(Photo by Stephen Babcock)
In growing a health-focused startup, Sebastian Seiguer sees the need to keep using technology in new places, as well as validate the results of the work that’s already being done.
That picture comes into focus via a recent grant from the National Institutes of Health that was awarded to emocha Mobile Health, where he is a cofounder and CEO. The $1 million Small Business Innovation Research grant was awarded by NIH’s National Institute On Minority Health And Health Disparities.
With the funding, researchers from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine will evaluate emocha’s platform that provides mobile video technology allowing tuberculosis patients to meet medication requirements at sites in California and Puerto Rico where it is currently in use. A third site in Minnesota, where the platform is not currently in use, will also be evaluated.
With the study, emocha is aiming to show that its mobile app helps keep patients following a treatment regimen and take medicine as instructed. Known as medication nonadherence, patients going off track with treatment is an issue across healthcare.
While the research will take two years, the data will be valuable for the FastForward 1812–based company. In addition to talking up a product, Seiguer said it’s particularly important for startups in the medical realm to “put out data that really proves in an independent manner that you can achieve what you say you can achieve.”
A first phase conducted in Maryland showed 94 percent of patients stayed with the treatment. It also looked at cost effectiveness, showing that public health systems can save $1,391 per patient on average.
It showed validation, which is important for the company as it looks to grow.
“There’s nothing like an independent academic medical center and one of the best clinical scientists in tuberculosis [treatment] publishing that your platform has achieved 90 percent adherence,” Seigeur said.
In the meantime, the grant is also providing resources to help emocha conduct pilots in Guam and New Jersey, Seiguer said.
emocha is applying a similar approach as it looks to expand to help treatment of patients who struggled with opioid addiction. It’s beginning a second phase of research to evaluate use of the platform in treatment using buprenorphine. Funded by a separate federal grant, the research will take place at University of Washington School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center.
The 12-person company is also looking to grow its team. As we reported in this week’s On the Market, the startup has a pair of new roles open in design and dev.
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