After raising $450,000 from specialist angels who can help the company, St. John’s-based Cyno this week is planning the soft launch of its digital platform for physiotherapy clinics.
Cyno is a year-old Software-as-a-Service company that helps physiotherapists to work with the patients outside of their clinics and outside of office hours. It has developed a digital platform that includes a secure video link and additional functionality so physios can connect with their patients anywhere and anytime.
Founder and CEO Peter Barbour said the company is releasing the product this week to nine clinics, which will use it for three months. In the first quarter of next year, the company is planning a full launch. He hopes it will mean people have more flexibility in receiving physiotherapy.
“The idea of [treatment being offered] just Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, is shocking,” said Barbour in an interview at Genesis, the St. John’s incubator where Cyno is headquartered.
In researching the market for a virtual physiotherapy project, he learned how the current system disadvantages both physios and their clients. The clinics are concentrated in urban centres so rural residents have to drive long distances for treatment, which can be harmful to someone with back problems. Rural clinics are few and have long waiting lists. And the 9-to-5 system means people have to interrupt their jobs to get treatment.
What Cyno does is allow physiotherapists to do a lot of the work with patients with one or both parties at home. It makes hours more flexible, and allows physios to make sure patients are doing their exercises properly at home.
To finance the development of the product, Barbour sought investment from individual investors who can bring expertise as well as capital to the company. They include a few physiotherapists, a medical doctor, developers with experience in tech companies, and Anne Whelan, the CEO of Seafair Capital and the owner of the CareGivers homecare service.
The groups of investors provided a total of $450,000 and Cyno has been able to access additional funds from government programs. That has allowed the company to hire eight employees, and form some important partnerships.
First, Cyno is a member of the Sun Life Digital Health Lab in Toronto, which is aiming to assemble a portfolio of digital tools (all vetted by the lab officials) to help people with healthcare.
The company is also working with a team of researchers at Memorial University of Newfoundland on a next-generation product that could further improve care for patients. It will be image recognition software that lets the physiotherapist use a smart phone or webcam to view the patient’s body and automatically diagnose problems or recovery. For example, it can alert the professional to problems with the patient’s posture, or it could assess progress made between successive tests. And it can all be done without the patient leaving his or her home.
Cyno will own the intellectual property for the product, which Barbour estimates will be ready in 10 to 12 months. He added that this product will position Cyno nicely in the market.
“The goal is to get out of the building and get sales,” he said. “But that [image recognition] product is something that sets us apart from the competition and I think that’s critical.”