Kings County, California, Revamps Decades-Old Therapy Standards for Patients With Tuberculosis

Kings County Health Department is modernizing treatment for tuberculosis through asynchronous video technology

patient takes medication
Kings County Department of Public Health in CA is adopting new tech to enable patients with TB to access support and increase medication adherence.

BALTIMORE, Md. (May 30, 2019) -- emocha Mobile Health announced today that the Kings County Department of Public Health in California is adopting new technology to enable patients with tuberculosis (TB) to access support and increase medication adherence. The county will use emocha’s video Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) platform to connect public health staff members to their patients. This technology and personal engagement will empower patients with TB to take every dose of their medication throughout their treatment.

“DOT is the most successful strategy for medication adherence because of the relationship that is established between the patient and their care team,” said Sebastian Seiguer, CEO of emocha Mobile Health. “emocha preserves this relationship, and we are honored that Kings County Department of Public Health will use the platform to provide patient-centric care in their communities.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention endorses DOT as the most effective strategy to ensure medication adherence. DOT involves watching a patient take every dose of medication and is the standard of care for TB treatment in the United States. Prior to the adoption of this new technology, patients with TB in Kings County had to receive their medication via a daily visit to or through an in-home visit from the health department. Conducting their DOT visits through emocha’s asynchronous mobile app helps patients to complete their treatment more conveniently.

With emocha, patients with TB in Kings County will be eligible to use a secure mobile application on their smartphone to video record themselves taking their medication, report side effects, and receive medication reminders. They will also have access to two-way, secure messaging to communicate with their healthcare provider. Kings County healthcare workers can assess the data collected on the secure emocha web portal, engage directly with their patients, and intervene swiftly in the event of reported symptoms, side effects, or medication nonadherence.

Research illustrates that emocha’s video DOT platform saves public health resources and eases burdens for both patients and providers. Compared to in-person DOT, emocha saved public health departments an average of $1,400 per patient over a standard six-month tuberculosis regimen, according to a NIH-funded study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University. Patients using emocha also achieved 94 percent medication adherence, on average.

In 2017, approximately 9,000 TB cases were reported across the U.S. TB remains the world’s deadliest infectious disease, causing 1.6 million deaths worldwide in 2017. There were six cases of TB in Kings County in 2017 and eight total cases that required DOT, which cost the county an estimated $32,256.54.

“Using technology will enable us to provide more convenient options for people in treatment for TB,” said Edward Hill, Director of the Kings County Department of Public Health. “This solution will also save staff time and resources that would otherwise be needed to schedule and conduct daily appointments.”

The United Nations recently approved a political declaration that called for an increased use of technology to help end TB across the globe. New billing policies indicate that these types of daily interactions with patients through technology would be beneficial for patients who have conditions other than TB. For example, Medi-Cal and Medicare recently recognized new codes that reimburse providers for their time reviewing pre-recorded videos and images sent by their patients. Providers can be reimbursed for a five-minute encounter and follow-up with the patient.

About emocha Mobile Health

emocha empowers every patient to take every dose of medication through video technology and scalable human engagement. Patients use a smartphone application to video record themselves taking their medication. Providers or emocha Adherence Coaches use a secure web portal to assess adherence and engage with patients. The platform is being used by public health departments, clinical trials, hospitals, health centers, and managed care organizations to radically improve medication adherence for patients with tuberculosis, opioid use disorder, hepatitis C, diabetes, and other chronic and infectious diseases. Learn more at www.emocha.com.

National Institutes of Health Statement

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute On Minority Health And Health Disparities of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R43MD010521. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Contact: Michelle Mendes | email: mmendes@emocha.com | phone: 410.928.4016