- Two mHealth companies are joining forces to help cystic fibrosis patients and their caregivers.
Chicago-based Hill-Rom Holdings has integrated its VisiVest System, a vest designed to help CF patients with airway clearance, to Qualcomm Life’s 2net Hub. The platform enables CF patients and their care team to chart treatment trends and tailor individual care management plans.
"What I like most about the VisiVest System is being able to see my patients' session data and trends," Tom Newton, a pulmonary therapist at Long Beach, Calif.-based Miller Children's Hospital, said in a press release. "Now I'm not just telling my patients the more adherent they are to their therapy, the higher their pulmonary function numbers are likely to be. We can actually look at their adherence score together and have a more comprehensive conversation about their numbers."
Miller Children’s Hospital was one of seven cystic fibrosis clinics around the country to use the VisiVest in a pilot program involving some 160 patients. The vest provides airway clearance for CF patients by inflating and deflating quickly, applying pressure to the chest wall and loosening and dislodging mucus from the bronchial walls. If not cleared properly, those secretions can lead to respiratory infection, reduced lung function and hospitalization.
Data collected by the VisiVest is transmitted via the 2net Hub to the VisiView Health Portal, developed by Razorfish, where it can be viewed by both patients and providers.
"In healthcare, the ability to make decisions based on accurate, timely information is essential," Alton Shader, president of Front Line Care at Hill-Rom, said in a release. "The VisiVest System and Qualcomm Life's 2net connectivity solution bring care teams and patients closer, helping to better manage patients' illness and improve their quality of life."
The announcement continues a trend of connected remote patient monitoring devices targeting specific chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart failure, COPD and CF. These devices collect and send data back to the caregiver, so that treatments can be analyzed and modified. They can also spot trends, enabling caregivers to intervene if the patient is trending toward a health concern.
Qualcomm Life’s 2net Hub is unique in that it collects and send data back to the caregiver without any intervention from the patient. Officials say that process enables the care team to see medical-grade data, which is more reliable than data sent back by the patient.
mHealth advocates say the next evolution in RPM will be the introduction of predictive analytics and machine-learning tools, which will take data collected by home-based monitors and map out health concerns before they occur. That platform could also be used to push reminders and educational resources to patients to help them before they trend in the wrong direction.
One of the leaders in that movement is IBM’s Watson Health division. At the recent American Diabetes Association’s 76th Scientific Sessions in New Orleans, IBM and Medtronic announced the launch of a new SugarWise app, which pulls in data collected from a diabetic user’s mobile devices and, using Waston’s machine learning technology, explains how their behavior and actions affect their blood glucose level in real time.
In other cases, mHealth companies are taking data from inhalers, combining that with weather data and activity and diet information supplied by the user, and identifying potentially troublesome times for people with COPD and asthma.