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South Africa taps emocha for tuberculosis-fighting mobile apps

The JHU-affiliated health IT startup developed three apps to make sure patients who are diagnosed with TB get care.

Johns Hopkins-affiliated health IT startup emocha is marking World TB Day with the launch of a new system in South Africa.
The system uses three apps to take patients with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) — a more deadly form of TB — through the process of getting care. There are three separate apps that are designed to link patients with the disease to treatment at specialized clinics.
The emocha system is specifically designed to address a major gap in the healthcare system: about half of the 16,000 people diagnosed with MDR-TB don’t return for treatment after being diagnosed at a primary care clinic.
emocha developed the apps as part of an initiative called the MDR-TB Partnership. Made up of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, the National Department of Health of South Africa, Jhpiego-SA and the National Health Lab Service, the partnership aims to devise new approaches to treating TB. The startup, which uses mobile health technology licensed from JHU, received funding from the Partnership to develop the app, but did not disclose the amount.
According to emocha CEO Sebastian Seiguer, the three apps are designed to interface with South Africa’s system along each stage of the care process. TB test results are linked with enrollment data at the primary care clinic. Then, a “Linkage Officer” uses another app to set up an appointment with a specialized clinic. Finally, that clinic uses a third app to help identify treatment, and tracking patient contact.
Going forward, emocha will continue to be involved in the system by doing maintenance, support and further development of the app.
emocha, a graduate of DreamIt Health Baltimore, also operates TB apps used by the Baltimore City Health Department and the county surrounding Houston, Texas.

Companies: Scene Health / DreamIt Health
People: Sebastian Seiguer

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