emocha’s Mobile Technology Helps Providers Fight TB in U.S. and Abroad
March 24 2017, Baltimore, USA - Directly observed therapy (DOT), the process of watching a patient take each dose of medication in person, is the worldwide standard of TB care. While it has contributed to reduced TB rates in the U.S., it is also costly and time-intensive for providers and patients. Public health departments in the U.S. have practiced DOT since 1993, yet annual budget cuts and a retiring workforce have presented new barriers to successful TB programming. In the U.S. and abroad, implementation of DOT may not be readily feasible where financial resources are limited.
In late 2013, emocha Mobile Health commercialized technology invented by Johns Hopkins researchers, specifically to help TB programs carry out DOT more conveniently and cost-effectively. emocha enhances traditional DOT with the addition of asynchronous video, allowing patients with a smart device to report side effects and record a video of themselves taking medications from the convenience of their home. Providers then review patient data on a secure web portal. Once a novel concept in TB, video DOT is now widely accepted around the U.S.
Asynchronous video DOT expands with proven results
To date, public health departments in California, Maryland, Texas, Missouri, Washington, Rhode Island and Puerto Rico have adopted the video DOT platform for active and latent TB monitoring. Sites in Australia, Mexico, and India have also implemented the technology, proving that video DOT is also an effective strategy for combating global TB.
Preliminary results from an ongoing, NIH-funded study have shown that emocha's platform provides health departments with substantial cost savings, while securing comparable rates of adherence. More findings will be presented at the National TB Controllers Association annual conference in Atlanta this April with additional results expected in late 2017.
emocha has demonstrated that asynchronous video DOT preserves the power of human observation that is crucial to successful, in-person DOT. It provides channels for patient engagement, allowing providers to dedicate resources to patients requiring greater attention while saving costs in the process.
Honoring World TB Day with partnerships worldwide
With positive feedback from patients and providers, emocha continues to expand globally and implement video DOT in diverse settings. In late 2016, Puerto Rico adopted the technology in the face of a budget crisis and slashed public health funding and preliminary results have been promising. Established studies in India and a pilot in Juarez, Mexico are also indicative of global acceptance. The list of challenges to TB care is exhaustive, and emocha is contributing to the greater fight against TB by promoting medication adherence, providing tools for remote care, and increasing the capacity of providers worldwide.