LOS ANGELES – Text messaging can improve medication refill rates among Medicare patients with chronic diseases, according to a recent pilot program by Kaiser Permanente Southern California and mPulse Mobile. “The program results far exceed our expectations with 44% refill rate in the text message group as compared to 30% in the non-text group,” said Rena Brar Prayaga, author of a paper on the study that was published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. “In addition to the difference in refill rates, the 37% response rate by this older Medicare population was higher than expected and patient feedback was very positive with 96% of the patients indicating that the solution was easy to use.” Participating patients received tailored medication refill reminder dialogues that consisted of a series of messages, including prompts to authenticate by date of birth, complete a refill, ask for help, and share reasons for non-refills or opt-outs.
Abbott FreeStyle app available for smartphones in Europe, offers new features
ABBOTT PARK, Ill – People with diabetes living in Europe can now use Abbott’s FreeStyle LibreLink mobile app with compatible smartphones. Utilizing their phone’s near-field communication, the app enables users to hold their smartphone near their FreeStyle Libre sensor to capture and view their real-time glucose levels, their eight-hour glucose history and how their glucose is currently changing, as well as add notes to track food, insulin use, medication and exercise. “We’re committed to bringing life-changing technology and tools to liberate people from the many hassles of diabetes management,” said Jared Watkin, senior vice president, Diabetes Care, Abbott, in a statement. “The FreeStyle LibreLink app is a digital health tool that integrates glucose data directly on a smartphone so everything is all in one place. This is another step forward in making glucose monitoring seamlessly fit into a patient’s daily lifestyle—helping them live a fuller, healthier life.” The FreeStyle LibreLink app also has new features including: a larger, high-resolution display; text-to-speech capabilities for glucose readings; the ability to log smaller doses of insulin; and support for 26 languages. Users of the app also have the option to share their information with their health care professional and caregivers through LibreView and LibreLinkUp.
Startup develops AI health coach
SUNNYVALE, Calif. – Startup Memora Health has developed an artificial intelligence health coach, Felix, to support patients when they return home from the hospital. “A smartphone app that tracks your medication adherence and vital signs over time is hardly the coaching needed to make meaningful lifestyle changes,” said Nisarg Patel, CEO of Memora Health, in a recent blog post. “Patients need someone they can talk to, that can answer their questions, that can work with them day by day, one step at a time. Felix’s features an AI engine that allows a personalization and a conversational interface to simplify the patient user experience. Patients can use the SMS interface on any cell phone to talk to Felix to receive information and care support, ask questions about their treatment, mention challenges they’re facing, and report symptoms and side effects. The platform’s analytics engine identifies potentially dangerous symptoms from patient responses and can alert the patient, caregivers and clinicians in the event of an emergency. Felix is active 24/7 and immediately responds to patient questions and concerns to help them feel cared for at anytime, anywhere, and gets smarter as he talks to and learns from more patients. “Through our new platform, patients receive handcrafted chronic illness support and coaching, proactive medication and appointment reminders, treatment and drug information, and personalized follow-up questions to track patient-reported health outcomes, all personalized to their condition and treatments via text message,” said Patel.
Pillo, Orbita team on medication adherence robot
BOSTON – Pillo Health is partnering with voice assistant and artificial intelligence company Orbita to power Pillo’s care management platform and home companion health care robot to support medication adherence. “The Pillo device serves as a 24/7 in-home extension of the care team to accompany a patient at every point on their care journey,” said Emanuele Musini, CEO of Pillo Health, in a statement. “Combining voice-first technology with algorithms and architecture dedicated to health care is critical to optimizing the power of Pillo as an intelligent in-home care assistant.” Leveraging the power of voice experiences, artificial intelligence and data analytics, Pillo assists users with complex therapy regimens, encourages adherence to provider-directed care plans, enables connectivity to care teams and captures health data from inside the home. “Pillo holds great potential as a highly robust entrant in the world of artificially intelligent in-home digital assistants,” said Nathan Treloar, president of Orbita, in a statement. “We’re seeing rapid advances in voice, AI and analytics to bring health care to a whole new level.”
Mexico deregulates 2,000 low risk devices
MEXICO CITY – Mexico is updating its medical device classification process, allowing the deregulation of more than 2,000 products considered low risk. The country’s Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) said that by deregulating the lower-risk devices, it will be able to focus on enabling earlier access for innovative devices. The announcement marks the third deregulatory listing for medical devices, following the deregulation of 1,669 in the first stage and 573 in the second stage, according to BMI Research. The revised device classification is a move toward harmonization with international standards. Mexico is the leading exporter of medical devices in Latin America, and it ranks eighth internationally, according to COFEPRIS.
PatientPoint, MeUCare to offer patient and physician engagement platform
CINCINNATI and IRVINE, Calif. – PatientPoint is partnering with MeUCare to release PatientPoint Connect, a point-of-care mobile engagement and communications platform. The platform will allow health systems, hospitals and providers to deliver HIPAA-compliant multimedia messaging and education to patients and caregivers, extending quality care beyond office or hospital walls. “By extending the notion of ‘point of care’ beyond the brick-and-mortar office, this platform will help providers improve therapy adherence and reduce readmissions, ultimately increasing quality scores and quality-based reimbursement,” said Chris Martini, chief provider officer and president of PatientPoint, in a statement.
PatientPoint Connect—powered by MeU Care—will serve as a central hub for providers to facilitate and monitor interactive communication, deliver relevant education and important facility/practice information, and conduct e-visits. “We know that using multidirectional multimedia to explain and communicate about a condition extends care and boosts efficiencies, particularly in our smartphone-centric culture,” said Kendall Lockhart, founder of MeU Care, in a statement. “We’re excited to incorporate trusted PatientPoint education and enhance our functionality to reach patients and caregivers with prescribed content during and between their hospital and physician office visits to encourage better outcomes.”
Orbita to offer Mayo Clinic health content through voice platform
BOSTON – Orbita, Inc., a voice technology provider, and Mayo Clinic have formed a relationship to deliver Mayo Clinic health and wellness content through Orbita’s voice health platform. “Millions of people trust Mayo Clinic to deliver expert, comprehensive care, as well as credible health knowledge and expertise,” said Dr. Sandhya Pruthi, associate medical director, Mayo Clinic Global Business Solutions, in a statement.
“Leveraging Orbita’s technology and expertise, we can extend beyond the traditional digital channels of web and mobile to enable meaningful, content-driven conversations at the time and place information is needed.” Early deployments of voice assistive and conversational solutions in health care are showing positive results, with data demonstrating better patient adoption and engagement, especially among high-risk populations, said Nathan Treloar, president of Orbita, in a statement.
Countries form Digital Health Partnership
CANBERRA, Australia – Participants from 13 countries have joined to form the Global Digital Health Partnership, a new global network between governments, government agencies and multinational organizations responsible for policy, funding and delivery of health services to their citizens to support best use of digital technology in modern health care. “Digital Health is the penicillin of our time, with precision medicine and genomics offering opportunities to cure previously incurable diseases and deliver better life saving medicine,” said Greg Hunt, Australian Minister for Health, in a statement. He said the partnership will create a common platform for international experts to share knowledge and experiences, to network and to forecast emerging trends to support the digital health landscape. Over the next year, the Global Digital Health Partnership will collaborate on topics including: connected and interoperable health care; cyber security; policies that support digital health outcomes; clinician and consumer engagement; and evidence and evaluation of digital health. “It is important that guidelines created by governments and other agencies are co-produced with the needs of innovators, industries, clinicians and the community,” Tim Kelsey, CEO of the Australia Digital Health Agency, in a statement. Participating countries include: Austria, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong SAR, India, Indonesia, Italy, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Sweden, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
VoCare device measures six vitals
INDIANAPOLIS – VoCare has introduced a professional grade medical diagnostic device that collects six different health vitals. The Vitals360 device is equipped with WiFi, Bluetooth and 4G LTE for data transmission, without the need for separate peripherals or an external hub. It can be used for both point-of-care and remote patient monitoring. “We are looking forward to helping providers reduce healthcare costs, as well as ensuring better outcomes for their exploding chronically ill patient population,” said Steven Peabody, CEO of VoCare, in a statement. The VoCare platform uses one connected device to allow the management of multiple chronic conditions like diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hypertension, and provides measurements of blood glucose, blood pressure, pulse, oximetry, temperature and electrocardiography.
Evidation launches DiSCover Project
SAN MATEO, Calif. – Evidation Health has launched the DiSCover Project to develop digital biomarkers for chronic pain severity, flare-ups and quality of life.
“We chose to focus on chronic pain because of its prevalence, national importance, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that it still lacks treatments and solutions that work for many patients,” said Claire Meunier, a project researcher, in a statement.
The DisCover Project is a one-year longitudinal case-control observational study to collect different types of data and form a new understanding of chronic pain. Evidation Health will recruit 10,000 participants to participate in the virtual study. Participants will be asked to contribute monthly surveys on their health, medical history and current experience with pain, as well as data from activity trackers and health and fitness apps. Based on those contributions, participants may be asked to also add another wearable or sensor, use a new smartphone app, contribute a saliva or blood lab sample, record a phone conversation or take an at-home genetic test.
“By accounting for what’s inside a person as well as what they do and their surroundings, we get a fuller picture of the person and can quantify chronic pain biomarkers that could lead to better outcomes and care for these patients,” said Meunier.
Wearable throat sensor aids in stroke recovery
EVANSTON, Ill. – Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a wearable sensor designed to be worn on the throat to support patients recovering from a stroke. The sensor is part of a growing portfolio of stretchable electronics developed by John Rogers, an engineering professor at NU, in partnership with Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, that are precise enough for use in advanced medical care and portable enough to be worn outside the hospital, even during extreme exercise.
“Stretchable electronics allow us to see what is going on inside patients’ bodies at a level traditional wearables simply cannot achieve,” said Rogers in a statement. “The key is to make them as integrated as possible with the human body.”
The sensors stick directly to the skin, moving with the body and providing detailed health metrics, including heart function, muscle activity and sleep quality. They measure patients’ swallowing ability and patterns of speech, and aid in the diagnosis and treatment of aphasia, a communication disorder associated with stroke. The tools that speech-language pathologists have traditionally used to monitor patients’ speech function—such as microphones—cannot distinguish between patients’ voices and ambient noise.
“Our sensors solve that problem by measuring vibrations of the vocal cords,” Rogers said.
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a research hospital in Chicago, uses the throat sensor in conjunction with electronic biosensors on the legs, arms and chest to monitor stroke patients’ recovery progress. The intermodal system of sensors streams data wirelessly to clinicians’ phones and computers, providing a quantitative, full-body picture of patients’ advanced physical and physiological responses in real time.
“One of the biggest problems we face with stroke patients is that their gains tend to drop off when they leave the hospital,” said Arun Jayaraman, research scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, in a statement. “With the home monitoring enabled by these sensors, we can intervene at the right time, which could lead to better, faster recoveries for patients.”