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Connecting patients to doctors

Published on 30/04/18 at 10:51am

Dan Vahdat, CEO and Co-founder of Medopad, discusses the rapid expansion of the app he helped develop, as its mobile health benefits saw it grow swiftly across different therapeutic areas and even continents.

Could you provide an overview of what the platform offers?

The main thing that we are aiming to achieve with our platform is helping hospitals to keep patients, as much as is possible, outside of the hospital, but also to take a more proactive approach, in terms of living with chronic conditions. Also, to be more specific around complications; people don’t die in hospitals because of their disease – it’s often a result of a complication of their disease that people enter bad scenarios. That’s where we play a role – we bring patients’ data and information, in real time, to the hospitals and we help them manage the large amount of data that is involved.

How did your partnerships in other areas come about?

The way we got involved with other stakeholders was a slow process – it didn’t happen overnight. We were initially focused on helping hospitals to cope with managing expensive and complex treatment. We used to work directly with leading clinicians and heads of department, but slowly other departments and areas took an interest in what we did; they started asking whether they could have versions for certain treatments and slowly we started growing to provide our app to most of London’s teaching hospitals.

On the back of working with the top teaching hospitals in the world, we started getting interest from the pharmaceutical companies who realised that it could be a really interesting tool for them to be able to improve adherence to the treatments that they provide – so the outcome of the treatment is good for the patient, good for the hospital and its good for the company. We started working with Actelion, Johnson & Johnson and then that expanded to the point where we work with every major pharma company in the world. From there, we had interest from the US and started working with John Hopkins Hospital, alongside other major teaching hospitals in the US. We’ve expanded into China and even now national governments, such as Singapore.

What’s the primary appeal of the app for the healthcare and pharma industry?

The way it has been developed is that the app has different modules according to different patients groups – cardiovascular, oncology and so on. Once we reached 20 different modules, we started needing to cover many other therapeutic areas, so we didn’t need to create entirely new modules for each one and could just expand, more or less like Lego. Now, in a matter of hours or days, we can configure a new solution around a new treatment or condition – that’s why hospitals or pharma like us because we can cover 80% of the needs they might have in mobile health initiatives.

That is one part. A second part is because we’re quite modular and cover a lot of diseases. For pharma and hospitals, it’s rarely about one condition or one treatment; having a platform that can support patients with multiple diseases is quite appealing. This is the reason we’re getting a lot of traction.

How do the patients benefit from the app?

The way it works for the patient is that when we work with a specific department of a hospital or a pharma company around one indication, we can figure the solution to what they want. We have scenarios where there are two hospitals that are close to each other, but they may have a different configuration. Our platform allows for efficient configuration about what that clinical team really needs or helps them. When the hospitals start prescribing the app to the patient, it generates a code and as soon as the patient downloads the app and then inputs that code, the app changes automatically to all the modules that fit for that cohort of patients. It also allows the patient to then connect to their care providers, whether that be their nursing team or their hospital doctor. With one app, it takes care of everything from the patient side; it allows the patient to connect to everyone that they need to be in contact with. The most important thing we hear from patients is that they feel confident and more secure that they have this connectivity, knowing that the clinical teams have more information.

It’s a little bit of a bizarre concept because you have the most expensive care given to patients with chronic conditions and you have a lot of information about them when they’re in the hospital. However, as soon as they’re not in the hospital, which is 90% of the time, you, as a clinical team, have zero visibility. It is quite frustrating for both sides. It’s like when you’re driving through a new city: if you don’t have a Sat Nav then you feel quite lost – our app is like a Sat Nav for people with medical conditions.

How does the app aid in patient adherence to medication?

The biggest challenge facing patients is that there are so many things happening and then there are so many medicines that they have to remember. They have maybe twenty different medications to take – even a healthy person would forget to take some. It’s like having 20 meetings in one day but you don’t have a calendar to remind you when they are. This is why a medication tracker is so useful: it can remind them on the different drugs they need to take at different times; it can tell them what the side-effects of the drugs are, what the instructions are and what you need to consider. It’s not only about reminding the patient but also educating them.

What does the future of m-Health apps look like and what further challenges are there to overcome?

I think the most exciting part for us, because we’ve been quite lucky to get involved in a lot of different therapeutic areas, is helping clinical teams to achieve good data flow and, ultimately, help them to make the best decisions. Our vision for the future of mobile health is helping healthcare providers detect and avoid complications for patients, and this is where you need technology to help; you can’t expect nurses and doctors to be constantly on top of all the data that are being generated by patients, and then come out with new suggestions or to intervene. We’ve partnered with academia to see how we can add more intelligence to our mobile health offerings and to automatically help clinical teams.

One of the challenges is to validate our claims – we need to prove that these apps work in the way that we would like. This is a process that we are undergoing through our partnerships, and we feel companies should be responsible for the claims that they make. If we can prove these things independently and in respected journals, on how these technologies can really add value in terms of predicting health outcomes, then I think that would be the future.

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