BALTIMORE – Computer scientists at Johns Hopkins University have developed a way to manage the varying severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms by using a smartphone app, according to a study published recently in the online journal JAMA Neurology. The app uses sensors to generate a score that reliably reflects the symptom severity. Patients can use the app to monitor symptoms in their home and share this data with their doctor to help fine-tune their treatment. “If you think about it, it sounds crazy, but until these types of studies, we had very limited data on how these people function on Saturdays and Sundays because patients don’t come to the clinic on Saturdays or Sundays,” said E. Ray Dorsey, a co-author of the research paper, in a statement. “We also had very limited data about how people with Parkinson’s do at 2:00 a.m. or 11:00 p.m. because unless they’re hospitalized, they’re generally not being seen in clinics at those times.” Using existing smartphone components, such as its microphone, touch screen and accelerometer, the team members devised five simple tasks involving voice sensing, finger tapping, gait measurement, balance and reaction time to create the app. Using a machine learning technique that the team devised, they were able to convert the data collected with these tests into an objective Parkinson’s disease severity score—a score that better reflected the overall severity of patients’ symptoms and how well they were responding to medication. This smartphone evaluation, the researchers say, should be useful because it doesn’t rely on the subjective observations of a medical staff member. It can also be administered any time of day in a clinic or within the patient’s home, where the patient is less likely to be as nervous as in a medical setting. “Not all research gets integrated tangibly into people’s lives,” said Srihari Mohan, another researcher, in a statement. “What excites me most is the potential for the methods we developed to be deployed seamlessly into a patient’s lifestyle and improve the quality of care.”
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Use of a mobile app doubled the proportion of patients who were screened for colorectal cancer, according to a study conducted by researchers at Wake Forest School of Medicine and published recently in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The Mobile Patient Technology for Health–CRC app informs patients of the need for screening and gives them the ability to self-order tests. Study participants who interacted with mPATH-CRC viewed an 8.6-minute decision aid about screening and reviewed the two most commonly used tests, fecal testing for blood and colonoscopy. The app then let patients select their own screening test. Screening was completed by 30% of the mPATH-CRC participants, compared to 15% of those receiving usual care. More mPATH-CRC participants could state a screening preference, planned to be screened within six months, discussed screening with their provider and had a screening test ordered. Half of mPATH-CRC participants self-ordered a test through the app. “Two components of mPATH-CRC directly encourage screening orders: the decision aid, which increases patients’ intention to receive screening, and the ability to self-order tests, which decreases barriers to order entry,” said Dr. David Miller Jr., author of the study.
NEW DELHI – Research university Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham and Wipro Limited, a global information technology company, jointly won the 2017 Aegis Graham Bell Award in February. They were recognized in the Innovation in mHealth category for their joint initiative, “Redefining Primary Comfort Using mHealth.” The two entities have developed a mobile health solution using a glucose monitoring system integrated with a cloud-based monitoring application for providing more efficient and effective diabetes care. “This award is a testimony to not just the novel, first-of-its kind diabetes management solution that has been developed, but also underscores the potential of what can be achieved in the health care sector through unique partnerships such as the one we have with Wipro,” said Dr. Bipin Nair, dean of the Amrita School of Biotechnology, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, in a statement. The Wipro-Amrita Diabetes Management Solution will provide a cost-effective, non-enzymatic glucose sensing solution for diabetes care, while promoting a healthy diet and active lifestyle, said Nair. It will also enhance health screening and early diagnosis; contribute toward better adherence to drug and dietary regimen; and encourage diabetes self-care activities and help prevent complications. The Aegis Graham Bell Award is the largest innovation award for the ICT domain in India.
BALTIMORE, Md. – Patients with prediabetes lost weight and increased physical activity by using a mobile coaching program from Sweetch, according to a study by Johns Hopkins that was recently published in JMIR. “Mobile health technologies potentially represent an ideal method to deliver diabetes prevention interventions on a large scale given the ability to reach sizable numbers of patients at substantially lower costs than human-based interventions,” wrote Dr. Nestoras Mathioudakis, clinical director of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at Johns Hopkins and the study’s leader, in the study. The three-month study included 50 participants who downloaded the Sweetch app onto their smartphone to use in combination with a digital weight scale. The study found that participants lost a mean 3.5 pounds and significantly improved weekly physical activity over the course of the trial. Participants also saw a decrease in HBa1C or glycated hemoglobin levels. “The novelty of the Sweetch mobile platform is that it optimizes, in real time and using fully automated algorithms, the messages each user gets so to achieve best possible compliance,” Mathioudakis wrote. He wrote that while the study results are promising, future studies will be required to confirm the sustainability of these findings over a longer follow-up period.
LONG BEACH, Calif. – An mHealth coaching program helped obese patients lose a significant amount of weight, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. “Mobile phone-based health coaching may promote weight loss,” the researchers at California State University at Long Beach, the University of Saint Mary, UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and InHealth Medical Services wrote. A total of 25 obese participants were recruited for an online 12-week weight loss program. Participants were randomly assigned to either an intervention group or control group, and all participants were given access to a secure platform for data tracking and video conferencing with the research team. The intervention group met with the medical doctor once per month and with a registered dietitian, weekly. Control participants met with the research team at baseline and at 12 weeks. Almost 70% of the intervention group reached a “clinically significant” weight loss, while only 8% of the control group lost a significant amount of weight. “Weekly video conferencing with education may be an applicable tool for inducing significant body weight loss in obese individuals,” the researchers concluded.
DORTMUND, Germany – Many mHealth apps do not provide adequate security when transmitting data, according to a study published recently in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Researchers at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Germany tested 53 of the most downloaded free mHealth apps for data transport issues, with 40% of the apps failing the test. Private information was leaked from 18 of the apps and 17 used unprotected connections. “Insufficient transport security can lead to confidentiality issues for patients and medical professionals, as well as safety issues regarding data integrity,” wrote the study’s authors. “mHealth apps should therefore deploy intensified vigilance to protect their data and integrity.”
LONDON – Health app assessor Our Mobile Health and the charity organization Parkinson’s U.K. are partnering to create a curated library of mHealth apps and devices for people with Parkinson’s disease. “We believe that technology is a vital part of helping people with the condition live empowered lives,” said Julie Dodd, director of digital transformation and communication at Parkinson’s U.K., in a statement. “Not only will all the apps and devices in our library have been rigorously quality checked by Our Mobile Health, but our user panel will provide real-life feedback and guidance for other users.” In the library, which is expected to launch in 2018, people with Parkinson’s can expect to find apps that track symptoms and help them to manage their condition. Our Mobile Health will source the apps from developers and review them against their quality assurance process. The reviews are conducted by a panel of independent experts and look at a range of areas like patient safety, data security and indicators of effectiveness.”
BREA, Calif. – PharMedQuest, a health care management company, has made a strategic investment in helparound, a company that provides a mobile app to support people with chronic conditions. PharMedQuest is working with helparound to enhance its clinical customer relationship management solution, ACE, which focuses on managing patients with complex diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. “We are excited to partner with helparound to match patients who have complex diseases with the appropriate resources and improve their access to care,” said Chris Nee, CEO of PharMedQuest, in a statement. “We think that customized interactions with patients in their real-life environment will lead to cost-effective quality care.” Pharmaceutical marketers and hubs are able to share information with patients on the helparound app, which gives users educational resources, real-time patient support and crowd-sourced community support. It also has a mobile channel to engage its patients, improve access to care and increase retention and adherence.
NEW YORK – mHealth can encourage patients with chronic diseases to modify their behaviors, according to a recent study.
“Empowering Patients Using Smart Mobile Health Platforms: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment,” a study which combined data from a Chinese mHealth firm, as well as the Office of Chronic Disease Management in China, evaluated the potential value of technologies such as mobile health apps and mobile-enabled EHRs, and the importance of mHealth platform design, in achieving better health care outcomes.
“By assisting patients with behavior modification and disease self-management, mHealth platforms have tremendous potential for improving health outcomes and reducing medical costs,” said Anindya Ghose, a co-author of a paper on the study, in a statement. “With this research, companies have an opportunity to better understand patients’ interaction with mHealth technology and design elements that will be most effective for patient adoption and engagement.”
Analyzing almost 10,000 unique responses from diabetes patients over 15 months, the study revealed: Patients who adopt the mHealth platform see more than a 2000% reduction, on average, in glucose levels over time. They also show an average 327% reduction in hospital visits and 799% reduction in medical expenses.
Other findings from the study: Mobility is key to patients’ self-management success; and platform design is critical to achieving better health outcomes.
DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy recently gathered several experts to form recommendations on accelerating the use of mHealth technologies for research on medical treatments.
“There is not yet a clear path for how mHealth technologies can reliably and efficiently elicit, validate and transmit relevant data, and such data are currently not being collected on a sustained and longitudinal basis,” wrote the authors of the recently released report, “Mobilizing mHealth Innovation for Real-World Evidence Generation.”
The aim of the working group of experts from throughout the health care and mHealth ecosystem was to create collaborations between the patient, clinical and research communities, and mHealth companies to advance the science on collecting and using mHealth data for evidence generation.
The group made several recommendations in its report, including:
- Establish a learning research community to advance the development and use of patient/consumer-facing mHealth technologies in evidence generation;
- Ensure efficient access to well-characterized, standardized and robust user-generated health data; and
- Use mHealth to promote easier participation in research through the awareness of and adoption of standardized approaches for informed consent and patient privacy.
“Mobile health data for novel real-world evidence generation have the potential to transform health care,” wrote the report’s authors. “The steps described here can help harness the power of mHealth to achieve this transformation while balancing the needs of the patient/consumer, researchers and the mHealth companies in a responsible, ethical and empowering way.”