Massachusetts General Hospital is partnering with Jana Care, a Boston-based medical technology company, to study the effectiveness of the company’s heart failure management mobile app.
The app, Heart Habits, aims to educate patients about managing their lifestyle and helps them to monitor heart failure symptoms.
The study will select 24 participants — half of whom will be given traditional educational materials about heart failure, such as brochures, while the other half will use the app to track symptoms and to learn more about heart failure, said Nasrien Ibrahim, a cardiologist at MGH who’s involved with the study.
“The app is not adding anything to what we would already ask them to do as cardiologists,” Ibrahim said. “But the add just helps us to track it, and hopefully improve adherence.”
For example, traditionally, when patients come to the clinic, physicians will give them critical information regarding medication, life style management, and how to check daily weight as well as daily diet, Ibrahim said.
However, “clinic can be overwhelming,” she said. So the goal of the app is to help patients with this information.
During the six-week study period, patients who use the app will take short lessons on heart failure, check in on their symptoms, and track information such as weight, sodium in their diet, and how much water they are drinking.
Meanwhile, clinicians can monitor the information from the app’s backend, which will also help them to analyze patients’ conditions.
If the app notices a significant change in patient’s weight, the app will also alert them that they need treatment, Ibrahim said. Patients can also communicate with the study team directly through the app, she added.
During the development of Heart Habits, Jana Care worked with cardiologists for a year to develop educational and clinical material, Veronica Chew, the chief marketing officer at Jana Care, wrote in an email.
“We are strong believers of working with clinicians and patients closely in our development process,” Chew added. “During the development process, we interviewed patients and their caregivers to incorporate their feedback into the application.”
Jana Care has previously designed apps for patients with diabetes, so the company also took feedback from these patients and clinicians while developing Heart Habits, Chew wrote.
One challenge Chew and Ibrahim both mentioned is making the app as user-friendly as possible, given that the patient demographic tends to be older.
“When we design the app, we put in a lot of effort and thought into making the app easier to use,” Chew wrote. “Larger font and text, contrasts are no brainers. We also use a checklist concept to create daily to do list for the patients.”
Patients who use the app will also receive a weighing scale with Bluetooth, so their weight will automatically be recorded on the app.
The study is expected to finish by the end of this year. Researchers will then compare the knowledge of heart failure and quality of life between those who used Heart Habits and those who didn’t.
“We hope to launch a larger study after the conclusion of the study, that could include biomarker testing, more outcome measures such as hospital readmissions/emergency visits, and even study the financial impacts of such mobile monitoring program,” Chew wrote.
Weihua Li recently graduated from Boston University with a dual degree in journalism and political science. Before joining MedTech Boston as an editorial intern, she edited the school’s independent newspaper, The Daily Free Press, and interned at WAMU and WBUR. When she is not reporting, you can find her at Boston’s newest bubble tea shop, looking for the best boba in town.
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