HOUSTON – Technology from emocha was successful in helping Harris County patients with tuberculosis manage their medications in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey last September, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the 61 patients enrolled in the state’s video directly observed therapy program for TB, 59 did not miss a single dose, the CDC found.
Directly observed therapy of patients, where a patient takes each dose of their TB medication in front of a health care provider either in person or virtually, is a cornerstone of TB control activity, said Sandra Morris, TB controller for the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“Video-enabled DOT using electronic devices, such as smartphones, has become a useful tool for patients who cannot visit, or be visited by, a health care provider,” she said.
The Texas Department of State Health Services uses federal and state funding for TB surveillance, prevention and control activities in eight health service regions and 31 local health departments, Morris said. In advance of major storms, protocols for providing patients with medications to take on their own are activated.
Harris County has been using emocha’s VDOT technology for three years following a successful pilot, said Sebastian Seiguer, CEO of emocha. The technology has a high rate of success because, when patients know someone will be watching them take their medications, they are more apt to do it, he said.
“The fact that a provider cares enough to make an appointment with you to watch you take your medications strengthens the patient-provider relationship,” he said.
During the hurricane, patients recorded themselves taking their medications on a smartphone. The video was saved until services were restored, then automatically uploaded to their provider through a mobile app.
“During Hurricane Harvey, the high proportion of patients successfully managed through video-enabled DOT demonstrates that it can help ensure TB treatment completion when regular treatment options have been disrupted by a major storm or other disaster,” said Morris.