Wellframe has launched a mobile app whose purpose is to aid patient rehabilitation. When they have been discharged from hospital, patients can now make use of a personalised monitoring system.
The starting point for the four Wellframe founders was the realisation that in spite of the availability of dozens of mobile apps and devices in the healthcare sector – ranging from smart bracelets to apps enabling the patient to make appointment with a doctor – very few of them focus on patient follow-up care. When patients have been discharged from hospital, they are supposed to follow complicated medical rehabilitation programmes prescribed by their doctor: a combination of medication, exercise, and education to help manage risk factors. The overwhelming amount of information and advice patients get can make it hard to follow those programmes correctly. This often results in complications or requires a return to hospital, which represents a considerable cost. People who do not follow their rehabilitation programmes properly may easily die as a result, whereas, according to Dr Randal J. Thomas, the Director of the Mayo Clinic’s Cardiovascular Health Clinic, patients who do follow their cardiac rehabilitation programmes properly can lower their risk of death by as much as 45%. With this in mind, Wellframe has launched its first product: a mobile application which focuses on helping heart attack patients to manage their own rehabilitation once they have been discharged from hospital.
High-definition medical follow-up via mobile
With the Wellframe app, patients receive the same instructions they would at a clinic, such as daily recommendations for exercise, but on a remote basis. This means they can avoid making frequent visits to the doctor, which are not always feasible for the patients and are expensive for the healthcare system. The app uses artificial intelligence to track the patient’s progress, and his/her daily activity, adjusting accordingly the daily programme s/he should be following. Wellframe CEO Jacob Sattelmair compares the application to a GPS: “It recalibrates to give you the next set of directions.” So if a patient has trouble doing certain exercises, the app might suggest exercises that are more appropriate for his/her level and set a more gradual progression to a more demanding routine. The app also includes a message system for patients and doctors to communicate throughout the rehabilitation period.
Lowering healthcare costs in the short and medium term
The Wellframe app is sold to clinics and hospitals, and it is the responsibility of qualified healthcare providers to provide an activation code for each patient following a programme. If the app is successful, it could lead to significant reductions in healthcare costs. Cardiac problems are the number one cause of death in the United States and the US tops the list of countries when it comes to patients needing re-hospitalisation. A study published in 2012 in the Journal of the American Medical Associationstated that in the US14.5% of people who suffer myocardial infarction are readmitted to hospital within thirty days of first being discharged. The total cost of treatment of cardiovascular illnesses was calculated to be $272 billion per year in 2010, and is, according to the American Heart Association, set to reach $800 billion by 2030. The startup has already tested its programme with institutions such as the Brigham and Women's Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and plans to pilot-test the app with ten more hospitals before its official launch. Wellframe then intends to expand into other areas of treatment including pulmonary disease, cancers and psychiatric care.