(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
emocha mobile health is turning its technology toward the nation’s growing opioid crisis.
Providing a way for medical staff to remotely observe patients taking required medication can help people battling addiction stay in treatment, said CEO Sebastian Seiguer.
Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Boston Medical Center are set to test the startup’s miDOT platform on patients undergoing treatment for heroin and opioid addiction with buprenorphine, Seiguer said.
emocha received a $1.7 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to complete the research studies ahead of its commercial release. The technology will be used in clinic-based treatment, with observation of take-home being a next step. The grant will help the startup validate the platform’s use in a new treatment area.
“In addition to selling the technology and putting it into the market, we want the best clinicians and researchers in the country to better understand how it can be made more effective and also getting solid data on how effective it really is,” Seiguer said in an interview.
emocha’s technology allows medical staff to observe patients take every dose of the drug via video. The practice of directly observed therapy helps medical staff track whether or not patients are taking their medication, but it takes a lot of resources since patients have daily doses. Completing the observation remotely can help reduce the amount of resources required.
Seiguer said that’s important for buprenorphine treatment. DOT is not required, and research shows half of patients do not stick with treatment. Methadone treatment, which requires DOT, sees more patients retained.
emocha’s platform is also being used to observe patients undergoing treatment for tuberculosis and Hepatitis C. Seiguer said the opioid treatment runs on a similar platform, and that latest product is already built.
The company’s 11-member team moved into Johns Hopkins’ recently-opened Fast Forward 1812 earlier this year. With the new funding, Seiguer said the company is looking to make engineering hires and expand its sales team in the coming months.
After we spoke on Thursday, the company picked up the award in Health IT at the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year Awards.