mHealth and Pharma: Opportunities for Patients and Industry


No greater is the opportunity for mHealth to break into mainstream healthcare than in partnerships with members of the pharmaceutical community. mHealth’s influence in the sector may be tentacle in the patient care area, the business process area, and the clinical trial arena. The worldwide distribution infrastructure, available investment capital, and need to both diversify and digitize are what create this symbiotic energy.
On the patient care front, mHealth technologies will revolutionize the way in which patients take their medications. The Smart Pill by Proteus Biomedical will hopefully soon be available in the USA. It has a system known as Helius, which consists of a microsensor on the pill which, when swallowed, sends a signal to a patch placed on the patient’s skin, which in turn sends a message to a mobile device. The system has CE Mark approval and Novartis has a licensing agreement with Proteus. Proteus is also making sensors which can be used to detect movement and sleep patterns.
Clinical trials is an active area of mutual benefit for Pharma and mHealth. There are currently studies using the remote patient monitoring capabilities of implantable cardiac rhythm devices (permanent pacemakers and implantable defibrillators) to evaluate patient’s heart rhythms during clinical trials of cardiac rhythm medications. Exco Intouch is a company which has technology providing mobile solutions for clinical trials. Patients may be recruited, followed, and avail themselves to self-reporting of adverse events via smart phones. A landmark clinical study in ALS with information gathered from crowdsourcing data from PatientsLikeMe proved that good data may arise originating from only the patients themselves. Another crowdsourced font of data is 23andMe, a genomic community which has already participated in numerous studies, albeit not pharmaceutical in nature. I am sure Pharma is watching closely. For more information regarding crowdsourced health trials, see http://www.jmir.org/2012/2/e46/. Health social networks and social media may become sources of valuable information for Pharma. Data about adherence, adverse events, patient behavior, and even outbreaks of disease is gleaned from these sites.
mHealth technologies may also facilitate processes involved in day to day business operations of Pharma. A product call Prolifiq provides a complete platform for single point of mobile access to customers and colleagues and utilizes secure, compliant technologies both legacy and other, to communicate, plan, and educate.
Pharma seems to be ahead of insurers and providers in the adoption of mHealth. Perhaps it is the history of successful direct to consumer experiences which have driven them to mHealth, another industry with hope of a significant DTC business model. I look forward to observing the fruits of this association for a long time.

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About davidleescher

David Lee Scher, MD is Director at DLS HEALTHCARE CONSULTING, LLC, which specializes in helping digital health technology companies, their partners and clients. As a former cardiac electrophysiologist and pioneer adopter of remote patient monitoring, he is uniquely qualified to address both clinical and operational concerns of clients. Scher was Chair of Happtique's Blue Ribbon Panel which established standards for certification of medical apps in the categories of safety, operability, privacy, and content. He is a well-respected expert in mobile and other digital health technologies and lectures worldwide on technology and its impact on patients and healthcare systems.
This entry was posted in clinical trials, digital health, healthcare economics, Healthcare IT, informatics, mHealth, mobile health, pharma, smartphone apps, wireless health and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to mHealth and Pharma: Opportunities for Patients and Industry

  1. Pingback: Adoption of mHealth: Can we see the Forest through the Trees? | The Digital Health Corner

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