WSJ - How Apps Can Help Manage Chronic Diseases (feat. HGE Health)


By Laura Landro

June 25, 2017 10:12 p.m. ET    complete article on WSJ [paywall]

Technology is offering a new fix for one of the most confounding health-care challenges: getting patients with chronic disease to take better care of themselves.

About half of all adults suffer from one or more chronic diseases, which account for seven of 10 deaths and 86% of U.S. health-care costs. But preventing and treating such ailments requires time that doctors don’t have in brief office visits, and a degree of daily self-management that many patients have been unable to handle. They often become overwhelmed by the demands of their daily regimens, slip back into poor health habits, fail to take their medications correctly—and end up in the emergency room.

A growing number of hospitals are adopting digital programs that can be delivered on a broad scale at low cost with the use of smartphones, wireless devices and sensors.

While there has been something of a national obsession with health apps like fitness trackers, most are aimed at exercise and lifestyle buffs and aren’t designed to link patients to health-care providers. There is generally no evidence to back their use in improving health outcomes for those who have chronic disease unless the patients’ own doctors are involved.

New studies, however, show that the emerging field of digital medicine—a combination of remote monitoring, behavior modification and personalized intervention overseen by the patients’ own doctors—can improve outcomes in some of the most costly and tough-to-manage categories such as diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. As a result, a growing number of hospitals and health systems are adopting digital programs that have been studied in clinical trials and can be delivered on a broad scale at low cost with the use of smartphones, wireless devices and sensors.

... complete article on WSJ [paywall] ...

Pulmonary disease: Holding back the symptoms

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, affects an estimated 30 million Americans and encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Commonly associated with smoking, it causes increasing difficulty with breathing, and exacerbations can lead to repeated trips to the ER and hospitalizations if not treated in a timely manner with medication. Patients may fail to recognize that symptoms are getting into the danger zone, leading to delays in treatment.

Temple University’s HGE Health in Philadelphia has developed a health application called COPD Co-Pilot. Once daily, patients use a smartphone to report symptoms including breathlessness, cough, wheeze and sore throat on eight easy-to-read screens, and use hand-held meters to measure the air flowing in and out of their lungs. Those who don’t report in by noon get a reminder from the system.

A computer algorithm helps measure how serious the symptoms are compared with the patient’s baseline data; nurses review the scores and refer patients who appear to need immediate treatment to doctors who can prescribe same-day therapy. There are different treatment plans for less urgent scenarios, which nurses can recommend after review with a doctor, and communicate via text or email back to patients who can respond that they will comply or that they may need something else.

complete article on WSJ [paywall]