News Feature | May 8, 2014

John Hopkins Develops Remote Patient Management Tool

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Remote Patient Management Tool

New tool combines video, email, and texts to improve patient care.

According to MedCityNews, what was created as a Johns Hopkins Hospital training program for healthcare workers in treating HIV in Uganda has evolved into a multimedia platform for adherence, clinical trials, and chronic diseases rolled into a healthcare startup, Emocha. In a presentation at DreamIt Health Baltimore’s demo day, CEO Sebastian Seiguer talked about the company’s origins at Johns Hopkins University Hospital and its relevance for both developing and industrialized countries.

A World Health Organization release describes the program as a free app available for smartphones and tablets using Android that includes interactive screening algorithms based on current World Health Organization guidelines. It also includes multimedia lectures from experts in prevention and care, as well as other educational tools for healthcare providers.  Although the program initially focused on TB, the application is being expanded to encompass other significant health conditions such as diabetes and oral cancer.

The Emocha website explains that the app is designed to efficiently coordinate and accomplish five key steps for any clinical training program:

  • To use clinical data collected from the point-of-care, to identify which health care workers in the community need to be trained.
  • To analyze the clinical data, to identify the most critical knowledge or skill they need.
  • To create and efficiently deliver high-quality training content to target these specific training needs.
  • To evaluate the impact of this training, based on data collected directly from the field, to ensure that provider knowledge and skills improve and result in better health for their patients.
  • To empower the providers in their communities, at the point-of-care, with the tools to monitor and improve their own clinical care practice.

The connected care platform has particular application in combatting tuberculosis. In 1995, the World Health Organization implemented the requirement of directly observed therapy, meaning that all TB patients must be observed taking their medication by a medical professional. About 10,000 people were diagnosed with TB in the U.S. in 2012. The telemedicine component of the app was developed to eliminate the need for patients to visit a healthcare facility every day. It provides a countdown so users know when their doses are due and it allows them to film their treatment and transmit it directly to their physicians.

Currently, Emocha is working with the South African government to roll out its mobile health platform to healthcare workers at patient clinics to combat drug resistant tuberculosis. It is also working with the National Institutes of Health on pilots that focus on adherence once patients are discharged. In addition to TB, other conditions supported by its app include smoking cessation, weight management and diabetes.