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Healthcare Wakes Up to the Value of mHealth and Sleep

Kaiser Permanente and Royal Philips are the latest to use mHealth platforms for sleep therapy, targeting everything from obstructive sleep apnea to PTSD.

By Eric Wicklund

- Healthcare providers are taking a closer look at remote monitoring and mobile coaching to help consumers get a good night’s sleep.

A recent Kaiser Permanente study found that patients with obstructive sleep apnea who use an mHealth-enabled CPAP platform improved their adherence by more than 20 percent. Royal Philips, meanwhile, has been showcasing its DreamMapper app and software platform as a means of helping patients with OSA and post-traumatic stress disorder manage their therapy at home.

The Kaiser Permanente study was unveiled during this month’s Associated Professional Sleep Societies’ annual SLEEP Meeting in Denver, which drew more than 5,000 sleep medicine experts.  

And it’s part of a busy six months for advocates of mHealth in sleep therapy, following the January launch of a telehealth platform by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the March announcement at HIMSS16 of a comprehensive sleep study on the Apple ResearchKit platform by the American Sleep Apnea Association and IBM Watson Health.

The Kaiser Permanente study focused on almost 1,500 patients referred to the Kaiser Permanente Fontana Sleep Center for suspected OSA. A percentage of those patients were evaluated with AirSense CPAP machines with built-in cellular communications and a U-Sleep mobile coaching platform designed by ResMed to help clinicians manage large populations.

The study found that mHealth tools improved a patient’s adherence to CPAP therapy by 21 percent over three months.

“Anything that significantly increases CPAP use in the first 90 days is a big deal,” Dennis Hwang, MD, a sleep specialist at Kaiser Permanente’s Fontana Medical Center and the study’s principal investigator, said in a press release. “That initial period is crucial for patients to embrace CPAP to treat their sleep apnea, which is linked to heart failure, atrial fibrillation, type 2 diabetes and other serious conditions. Tools like U-Sleep hold a lot of promise for patients on CPAP and the clinicians who treat them.”

“This study is further proof of the dramatic impact remote monitoring, automated coaching and other digital health technologies have on patients’ health,” added Raj Sodhi, ResMed’s president of healthcare informatics. “These results show great promise for the role that remote monitoring and coaching can play in helping treat a range of chronic diseases.”

Philips, meanwhile, sees mHealth as a means of helping not only OSA patients, but the one in six U.S. veterans suffering from PTSD. The DreamMapper app and platform is part of the company’s Dream Family suite of sleep therapy technology solutions, designed to help clinicians collaborate with patients at home, rather than in a clinic or hospital.

“From restless nights to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), sleep disorders of varying degrees have become a common occurrence across many patient and consumer populations,” Mark Aloia, MD, senior director of Global Clinical Research for Philips Respironics, says. “With so many options in sleep therapy, technology can now offer solutions to help monitor and support healthy sleep.”

Aloia says DreamMapper wasn’t specifically designed for veterans with PTSD, but mHealth platforms designed for one condition can often be adapted to treat other health concerns.

“PTSD veterans are often afflicted with recurring nightmares and difficulty sleeping, so it’s not uncommon for more serious sleep disorders to develop and exacerbate existing symptoms of PTSD,” Aloia says. “A recent study showed that, among patients with PTSD, more than half have been diagnosed with OSA with significantly lower adherence rate to CPAP therapy than the average patient. DreamMapper can help them adhere to their treatment, which can have profound effects on reducing symptoms of PTSD.”

“A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine suggested that a mere 10 percent increase in adherence to CPAP almost doubled the odds of decreasing nightmares associated with PTSD,” he adds. “Ultimately, if you sleep well (uninterrupted by your apnea) you have better outcomes. DreamMapper can help people with PTSD and OSA accomplish better sleep by improving adherence to treatment.”

Dig Deeper:

mHealth Put to Work on the Science of Sleep

Turning to Telehealth For a Good Night’s Sleep


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