News Feature | November 3, 2014

Health App Leveraged To Tackle TB

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Some Apps Better Than Others At Promoting Well-Being

Baltimore health department begins new TB trial using emocha app to manage spread of infection.

Baltimore City is piloting a program with emocha Mobile Health Inc. to try and better manage the outbreak of tuberculosis in the city. According to the Baltimore Business Journal, the new initiative will use emocha’s medication adherence application in a trial of tuberculosis patients.

The Centers for Disease Control notes approximately one-third of the world’s population is infected with TB. In 2013, that meant nine million people contracted the disease, with an estimated 1.5 million TB-related deaths worldwide. TB is also a leading cause of death among HIV-patients.

In 2013, Maryland reported 176 cases of tuberculosis or 3 per 100,000 people, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics, a rate that was 13th in the country. Alaska led the nation with 9.7 cases per 100,000 people, though only 71 cases were reported in 2013. Among the 50 states and District of Columbia, Wyoming was the only jurisdiction without a tuberculosis diagnosis last year, according to the CDC report.

emocha lays out a scenario in which a child contracted TB, a highly contagious bacterial infection for which the typical U.S. standard requires Direct Observed Therapy (DOT). This means every time a patient must take his medication, it must be directly observed by a clinician. This practice is designed to ensure proper dosage and to reduce change of transmission of the disease to new patients. In this particular case, DOT was not possible, since the child’s mother could not leave work to take her child to the clinic every day.

In stepped emocha, with their patient adherence application to provide a viable solution. Using the app, the patient is able to satisfy the Maryland DOT standard using an easy-to-use self-video application on her smartphone, while also capturing daily clinical assessments. The app replaces the need for DOT with a new procedure, called miDOT, or mobile indirect observational therapy.

How it works
The patient’s mother downloaded the emocha miDOT application onto her smartphone and began to video her child taking medication while entering any symptoms which may be present. Via secure upload, video is then transmitted to the emocha Health Information System, where the clinician accesses for data for review. miDOT effectively improves medication adherence and efficiently links patients to care.

Emocha officials said the app makes it easier for patients to comply with their medication regimen and the DOT regulations, while also reducing the financial burden on health departments of making clinicians available for the in-person verifications.

Emocha’s mobile health management platform can be used for a variety of “remote patient management” applications, company officials said. The platform has been implemented in nearly a dozen countries, according to the company.

“We believe that the miDOT app will increase the health department’s capacity to provide quality care for TB patients while freeing up clinician time for other critical TB control activities,” said Dr. Patrick Chaulk, the department’s acting deputy commissioner for communicable disease, according to BioHealth Innovation. “emocha’s miDOT has gained traction nationally and internationally for a simple reason,” emocha CEO Sebastian Seiguer said. “It solves a major problem for patients and clinicians.”