CEO: Etienne Grima
WSR: Good day from Wall Street. This is Juan Costello, senior analyst with The Wall Street Reporter and joining us today is Etienne Grima, the CEO for CardioComm Solutions. The company trades on the TSX Venture and their ticker symbol is EKG. Thanks for joining us today Etienne.
Etienne Grima: No problem Juan. It’s a pleasure.
WSR: Great. Now starting off, give us a brief history and overview of the company for some of our listeners that are new to the story.
Etienne Grima: CardioComm Solutions is a Canadian-based organization. It’s been in business for quite a few years but is traditionally been offering solutions to some of the larger companies such as GE or certain hospital networks and institutions, selling software solutions and licenses for the management of ECGs collected from patients who are being monitored at home or in the clinic. The company made a shift about five or six years ago to aggressively pursue the telemedicine market and to get out in front of some of the larger institutions so that we get recognized for the solutions that we’ve been putting into place. And more notably, we pushed forward with the development of our base program which we call the Global ECG Management System, GEMS, and we’ve built on that platform the capacity to do automatic receipts of ECG transmissions from arrhythmia devices or resting 12-lead devices. And then in 2009-2010, we moved into the wireless market where there was a demand in the US and overseas to enable people to carry a device which will automatically send information about their heart to a monitored call center. So those are two exciting accomplishments for us and that set the groundwork for us to then move ahead in looking at other wireless technologies and then also to look at the consumer market. Our position is that a patient will be a consumer more often than they are a patient. And people who are passed through a monitoring period may wish to have an option to have their heart health checked at their own convenience using some sort of equipment and solution when they’re not under the constant care of the physician. So we’ve gone ahead and made an entry into that market, and that has been evidenced by the recent FDA clearance of our HeartCheck Pen which is a handheld heart rhythm monitor that allows you to acquire ECGs, store them, upload them to your computer, and then they can be shared through a service that we have that can be used by other organizations, hospitals, managed care groups, and then allows that heart rhythm to be viewed by a physician and that physician doesn’t see just the heart rhythm. They see the actual ECG waveform and they can make a judgment call as to what the person might be experiencing at the time when they made the recording. And then the system allows some feedback to the patient so that they can get some closure as to what they should be doing next. The advantage of this is you can be monitored from wherever you are and transmit wherever there’s the Internet, and physicians can be globally located to then acquire and read and interpret and get feedback. So it’s a nice open system that removes a lot of the barriers that exist where patients or consumers are trying to get at a physician and they’re going to avoid long waiting room delays and emergency room check-ins.
WSR: Well great. In terms of GEM, can you talk about the recent agreement there regarding with TZM?
Etienne Grima: So TZ Medical is another organization who’s been around for a few years and they’ve been servicing the hospital market more in the wound dressing area. But they’ve made an aggressive move to offer a wireless device that can be worn by patients to monitor their heart, and it falls under the classification of a mobile cardiac telemetry device which has quite a good reimbursement level in the United States given the technology. It involves a lot of maintenance and interaction with patients by a medical call center. And traditionally, these devices have been manufactured and made available through controlled release programs where the people who manufactured the device generally hold the device to their own customers so they can run their own call center. It’s a method to develop a client base with a captured service model. So TZ Medical in developing this device and getting their own FDA approval for, to be sold in the United States have opened the market up to other companies who might have been smaller and precluded from being able to participate in the continuous cardiac telemetry market. And they have worked with CardioComm Solutions in the development of the later stages of the device because the device needs to communicate through some sort of a software solution and the software solution, GEMS allows two types of functionality. It could be supported. One is to be able to receive, hold, and capture data on patients that are being monitored. And the second function is to be able to view the ECG that was transmitted in an environment that a physician can go and do recordings and make notes within an FDA-approved software solution that then allows for billings or qualified interpretations to be made on that patient. So TZ Medical venturing into this market has allowed CardioComm to expand its GEMS offerings to now include M Air which is the mobile cardiac telemetry solution for continuous monitoring of patients.
WSR: Well great. So talk about some of the other trends right now in the sector and how well positioned the company is to capitalize on them?
Etienne Grima: CardioComm Solutions’ based strength is that we are a software engineering company which means that the source code that is used to develop our software solutions and our middleware solutions are entirely understood and owned by the organization. Other organizations that have offered similar solutions may have purchased rights to software licenses and may have made some workflow modifications to them. However what happens in the long run is that as technology moves on, you need to be able to go back to the source code to make fundamental changes and adjustments in order to marry up the requirements that the technology is requiring. So an example would be the Windows 7 environment. We all know that Windows 7 is put on to a computer, it requires an upgrade of your other software solutions that you would use to do your work. It’s not any different with our ECG management software, and we have been preparing for this Microsoft-driven shift in operating systems through the rewrite and the redesign of our GEMS software so that we can continue to hold a market share and perhaps a dominant market share in position offices and hospitals that are now going to have Windows 7 as their base platform. So we are positioning ourselves to be a Windows 7 and forward compatible software solution, server 2008 and forward software compatible solution. And we have an eye as well to develop with the next generation of GEMS, an opportunity to also work on the Apple operating system, the iOS-based systems. So CardioComm is planning to continue to be a player in ECG management solution provisions internationally. And other companies, I’m not so sure have been able to keep abreast of these changes because they may not be working with source code that they have originally developed. Time will tell.
WSR: Good answer. So perhaps you could walk us through your background and experience or and talk about some of the management team.
Etienne Grima: I started an organization or co-founded an organization in Canada called the Canadian heart research center which is a clinical research organization that performs clinical trials for the large pharmaceutical companies in cardiovascular medicine. So I have a lot of experience operationally, research content, and also with the financial structures associated with the performance of complicated clinical trials. Prior to that, I assisted in starting a research center at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. St. Michael’s Hospital is a tertiary adult hospital associated with the University of Toronto, and it was my job to put into place the operational infrastructure and financial guidelines to the operations of research in that institution. Associated with the Canadian Heart Research Center is our past CEO of CardioComm who is Dr. Anatoly Langer who is a cardiologist with a lot of publications and research experience, and quite a good business acumen to back. He is now the Chairman of the Board of CardioComm Solutions and offers strong medical insight into the directions that we should be following. The rest of our board members are drawn from the business sector, the IT telehealth or telecommunications sectors, as well as we have another cardiologist, actually an electrophysiologist, an expert in arrhythmia management who sits on the board. And we also have an individual, Mr. William Smith who is one of the original founders of CardioComm many years ago and we’ve been fortunate to bring him into the company and he serves with us and offers a lot of insight into where CardioComm came from and it actually helps us to track the direction and the path as to where we want to go.
WSR: Excellent. And what are some of the goals and milestones there that you and the team are hoping to accomplish over the course of the next year?
Etienne Grima: Well the year we’ll go fast. Our primary objective this year is to complete the GEMS 4.0 submission for an FDA review and clearance. And secondly to move forward with the Pen launch, the Heart Check Pen launch, which will involve us to get some production lines going. The intent is to get preorders confirmed and some distribution channels identified predominantly in the US given the proximity to us in Toronto and Victoria. We’ll make that an easier business launch. But we do have a lot of interest from other countries seeking opportunities to become distributors in various verticals. So 2012 is going to see us finish the Windows 7 GEMS 4.0 system which again as our base platform will lead us into new directions, and to get the Pen, the Heart Check Pen instituted as a readily available over-the-counter solution to the general public and specifically the emerging market which is called the 3C market. It’s consumers with chronic conditions. These are interested and motivated individuals who are involved in trying to maintain a secondary prevention front against whatever disease they may be concerned with, and we think that this pen will be an important tool for them to be using. In 2013, we’re looking to introduce other biosign marker, monitoring which I have alluded to in our press releases. Specifically we wish to give people the option to blend in heart rate, blood pressure, body weight, other commonly measured biosigns that give you an indication of your health status.
WSR: Certainly. And as you continue to speak with investors and the financial community Etienne, do you believe that the company story and your message and upsize are completely understood and appreciated by them? And if not, what do you wish investors better understood about the company or the sector?
Etienne Grima: It’s a good question. The rapid amount of growth we’ve had in our stock value in a very short period of time has certainly garnered a lot of interest from investors and current shareholders as well. The progress that we have made in the past few months is a reflection of the past three years of hard work that we’ve been putting into the company. So at first glance, it may not be easy to understand how a company that was largely unnoticed is going to make an impact going forward. And so the thing to focus on really is how has the market responded to this announcement regarding the OTC approval of the pen. That announcement has sparked tremendous interest from general investors, not institutional investors, and that’s because we believe that the general investors are very representative of the population who is going to find this product of significant interest to them when it becomes available. And it will mark the first launch step or launch point for CardioComm in moving forward with a more refined heart rhythm monitoring service for the consumer market and allow us to move forward with a more refined solution for other biometrics to be monitored. So investors should look at where we are today as a reflection of the past efforts we’ve made and to look forward. They should appreciate that the work we’ve done in the past three years wasn’t just related to what’s happened in the last month. We have more plans scheduled for release.
WSR: Well good. And so once again joining us today is Etienne Grima, the CEO for CardioComm Solutions. The company trades on the TSX Venture. Their ticker symbol is EKG, currently trading at 39 cents a share. And before we conclude here, to recap some of your key points, why do you believe investors should consider the company as a good investment opportunity today?
Etienne Grima: The market has responded with an initial surge. The product is stable, well-proven, FDA-cleared. The company has a track record of accomplishing it’s goals and specifically has been very successful in the prescription market and we intend to fully leverage our experience in the prescription market as we continue to try to serve the over-the-counter consumer markets.
WSR: Well we certainly look forward to continuing to track the company’s growth and report on the upcoming progress. And I like to thank you for taking the time to join us today and to update our investors on EKG.
Etienne Grima: Thank you Juan.