John Moore, winner of the MedTech Boston Primary Care Innovation award and co-founder and CEO of Twine Health, challenges the traditional patient-clinician relationship every day through his collaborative technology work.
Moore began his studies at Boston University as a biomedical engineer. From there, he went on to medical school and then residency at Johns Hopkins. But, by the time he was in residency, he began to feel frustrated about the kind of care he was delivering. He believed he could deliver a different kind of care outside the clinic, so he switched career paths, hoping to build technology that would help patients in the real world.
That dream became a reality when he started working at the MIT Media Lab seven years ago, which provided a unique space for him to pursue his research and turn ideas into real-life applications. At the time, Moore was the only person with expertise in the medical field, but he loved studying the interaction between people and technology. While in the lab, he collaborated with specialists in education, human-computer interaction, online learning, and design.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to be around this wealth of expertise,” Moore says. “Patients are the most underutilized resource in healthcare, and they have a huge stake in the game.”
Later, after several years of learning in the lab, Moore co-founded the award-winning Twine Health application. As Moore explained at the 2014 Primary Care Challenge live pitch-off, Twine uses technology to bring collaborative care through a cloud-based software platform. When using Twine, physicians and patients work together when the patient needs it, breaking free from the traditional constraints of office visits. Moore says this works because most patients don’t experience health issues at scheduled intervals.
Twine allows patients and clinicians to create shared goals and plans, which are uploaded into an app that can be used on any kind of tablet or mobile device. These goals have concrete expectations and timelines, but are personalized to each patient. Doctors can follow their patients’ progress toward goals through the Twine platform, checking in as needed. This approach differs from other systems that expect patients to conform to rigid protocols or use artificial intelligence techniques to assign the best plan to the patient, Moore says.
The shift from the MIT Media Lab to Twine was a pretty smooth one, according to Moore. During his residency, the ideas behind Twine began to percolate. He worked with patients with chronic diseases like diabetes and glaucoma. He wanted to push traditional clinical boundaries to see how communication could occur outside the office. This began with coding some software in the evenings, and led to a realization that he could have a bigger contribution in medicine. At the time, the idea of collaboration outside the office was too early to market – this was before the iPhone and Cloud were invented. But, six years later, he’s made the leap.
Through Twine, Moore hopes to dramatically change and improve the way patients and clinicians collaborate, breaking free from the concept of scheduled interactions. “We want to help patients manage their goals and plans with clinicians helping them approach it from the other side,” Moore says. “We are not the solution that solves medical problems, but we are tool that allows people to work together in new and important ways.”
Moore also believes strongly in the power of patient-doctor collaboration to help build new solutions. “I’m no longer practicing medicine, but I’m still heavily connected,” he says. “I get a lot of gratification from seeing patients more engaged and involved with their health.”
Soniya Shah is an on-staff contributing writer at MedTech Boston. She's a senior at Carnegie Mellon University pursuing a BS in technical writing. She has experience as a ghost writer and medical writer, and in developing software documentation.
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