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.”
‘mHealth is a huge opportunity for us to be as close to the patient as possible’
ATLANTA – Mobile telehealth and remote patient monitoring company SynsorMed is seeking strategic partnerships to reach patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The company recently announced a partnership with oxygen delivery equipment manufacturer CAIRE Inc. that created “CAIREview powered by SynsorMed,” a mobile solution to monitor patient conditions outside of the hospital by connecting a patient’s oxygen concentrator to a customized dashboard and mobile app.
“We’re right there in that key space,” said Theo Harvey, co-founder of SynsorMed. “mHealth technology is a huge opportunity for us to be as close to the patient as possible.”
SynsorMed’s platform encourages patient engagement and compliance by combining telehealth, remote patient monitoring and machine learning. A mobile app connects to health monitoring devices in the home, collecting and analyzing data to give a complete picture of a patient’s health status.
SynsorMed is also seeking partnerships with health systems and clinicians, and is considering integrating a voice-enabled notification engine to its platform.
“In health care, it can seem like you’re going back in time when it comes to technology,” he said. “There was some initial hesitation by providers as telehealth solutions were just taking off, but we’re starting to see a shift as the newness is wearing off and mobile devices are becoming ubiquitous.”
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Lack of participation has suspended a study to evaluate the effectiveness of mHealth apps in supporting patients’ health management, according to researchers who recently published an article in JMIR Human Factors. “This brief trial underscores the pitfalls in the utilization of mHealth apps,” wrote Kathleen Thies, one of the researchers, in the article. The study required patients to enter clinical data into an app, where they could communicate with providers. After four months of recruitment, the study was suspended due to low enrollment and inconsistent use of the app, and the aim of the project was changed to understanding why it was unsuccessful. “Effective use of mHealth tools requires a good fit between the app, the users’ electronic health literacy, the treatment approach, staff time and reimbursement for services,” Thies wrote. “We recommend that researchers address contextual factors in the trial and adoption of mHealth technologies.”
STAMFORD, Conn. and DANVILLE, Pa. – The first patient has been enrolled in a joint Purdue Pharma/Geisinger study on the effects of wearables on treating chronic pain. The study is designed to demonstrate how the use of wearable health technology by chronic pain patients treated at a specialty clinic may improve both patient and healthcare system outcomes. The study will use an Apple Watch to take measures to guide the patient toward non-pharmaceutical treatment alternatives. “The goal of this technology is to improve patient function and quality of life while reducing the need for analgesic medications,” said Dr. Tracy Mayne, head of strategic research at Purdue Pharma, in a statement. The Apple Watch will include a pain app developed for this study and a healthcare provider dashboard, and will integrate with Geisinger’s electronic medical record. “We are incorporating advanced technology into the traditional healthcare setting to redirect and empower the patient to take more control of their own well-being,” said Dr. John Han, director of the department of pain medicine at Geisinger, in a statement.
ROCHESTER, NY – Engineers and clinicians at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the University of Rochester Medical Center are developing a health app to assess atrial fibrillation.
The researchers received a grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop a non-contact, video recording technology to detect the presence of atrial fibrillation—a heart rhythm disorder that affects more than 2 million Americans yearly.
“We have shown that the technology developed at RIT is reliable enough to be used as a clinical tool in controlled hospital environments,” said Gill Tsouri, co-project lead, in a statement.
The URMC received $2 million in funding for the project, and RIT will be granted nearly $800,000 from that funding for its portion of the collaborative project to develop the video algorithm.
The application will be installed on a tablet and run seamlessly in the background while an individual is using the tablet. The software will record the individual’s heart rhythm for a longer monitoring period to capture data related to heart activity—compared to the shorter interval in a medical setting for EEG/ECG monitoring tests.
Tablets will be provided to more than 260 patients who are expected to be enrolled in the study over the next four years.
“The end goal of all of this is to show that it is a clinically viable approach, which means that seamlessly capturing videos without user participation provides significant data that could be used to deduce their cardiac condition,” said Tsouri.
Participants will also wear an electrocardiogram patch, another means to monitor for atrial fibrillation. Researchers will compare data from the patch and the tablet to determine how accurate the tablet technology is in detecting the irregular heartbeats.
“Our technology is unique because it requires no action on the part of the user aside from what they normally do—go on a tablet to shop, look at pictures, read articles or whatever they like,” said Jean Philippe Couderc, co-leader of the project, in a statement. “If you are at risk for AFib, you install it on your tablet or phone and don’t think about it anymore.”
Couderc has conducted a series of smaller studies that confirm AFib can be detected from video of an individual’s face. The new clinical study will move the technology closer to commercialization.
Couderc received additional funding from NIH’s Concept to Clinic: Commercializing Innovation Program, which will provide training and tools to help bring the concept to market.
The researchers said the app would not replace ECG monitoring tests that measure the electrical activity of the heart using contact-based sensing, but would replace PPG, a pulse plethysmograph that illuminates the skin and measures the volume changes in blood during a heartbeat. The app, with its unobtrusive technique and ability to capture more of this type of data, could determine, with a high percent of accuracy, an individual’s risk for atrial fibrillation.
“We are moving from monitoring a person for 30 seconds once-a-year to a few hours a day,” said Tsouri.