LOS ANGELES – Researchers at the University of Southern California will use a grant from the National Institute on Aging to develop and test a mobile app designed to increase seniors’ levels of physical activity. “We’re looking at a wonderful opportunity for utilizing mobile devices to promote wellness and prevent disease,” said Stacey Schepens Niemiec, assistant professor of research at the USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, in a statement. The MovingUp app features messaging that promotes positive attitudes toward aging, a coach that suggests ways to intensify everyday activities and peer-generated suggestions for activities to combat sedentary time. The researchers will beta test the app with research participants and analyze the resulting data to discover what parts of the app are most effective and why. “We intend to truly harness this technology’s life-changing potential for older adults,” said Schepens Niemiec.
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – The New Jersey Health Foundation has awarded a $50,000 Innovation Grant to Eon Soo Lee, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, to advance the development of a microfluidic chip that provides instant diagnostic results, advancing earlier detection and diagnosis for patients.
If successful, the biochip will expedite the diagnosis of many diseases, including viral infections and cancers.
“We are interested in Dr. Lee’s project because the biochip he is developing would provide instant results at a local office or point of care without needing sample preparation,” said Dr. George Heinrich, vice chairman and CEO of NJHF, in a statement.
The biochip will also reduce the possibility of sample contamination by minimizing the need for flow control devices and connecting tubes.
Heinrich said doctors currently rely on diagnostic devices that require a minimum of four hours of sample preparation through centralized diagnostic centers.
“As we know, early detection can improve treatment outcomes for patients significantly,” he said.
Lee previously won funding for his research from the National Science Foundation I-Corps program as an NJIT site team, and then from the agency’s national program.
“The customer insights Dr. Lee gained through I-Corps provided market validation for the discussions with New Jersey Health Foundation that led to this project,” said Judith Sheft, associate vice president for technology and enterprise development at NJIT’s New Jersey Innovation Institute, in a statement. “We anticipate additional collaborations with NJHF that will leverage our respective capabilities to bring new technologies to the market.”
VANCOUVER, Wash. – A team of researchers from Washington State University has received a $1.77 million grant from the National Institution of Nursing Research to use artificial intelligence to interpret changes in the health of seniors aging in place.
“If we can understand changes in health states, then we can proactively intervene rather than reactively,” said Roschelle Fritz, assistant professor in the WSU College of Nursing, and one of the researchers.
The “clinician-in-the-loop” research project expands on work by Diane Cook and Maureen Schmitter-Edgecombe, the other researchers on the team, who developed a health-assistive smart home equipped with motion and infrared sensors. The technology uses intelligent algorithms that can accurately detect and label more than 40 activities of daily living and behavior patterns of older adults.
Fritz deployed the technology at a retirement community last year, with a goal of evaluating the clinical relevance of raw data from the sensors in detecting health changes in older adults with multiple chronic conditions.
“If we can detect 40 known ADLs with accuracy, we can probably train that machine what is abnormal regarding health,” Fritz said. “That could be a really big thing.”
The new grant will fund health care professionals making home health visits to review the information collected by the sensors and identify data relevant to a patient’s health and safety. Using that data, engineers will then create computer algorithms to recognize meaningful behavior patterns.
Fritz said her team’s work is not meant to replace caregivers, but to help extend the reach of nurses and physicians as health care moves away from hospitals and into homes.
“It will be a really long time before we see robots giving care, but the ability to monitor people without too much of an invasion of privacy is something we will see very soon,” she said.
WATERTOWN, Mass. – Wearable sensor developer BioSensics has received $2.5 million in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health to develop a wearable monitor for patients with Huntington’s disease.
“HD patients often have to travel long distances to be seen by knowledgeable HD clinicians,” said Dr. George Yohrling, senior director of mission and scientific affairs of the Huntington’s Disease Society of America, in a statement. “The development and eventual integration of wearable biosensors into a HD clinic would allow for remote monitoring of a patient’s motor symptoms and could alleviate this unnecessary burden on the entire HD family.”
The device, called HDWear, is powered by BioSensics’ PAMSys sensor technology and enables continuous remote monitoring of Huntington’s disease motor symptoms.
The two-year project will build on pilot work performed in collaboration with the University of Rochester Medical Center and Teva Pharmaceuticals, and published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease in 2016. The study demonstrated a wearable sensor solution for remotely monitoring the severity of upper extremity chorea in Huntington’s disease.
HDWear will provide real-time, remote access to quantitative motor symptom scores like the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale, previously only possible through in-clinic assessments.
As a part of the project, BioSensics and the University of Rochester Medical Center will conduct a clinical study to evaluate HDWear for detecting pharmacological response to anti-chorea medication or subtle motor abnormalities in the premanifest stage of Huntington’s disease.
“We are excited to be working with BioSensics on evaluating wearable sensors to obtain objective, high frequency, and potentially sensitive assessments of individuals with Huntington’s disease, both inside and outside the clinic,” said Dr. Ray Dorsey, director of the Center for Health & Technology at University of Rochester Medical Center, in a statement.
“We look forward to creating a comprehensive telecare solution for Huntington’s disease to facilitate clinical research and new drug development, and ultimately to improve and revolutionize HD care and care coordination,” said Dr. Joseph Gwin, vice president of research and development at BioSensics.
PITTSBURG, Kans. – The Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas will use a UnitedHealthcare Frontier Rural Health Care grant to expand a pilot telemedicine program into a fully functioning system.
CHCSEK will use the $48,000 in grant funds to purchase additional telemedicine setups for its clinics and to expand its network of specialty providers.
“The technology of this telemedicine program is amazing and has let us do what we do better and faster,” said Jason Wesco, executive vice president of CHCSEK.
CHCSEK’s telemedicine program gives people in rural or underserved parts of the state access to specialty physicians like dermatologists. It uses webcams, monitors and platform software, as well as smartphones with attachments and connected health devices, to provide care to its patients, many of whom are uninsured.
CHCSEK implemented the specialty telemedicine program in July and so far has treated 40 to 50 patients, mostly for dermatology care, for a flat fee of $75 for uninsured patients.
Access to specialty care has consistently been identified as the top challenge of providers in the CHCSEK telemedicine program, said Wesco. Many patients don’t pursue a referral to a specialist because they either can’t afford it or because the specialist is too far away.
“Now we can help the patient stay focused on what they need to do, which is take care of their health,” he said.
CHCSEK hopes its telemedicine program can serve as a model to other similar organizations and eliminate barriers to access one challenge at a time, Wesco said.
“This is really a natural next extension of what we already do,” he said. “We hope it can be a catalyst for others to do it, too.”
The UnitedHealthcare Frontier Rural Health Care grant program was established earlier this year. Four grants totaling $186,000 were awarded last month to organizations across Kansas.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Texas A&M University will use a $20 million grant from the National Science Foundation to develop health technologies for people with chronic diseases in underserved communities across the country.
The Engineering Research Center on Precise Advanced Technologies and Health Systems for Underserved Populations (PATHS-UP), a program led by Texas A&M with the University of California at Los Angeles, Rice University and Florida International University, will develop revolutionary, cost-effective technologies and systems at the point-of-care, wrote program investigators in an abstract submitted to the NSF.
The program will develop under-the-skin sensors and handheld devices for patients in underserved communities to track diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and to prevent and delay the onset and management of those conditions.
“This requires both the development of transformational health technologies and systems and a paradigm shift in how these technologies are integrated into communities,” wrote the investigators.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Health Resources and Services Administration has renewed a grant to the South Central Telehealth Resource Center at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for telehealth education. The three-year grant totals $975,000, and marks the third time the HRSA has renewed its financial support since it supplied funding to establish the center in 2010. “This grant recognizes the value we are bringing to telehealth in the south central region, especially in teaching telehealth to underserved communities who are using it to get access to specialists beyond their local areas, as well as other health professionals they otherwise couldn’t reach,” said Sarah Rhoads, director of the SCTRC. The resource center, which serves Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee, focuses on providing telehealth education through its website, LearnTelehealth.org, which features custom videos, course modules, podcasts, blogs and other resources designed specifically for health care professionals interested in creating or expanding the use of telemedicine within their practices.
BALTIMORE ‑ Medication adherence startup emocha Mobile Health has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research award by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) to demonstrate the feasibility of video directly-observed-therapy (DOT) for patients undergoing the initiation phase of buprenorphine treatment through office-based opioid treatment (OBOT) programs.
The company will be developing the technology for partnerships with the University of Washington School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center.
“This project with emocha will allow us as clinicians and researchers to examine a new platform that has potential to expand our medicine bag with a technological aid that helps patients achieve a successful recovery,” said Dr. Jeffrey Samet, chief of general internal medicine at Boston Medical Center, in a statement.
Through the NIH Fast-Track mechanism, the Phase 1 award will total $225,000, with an additional $1.5 million for Phase 2 granted upon achieving milestones.
Outcomes of interest will include adherence, retention in care, measures of illicit opioid use and abstinence, and medication diversion.
emocha’s video-based DOT technology is used in several public health departments monitoring TB patients and those with hepatitis C. In a recent Johns Hopkins study of emocha’s platform for TB, patients achieved 92% average adherence to medication.
“I am excited for this opportunity to partner with emocha to learn if this new technology can support patients who are engaging in treatment for opioid use disorders with buprenorphine,” said Dr. Judith Tsui an associate professor of medicine at the UW School of Medicine, in a statement.
ASHDOWN, Ark. – Baxter Regional Medical Center has been awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide a telehealth care management program. The $320,538 grant will fund a program that includes remote patient monitoring and a free, 24-hour nurse help line. BRMC was one of 18 projects in 16 states to receive such a grant.
AMHERST, Mass. The University of Massachusetts College of Nursing has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research to create a center where scientists will develop technologies to help people with chronic illness manage fatigue and impaired sleep.
“The creation of the UManage Center is an outstanding achievement for our nurse researchers,” said Stephen Cavanagh, dean of the College of Nursing, in a statement. “The center will create an environment where they can work and collaborate with other outstanding scholars working toward the common goal of improving health and the quality of life for those suffering from chronic illnesses.”
The five-year grant will fund studies on wearable and handheld devices that monitor fatigue or sleep pattern changes, and how these devices can help patients decide when and how to modify their activities.
Cynthia Jacelon, professor of nursing and the center director, said that nurse-led interdisciplinary teams will use emerging technologies being developed on the UMass Amherst campus to help manage symptoms affecting patients. The new wearable or handheld devices will help them stop and rest, or change their sleep hygiene.
Researchers will collaborate with industry partners and use many of the laboratories and equipment in the campus Institute for Applied Life Sciences in their work.
The first two research projects will include a wearable eye-tracking technology to help cancer survivors monitor and self-manage persistent fatigue, and a study of cortisol in sweat as a potential stress and fatigue indicator to help patients manage their behavior and responses.
The UManage Center will fund 10 pilot research projects over the next five years to offer nursing faculty the opportunity to develop strategies to help individuals improve their health, and to design larger, population-based studies and expand their research capacity to work with interdisciplinary research teams.