Project Pitch It: After five years, the timing may be right for OnKol

OnKol’s remote patient monitoring device.
OnKol’s remote patient monitoring device.

Leadership: Marc Cayle, founder; Robert Kebbekus, chief executive officer
Address: 316 N. Milwaukee St., Suite 317, Milwaukee
What it does: Remote patient monitoring
Founded: 2014

Timing is often everything, and, for the past few years, it seems Milwaukee-based startup OnKol has been just a little bit ahead of the market.

Founded in 2014, OnKol appeared on the third season of entrepreneurship pitch show “Project Pitch It” on WISN-TV Channel 12. The company developed a smart device that connects third-party home and health monitoring sensors to an elderly person’s family, medical professionals and data platforms. The idea is that a person can age in their home while those who care about the individual can keep an eye on their well-being.

Marc Cayle, founder of OnKol, said the challenge has been that the home care industry has generally focused on more reactive devices that will alert someone in an emergency.

“We have really been on the forefront for the last five years of the remote patient monitoring industry, which is really just getting started,” said Cayle, noting that devices like OnKol can identify trends in declining health or whether a patient is taking medications to help family or professionals intervene before an emergency situation develops.

“The industry is so used to reacting instead of preventing,” he said. “It’s just taking a bit for the prevention piece to catch on.”

Changes in Medicare codes to allow physicians to be paid for monitoring patients remotely are fueling an industry shift.

“Now that there is a payer and the insurance companies are catching on, it’s going to happen a lot faster,” Cayle said.

As the market has come around to OnKol’s approach to remote patient monitoring, Cayle said the biggest challenge has been preparing for an eventual increase in demand. Those efforts include having the capacity to meet large orders, something Cayle said the company is prepared for with its contract manufacturing partner.

OnKol has also sought to develop channels to get its product into the homes of seniors, either through health systems or through business-to-consumer methods. To foster the latter option, Cayle launched BeHomeSafe, which will use a franchise model to deliver home health monitoring products directly to consumers.

Cayle said BeHomeSafe has five affiliate locations set to come online before the first quarter and will start franchising as early as next summer. OnKol will likely be the core product offered by BeHomeSafe.

“It is honestly the best product in the market and we’ve looked hard,” Cayle said.

With distribution channels developing and market demand turning in its favor, OnKol is in a position to capitalize on new opportunities.

“We were ahead of our time when we first came out, but we are right in the middle of it now,” Cayle said.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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