Developer says COPD app could cut admissions by 40 percent

By: Jonah Comstock | Aug 19, 2013        

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smartscope futura mhealthFutura mHealth, a Philadelphia-based joint venture from Futura Mobility and HGE Healthcare Solutions, a Temple University spin off company, has developed an app the company says can reduce hospital admissions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) by 38 to 40 percent.

A chronic lung condition, COPD manifests itself as occasional attacks of extreme shortness of breath, called exacerbations, which usually lead to a patient being hospitalized, as well as losing an average of three years of life expectancy per attack, according to Futura mHealth CEO David Gulian. But those attacks can be detected up to seven days beforehand and prevented with early treatment.

SmartScope is an HTML5 app that has COPD patients fill out an eight-question survey once a day and sends that information back to their provider, who then assesses their likelihood of an attack based on their answers. Certain questions require the patient to use devices like a peak-flow meter or a thermometer. Gulian said Bluetooth-enabled devices can take the measurements and put them in the app, but the devices are too expensive for most patients, so most use non-connected devices instead and enter data manually.

The questionnaire and scoring system were developed by Temple University’s Dr. Gerard Criner, who has actually been using some version of the system with patients at Temple University Hospital since 2006. It began as a website, moved to the Palm Pilot, and launched as a smartphone application a year ago. Gulian said that in that time they’ve achieved around 90 percent compliance with the app.

Futura mHealth currently has two iterations of the app. One, which collects data and sends it to physicians, is registered as a Class I device by the FDA. The other, which includes some data analysis, requires Class II clearance, which the company said it anticipates receiving by the end of the year. It can use both technologies within Temple University under a research exemption, Gulian said.

Gulian said Futura is in talks with two large hospitals about implementing the technology once it’s cleared. He said the recent Medicare penalties for hospitals failing to reduce readmissions were increasing demand for an app like SmartScope, especially since next year readmissions for COPD patients will be evaluated separately under the Affordable Care Act. He also said the next step is to adapt the app for congestive heart failure (CHF) and, later, diabetes.

The app is similar to a COPD pilot co-launched by AstraZeneca and Exco InTouch in the UK in March. At the time, Exco InTouch said it would likely bring the technology to the US at some point.