Hans Slijp of ECG Excellence tells us about the detection of hidden cardiac diseases within seconds.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded ECG Excellence.
Hans Slijp: For the first 20 years of my career, I was a management consultant and became a partner in leading consulting firms in the public and private sectors. But just providing advice on innovation, strategy, and changes was not satisfactory. So I went for the inspiring world of MedTech innovations. When I was managing the development of an intelligent cane for the blind and visual impaired, I learned more about medical signal processing. In particular, pacemaker technology. This way, I came in contact with a team of unique inventors of new solutions for Electrocardiogram interpretation. And we are now collaborating for the past 8 years, with the 3 of us founding ECG Excellence as a result.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Hans Slijp: I was too lucky to be trained using the Pyramid Principle for business communication during my time at PA Consulting Group. I’ve been using this great method ever since.
How does ECG Excellence market its product/services online?
Hans Slijp: Absolutely. We offer our unique CineECG interpretation software through a SAAS platform. We have created a CineECG site to provide details and tutorials on this new way of identifying ‘hidden’ cardiac disorders from standard 12 lead ECG data.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Hans Slijp: We have outsourced our online marketing to a digital agency that delivers a great set of skills and competencies in content creation and data-driven social media marketing. Refreshworks (the agency’s name) uses data to develop effective websites, content creation, channel selection, add budget allocation, etc.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Hans Slijp: We have embraced the lean and mean policy, so we only hire staff who can add to our key competencies. Our partners are delivering everything else. Members of the core team have the opportunity to become stakeholders in the company.
How are you funding your growth?
Hans Slijp: We are supported by a great group of angel investors, and we are also working with several grant instruments. Our time to market from concept to market launch is long since we are in Medtech and have to work with strict regulations on clinical validation and clinical safety. As of this year, we are also using our revenue as a source of funding.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Hans Slijp: Our main competition is the current embedded algorithms in ECG devices. These algorithms analyze the ECG data and are not really trusted by physicians. For example, in a recent study, our solution was compared with such an algorithm by a major Hospital in the USA. On average, the accuracy of the embedded algorithm was below 50% in identifying a heart infarct and our CineECG solution was at 90%. This quality gap between our solution and the established solutions will keep us in the game since our data collection will only increase our technology performance. When we feed this data to our models, the performance improves.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Hans Slijp: One of the cardiac disorders we have used for clinical validation is Brugada Syndrome. This is a genetic cardiac disease, and often, the first indication of its existence within a family is a Sudden Cardiac Death. Identifying Brugada today requires an injection with a toxic substance to provoke a certain heart reaction, making Brugada visible in the ECG. This is a complex procedure with a particular risk to the patient and is often executed by a cardiology team. Our technology has demonstrated we only need 10 seconds of standard ECG data to detect this ‘hidden’ disease.
Your final thoughts?
Hans Slijp: The Electrocardiogram was invented over a century ago, some 30 kilometers away from our office. And if you look up Wikipedia, you will find the last significant technology upgrade for the ECG was in 1942. As a team, we are proud to bring this great invention to the next level and to enable physicians to detect cardiac disorders much sooner and simpler