The tool developed by London-based uMotif enables patients suffering from serious, long-term illness to monitor their own condition and also gives them exercises to do, reducing much of the to-and-fro between doctor and patient.

Patients suffering from chronic medical conditions such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease need to have key data monitored on a daily basis as their treatment goes forward. Even the most clued-up patients are of course not doctors, and when they are suffering from an illness that requires constant monitoring, they very often need to contact their general practitioner, whether to signal an acute problem, just for a check-up, or simply because not having a good overview of their own condition makes them anxious. Starting from this point, the uMotif team, who presented their platform at the Health 2.0 conference held in London on 17-19 November, set out to bring the patient in earlier into what uMotif co-founder and CEO Bruce Hellman calls an “interoperable digital health system”. The uMotif app allows patients to build themselves a support structure. They can incorporate their own information in conjunction with their doctor and will receive advice and exercise guidance in line with their symptoms and quality of life going forward.

A modular concept

The uMotif system works on the basis of an interface that is very simple but nevertheless enables complex and exhaustive processing of the information. Patients basically put together their own app from building blocks, pre-existing modules. They can for example monitor sleep quality, blood pressure, glucose levels, track physical activity and also their body weight, using the wireless scales provided. The app sets out on the one hand to make the patient aware of his/her state of health, and on the other to enable the doctor to see the medical data in context. “We spend on average 8,700 hours a year taking care of ourselves, but only spend three hours with our clinician. uMotif aims to optimise these three hours and at the same time help ensure that patients don’t feel abandoned between medical appointments,” explained Bruno Hellman. In addition to being able to track their biometric data, patients can interact with their app. In the case of Parkinson’s disease for example, the app provides some light exercises which allow the patient to test and practise dexterity and memory. Lastly, depending on the information supplied by the patient, the app can remind patients to take their medicine, or of appointments with the doctor, as it is known that around 50% of all patients forget to follow their treatment properly.

A simple tool to improve the care structure

If this app seems to have only rather trivial uses, it is nevertheless a fact that it helps to fulfil a number of essential aspects of the treatment of chronic conditions. Over £800 million are wasted every year by the UK National Health Service (NHS) due to missed appointments alone, while an estimated €127 billion and $290 billion are similarly wasted in Europe and the United States respectively through patients not following their prescribed treatment. The real value of the uMotif app therefore lies in the fact that it brings together a range of tools within the same system. On the one hand the patient becomes an active participant in his/her own treatment and, on the other, clinicians can view patient information in context. The uMotif platform has already been tested for use with diabetes and Parkinson’s disease sufferers, and a multi-centre trial in NHS hospitals across the UK is due to start in early 2014.

By Quentin Capelle