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Motivation is a great tool, but its effectiveness tends to wane over time. In the health and wellness sector, it might spur improved clinical outcomes for a while, but those outcomes tail off as people lose interest or ambition.
Maintaining that level of interest is the driving force behind Healthrageous, a Boston-based mHealth company spun two years ago out of Partners Healthcare's Center for Connected Health. The company's goal is to support "individual journeys to prevent and self-manage chronic health conditions via the web and a mobile app. It achieves superior engagement through its proprietary platform that incorporates personalized goal setting, health journey maps with gaming dynamics, timely biometric feedback and interactive digital coaching. The digital coach leverages multiple tools such as inspirational messages, recognition and incentives, challenges, social networking, trackers and reminders, and interactive educational content."
In a new tactic of sorts, Healthrageous recently announced a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, a German pharmaceutical firm, to launch a pilot program targeting lifestyle and behavior modification changes for those suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Often referred to as being in a near-epidemic stage, type 2 diabetes is often called adult-onset diabetes, because it typically shows up later in life and is tied to lifestyle problems, such as a bad diet, lack of exercise and obesity. As such, it's an ideal target for Healthrageous and BI, says Healthrageous President and CEO Rick Lee.
"We're looking to find the source of inspiration that could make the difference," says Lee, whose company met with several pharma companies over the past few years before settling on BI to forge its first pharma-based partnership. "Motivated patients are probably the exception, rather than the rule. We need to find the right combination of (technology and personalized coaching) that will make the lightbulb go on."
Lee says the six-month study will look to tie in "machine-learning technology" with personalized coaching. Among the tools at its disposal is Telcare's BGM wireless blood glucose monitor. Healthrageous and Telcare announced a deal earlier this year to add the monitor to the Healthrageous Personal Health Improvement Platform.
According to the press release, through the study, adults employed by a self-insured employer in the United States and diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for at least six months will have access to Healthrageous’ digital diabetes self-management program. "The web- and smartphone-delivered program will include a personalized action plan with health behavior improvement goals, biometric feedback to demonstrate goal achievement and milestones, digital coach interaction, recognition and incentives for progress, supply and strip refill ordering, capturing HEDIS measures, medication reminders and social networking support," the release stated.
The emphasis is on personalization, Lee says. A patient has to have a personal interest in the project and its outcome to continue. "In healthcare it's a one-size-fits-all (landscape) that really doesn't fit anyone," he says.
"Too often when someone (has failed to follow a program), they say it's the diet that has failed them, not that they've failed," he says. "That's hard to overcome."
According to Lee, the partnership with BI marks a unique opportunity for both companies. Pharma "seems to be very interested in" health and wellness tools, he says, because they're being squeezed by generic medications and need to find some means of preserving and improving medication adherence and loyalty. 'What they're looking for is a lifestyle wrap-around," he says. "They want to develop programs that understand that more than just the drug is part of the solution."
Lee says studies focused on patients with high blood pressure have shown a marked decrease – as much as 33 percent – in clinical improvement once the three-month point is reached in a medication adherence program. While much of that can be tied to the patient losing interest, he says, a long-lasting program should also look at connecting with the doctor.
"If the doctor is paying attention, that's more motivation for the patient," he says.
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