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Christen Harm is Pharmaceutical Executive's Associate Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Highlighting a sampling of new digital health devices that span the wide focus terrain in health technology.
What comes to mind when you hear the phrase “digital health?” I immediately jump to wearables, devices, and mobile apps. The running joke that there’s an app for that isn’t lost on the healthcare arena. But what can we really consider as the digital health “healthcare arena?” With fitness trackers in demand, the plethora of applications considered “health” related are endless; digital devices can benefit patient efficacy, treatment, and drug adherence. A survey by Transcend Insights found that 64% of patients admit to using digital devices and mobile apps to manage their health and 71% think it would be beneficial for their doctor to have access to this information as part of their medical history.
The following is a sampling of current digital health devices that can offer relief, assistance, and understanding to patients spanning various diseases and conditions and better communication with doctors. We break our list down into focus areas that all contribute to the digital health sphere-patient engagement, product enhancement, platform solutions, and combination therapy.
The myriad of new digital health solutions, platforms, tech start-ups, and more are the future for digital health and are important for pharmaceutical development. Patients are already engaging with digital devices for a range of uses, but pharma is also embracing this evolution and creating its own space in the digital sphere.
Qardiocore, Qardio Inc.
QardioCore is a wireless electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor that wraps around the chest. Available for a variety of uses-the tool was created for people with increased health risk caused by family predisposition, history of heart attacks or strokes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and excess weight. The monitor tracks complete heart health onto smartphones, providing medically accurate electrocardiograph trace for deeper heart health insights, which users can automatically share with doctors. This allows doctors better monitoring and preventative care for heart conditions. QardioCore records over 20 million data points each day, enabling users to better manage heart conditions. It also monitors heart rate and heart rate variability, skin temperature, respiratory rate, and activity tracking. The device is currently available for pre-order and is expected to be available in August.
Bodytrak, Inova Design Solutions Ltd
Bodytrak is an in-ear device that records body temperature, heart rate, VO2 and motion. Its benefits to healthcare range from pediatrics to geriatrics and from in-patient hospital care to out-patient healthcare-including telecare and telehealth. The ability to accurately monitor multiple vital signs continuously can help reduce injury, detect illness or relapses, and improve recovery time.
In case of a fall or collapse, Bodytrak immediately signals for help. All data is sent wirelessly from the device, in real-time, to a cloud-based analytics platform by way of a smartphone, tablet, smartwatch, or internet hub-allowing for physiological changes to be identified quickly for earlier intervention and closer management of individual performance. Currently, Bodytrak is unavailable to purchase, but is going through development, field trials, and testing.
Digital health solutions that are considered product enhancement are already on the market (e.g., inhalers, monitors) but now have additional components included that make it easier and more efficient for patient care by connecting to mobile devices.
Intelligent Control Inhaler, 3M
3M looked at studies showing 94% of inhaler users making mistakes using their devices and 60% who lack medication adherence with an urgency for understanding and change. The company’s launch of the Intelligent Control Inhaler provides patients a simple, intuitive, breath-actuated inhaler that delivers flow rate, and removes breath-profile variability and user-operation variability without the need for technique training. The inhaler links to digital devices to deliver patients additional information regarding usage, allows them to set reminders, and transmit adherence data. The adherence data will help healthcare providers (HCPs) and payers receive a better understanding of patient progress and direct patient care.
Diabnext’s Clipsulin is a smart insulin injection recorder that clips onto any insulin pen, including reusable pens. The device records the dose, date, and time of each injection. The collected data is then transferred via Bluetooth and stored onto its compatible mobile app logbook. Logbooks can be shared with doctors, nurses, or other HCPs, to receive better care and advice. The app also provides tables and graphs of data to help patients manage their diabetes metrics. The ability to check their last injection and how many units used in each dose helps avoid mistakes that can cause hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia. The recorder is currently available for pre-order.
Platform solutions are broader applications that create a space allowing for multi-faceted solutions and opportunities. Platforms connect with various wearables for healthcare, medical, pharma, and fitness. Platform solutions address more than one thing, rather than just one end-goal solution, and can be used across the board instead of just one particular application.
emocha, emocha Mobile Health
emocha is a mobile technology platform solution that focuses on improving patient adherence, with the use of video-based directly observed therapy (VDOT). Patients first record themselves taking their medication on their mobile device; then, providers verify each dose on a HIPAA-compliant platform, assessing adherence analytics, and support patients through treatment. Patients achieve 90%-plus average adherence, according to information provided emocha Mobile Health. The platform also allows patients to report symptoms. It has been used by patients with tuberculosis and multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), HIV, hepatitis C, hemophilia, cancer, diabetes, and more.
Propeller, Propeller Health
Propeller is a platform for people managing asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Patients can sign up online, using a smartphone or computer, and receive the Propeller sensor in the mail. The sensor attaches to most inhalers and doesn’t affect how medications are inhaled. It sends insights about inhale techniques and symptom triggers to mobile devices, helping patients understand what causes their specific symptoms. Currently, the tool is available by going through one of Propeller’s 50 commercial partners.
Combination therapy digital devices compliment the treatment of drugs that are already on the market or coming to market. This category includes devices and apps that aid drug delivery and adherence in tandem with the drug for efficiency.
MiniMed 670G, Medtronic MiniMed, Inc.
An estimated 1.25 million Americans live with type 1 diabetes, pushing companies to create “artificial pancreases.” An artificial pancreas is a technology currently in development to aid diabetics in controlling blood glucose levels automatically, providing the substitute endocrine functionality of a healthy pancreas. Those in healthcare prefer the term “hybrid closed-loop artificial pancreas systems,” because the system doesn’t act solely as a pancreas; it requires intermittent intervention from patients during mealtimes, exercise, and for occasional calibration.
Every five minutes, the MiniMed 670G closed-looped system-available for type 1 diabetes sufferers 14 years of age and older -constantly adjusts the amount of basal insulin that is delivered to patients. The device adjusts insulin based on the patient’s specific needs and level of activity. The automated basal insulin delivery decreases the level of patient interaction needed, enhancing quality of life and easing the burden patients experience with the constant management of blood sugar levels, both during the day and at night. The tool is especially helpful for the lows that cannot be detected while sleeping.