BALTIMORE, MD (August 29, 2018) -- emocha Mobile Health, a Baltimore-based company whose video-based technology helps people take their medications as directed, has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award from the National Institute On Minority Health And Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award gives emocha an additional $1 million over two years to evaluate its medication adherence platform for patients with tuberculosis (TB) in several sites throughout the United States. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will conduct the evaluation.
“We value conducting rigorous scientific research to measure the impact of our technology and are honored to be able to do so through this NIH mechanism,” said Sebastian Seiguer, CEO of emocha Mobile Health. “Healthcare is seeing a technological revolution, but few concepts take the time to validate their technology’s impact in a serious, independent manner. Clinical validation is critical in this industry, and we have multiple publications, including those published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Johns Hopkins, and our customers, demonstrating the efficacy of emocha’s platform.”
This award builds on a study conducted in Maryland by researchers at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that found emocha’s video Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) platform helped patients with tuberculosis achieve 94 percent medication adherence with the potential to save public health programs $1,391 per patient on average. The study, also funded by NIMHD, was published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse also recently approved emocha’s plan to begin a second phase of research to evaluate its medication adherence platform for patients receiving buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder in partnership with the University of Washington (UW) School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center. With the addition of this grant, emocha has been awarded more than $3 million in non-dilutive funding from the NIH since 2015.
In addition to the NIH awards, emocha’s technology is being evaluated across several diseases -- including other infectious and chronic conditions -- in multiple clinical trials and studies.
Health departments across the U.S. are responsible for treating patients with TB. The disease is highly contagious and costly if not contained, so it is imperative that every dose of medication is taken to prevent its spread and drug resistance. To help ensure high medication adherence, patients take every dose of medication to treat TB in front of a healthcare provider, a practice known as DOT.
emocha uses mobile technology to remove the logistical burdens associated with in-person DOT. Patients use emocha’s mobile app to video record themselves taking their medication. Using a web portal, the patient’s care team or emocha Adherence Coaches review the video, confirm medication ingestion, and engage with the patient. emocha’s video DOT platform is asynchronous, meaning that DOT could take place at times convenient for both patient and provider without the costs associated with traveling or scheduling appointments.
In the United States, TB is a disease that disproportionately affects people who can be difficult to reach with standard care. Foreign-born individuals, including refugees and asylees, currently represent the majority (65 percent) of new cases of active TB reported in the U.S. Additionally, people who live in poverty, experience homelessness, are also diagnosed with HIV, live in an institutional settings such as jails or prisons, and people of color make up more than half of all U.S.-born cases of TB. As such, there are significant health disparities associated with TB in the U.S.
“It is critical for patients to take tuberculosis medication as prescribed, and research supports new adherence strategies such as mobile health tools to ensure clinically-effective and patient-centric treatment,” said Robert C. Bollinger, M.D., M.P.H., an inventor of emocha’s technology and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with joint appointments in Johns Hopkins’ schools of public health and nursing.
The study will include 90 patients with latent and active TB. Among the study aims, researchers will evaluate the proportion of patients who complete treatment using the application and the cost effectiveness of the platform.
emocha leverages technology licensed from Johns Hopkins University that delivers video directly observed therapy (DOT) to help people stay adherent to medication. Patients use a smartphone application to record videos of themselves taking each dose of medication and report any associated side effects. Providers assess patient data using a secure web portal and contact patients as needed. The platform is being used in public health departments, clinical trials, opioid use disorder treatment programs, hospitals, and managed care organizations to achieve high adherence rates and retain patients in care. 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 R44MD010521 and by the National Institute On Drug Abuse of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44DA044053. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.