The mHealth platform is currently used in three pilot programs and 15 sample cases worldwide in a wide variety of health areas including multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, diabetes, dengue, oral cancer, Chagas disease, plastic surgery, weight management, as well as narcotic use and domestic violence intervention programs.
A third of the global population has latent tuberculosis and 95 percent of TB deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, according to data provided by the World Health Organization. Cases of multi-drug resistant TB can be found in almost all countries, complicating efforts to eradicate the curable and preventable disease.
Resources of governments and health care agencies are strained and they need all the help they can get, including the use of new technologies to fight TB more effectively. The potential of mHealth platforms to help efforts to curb major public health outbreaks is considered huge in terms of practicality and effectiveness.
One startup, emocha, aims to become one practical solution as it tests its mobile health platform across 10 countries in four continents to assist healthcare workers monitor patients and promote adherence to treatment.
Featured recently and awarded with $50,000 seed funding in the DreamIt Health Baltimore healthtech accelerator program, emocha is seeking a new round of investment this summer to support its nascent projects.
Sebastian Seiguer, JD, MBA, chief executive officer and co-founder of emocha, said during a demo-day presentation that the company has secured three pilots and seven deals, and committed more than $600,000 in revenue, since the program’s kickoff in January.
Describing itself as a “mobile health platform for remote patient management,” emocha is helping care providers in mobile data capture, multimedia educational training and health campaigns, and wireless communication.
Its website says that the platform is HIPAA-compliant and was designed by leading medical and health experts.
First developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Clinical Global Health Education in 2008 to educate health workers treating HIV patients in Uganda, emocha is also capable of monitoring and enhancing health campaigns not only against TB but also other high-profile conditions such as dengue, oral cancer, Chagas disease, diabetes, plastic surgery, weight management, narcotic use intervention, and domestic violence intervention.
In South Africa, 2,500 primary care clinics and more than 10,000 healthcare personnel is using the platform to provide TB treatment. Specifically, health care workers can send alerts and notifications to track down cases of multi-drug resistant TB so that treatment can start earlier, mitigating outbreaks.
In India, emocha is used by health workers to scan and collect sputum samples, register patients, and monitor their adherence to treatment regimen. Throughout North and South America, emocha is used as an educational tool for providers taking care of TB patients who are provided access to a multimedia library about TB, as well as an interactive symptom checker based on WHO guidelines.
The corresponding app called “eMOCHA TB Detect” is available for free for downloading to Android-run devices, the WHO said in a news release.
In Baltimore, Maryland where it is based, emocha is used by patients to record themselves taking medications as part of the Directly Observed Therapy (DOT) standard in TB management. It is also used in two other separate studies as an SMS platform to encourage patients to lose weight and quit smoking.
Referring to tuberculosis, The Lancet reported in December 2012 that, “In the Middle East, the prevalence rate of the disease was as low as 6.2 per 100,000 people in 2010 in the United Arab Emirates” while “the prevalence has been stable since 1990 in Saudi Arabia, at 23 per 100,000 people.”
However, new cases of tuberculosis are being detected from incoming expatriates. With many economies in the Middle East dependent on a large number of foreign workers coming from countries where TB is widespread, there continues to be a need for strong TB control and treatment programs. Various mHealth platforms can be used in such programs for disease surveillance and to promote adherence to treatment.