the commercialisation company of The University of Queensland. At UniQuest, I led the commercialisation of engineering technologies, including identification and development of opportunities as well as sourcing and negotiating transactions with investors and strategic partners. During that time, I acted as interim CEO for a number of start-up companies. In my portfolio were a number of biomedical engineering technologies, one of which was the technology that become ResApp. Working closely with Brian Leedman, Dr Udantha Abeyratne (the inventor of the technology) and Dr Paul Porter (our clinical partner), we spun the ResApp technology out of the university and raised the first round of funding by listing the company on the ASX.

Tell us a bit about your business and how you are commercialising?
ResApp is a digital health company that is focused on respiratory disease. Our core technology uses machine learning algorithms to analyse sounds (such as cough, breathing or snoring sounds) to screen for, diagnose and manage respiratory disease. By using sound, we are able to deploy our technology on an off-the-shelf smartphone, such as an Apple iPhone, without the need for any accessories or other hardware. Since starting the company, we have focused on generating the clinical data and achieving regulatory approvals for our technology. I’m pleased that we now have excellent clinical data from multiple clinical studies and have received CE Mark and TGA approval for two breakthrough products.

ResAppDx uses cough sounds to diagnose respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, asthma exacerbations and COPD exacerbations. It has been demonstrated in large clinical studies to identify these diseases at high sensitivity and specificity. ResAppDx is clinically valuable as a triage tool in traditional settings such as an emergency department, urgent care clinic or GP’s office where it can provide a rapid point-of-care result, but it is in telehealth where we have an extremely strong value proposition. We are able to provide telehealth clinicians with an accurate way to asses a patient’s lungs without a stethoscope or imaging which are obviously not available in the telehealth setting. We are working closely with telehealth providers, including our announced deals with Coviu and Phenix Health, to integrate our algorithms into their platforms to provide a seamless experience for both patients and clinicians.

SleepCheck is a direct-to-consumer screening tool for obstructive sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is a major health issue, with 3 in 10 men and 2 in 10 women suffering from sleep apnoea, and up to 80% of those with sleep apnoea being undiagnosed and therefore untreated. Untreated, sleep apnoea doesn’t only result in daytime tiredness, but increases your risk of heart disease significantly. To be diagnosed with sleep apnoea today takes multiple steps, including a referral and a sleep study which involves trying to sleep with multiple contact sensors (chest straps, EGC patches on your skull, etc.), typically in an unfamiliar environment. SleepCheck reduces the barriers to diagnosis, by placing your smartphone on your bedside table when you go to sleep, you wake up to a score which assesses your risk of sleep apnoea, advising you on the next steps you can take.

How are you managing with the current COVID-19 pandemic on both business and personal front?
COVID-19 has changed the way governments, providers and the general public think about healthcare. This pandemic has accelerated the growth of telehealth and remote monitoring of patients. Telehealth providers such as Ping An Good Doctor (China) and Teladoc (USA) have seen huge increases in the number of telehealth consultations so far this year. Our Australian telehealth partners, Coviu and Phenix Health, have seen exponential growth since the Australian government opened up Medicate rebates for telehealth here. With this growth comes the responsibility to deliver quality care and we fill a unique position in providing the only scalable solution for remote respiratory diagnosis. Without a way to know what is happening in a patient’s lungs it is difficult for a telehealth clinician to effectively diagnose a patient who has respiratory symptoms.

COVID-19 itself represents a challenge for the global medical community and there are a number of ways we can assist. We are exploring ways of identifying the virus itself through cough, but also see an immediate opportunity to assist in managing patients with COVID-19 remotely, by identifying mild patients (i.e. patients where the disease has not progressed to a lung infection) and keeping them at home, reducing the load on hospitals and other facilities.

Operationally, our business is working well under the current restrictions. Our team have used Slack for internal comms since we founded the company and continue to make great progress even with the team working from home. Travel restrictions certainly limit our in-person visits to customers and partners, however, like all businesses, we have moved most of our business development efforts online to platforms like Zoom. We recently employed a very experienced sales and marketing leader for Europe who is based in London which certainly increases our capability there.

Personally, I’m spending a lot of time on Zoom rather than in hotels, airports and airplanes. There have been a few Zoom interruptions from kids, but that seems to be something that everybody around the world is getting used to.

What’s the most exciting thing about running your business?
The things our team are able to achieve. Our team has grown quickly and has achieved major milestones such as regulatory approval and our first customer deals, while facing and overcoming some setbacks along the way. Very few companies globally have experience in the areas where we operate. Our small team has developed technology, clinical and regulatory strategies that put us in a very unique position of being one of the very few companies in the world who have achieved what we have achieved.

How do you measure success?
I’ll always measure success by the creating products we create that help patients. These products will help doctors better take care of their patients, or will empower patients themselves to make more informed decisions about their health. If we do this then we will deliver strong returns to our shareholders.

What do you think is the most important quality of being a CEO of a listed company?
Time management and communication. It’s important to ensure that I listen to our shareholders and communicate effectively with them, but also balance that with running the business, which is all about listening and communicating with our team.

What is your favourite book?
I don’t think I really have a favourite book, but the most recent book I finished was The Antidote: Inside the World of New Pharma by Barry Werth. The story of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, it describes the ups and downs of healthcare, especially when developing brand new and novel products, and the persistence required to be successful.

What message do you want to send to our readership in Asia?
ResApp has achieved much over the last 5 years, resulting in regulatory approvals for two products, ResAppDx, targeting clinical diagnosis of respiratory disease, and SleepCheck, targeting at-home self-assessment of obstructive sleep apnoea. Both of these products are entering huge global markets in 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed global business growth, it has shone a spotlight on respiratory disease and telehealth.

How can people connect with you?

ResApp Website:

Click to comment