How Mobile Aids Can Improve Heart Health Outcomes
Dr. Trishan Panch, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Digital Health Management Company Wellframe, discusses how mobile assistive technologies can improve heart health outcomes for diverse populations.
What are the reasons why heart disease is more deadly among black Americans?
“In 2018, black Americans were 30% more likely die of heart disease than non-Hispanic whites. Black Americans are also 40% more likely to:
“This can be attributed to a variety of factors, from genetics to behavior to access to health care. There are also unique issues that affect Black Americans:
- The environment in which people live
- Socioeconomic status
“Discriminatory attitudes and behaviors of individuals in the healthcare system may contribute to suboptimal diagnosis and management of cardiovascular disease in black patients. This institutional racism leads to inequalities in access to and quality of health care.
“For example, a study of cardiologists found that only about a third agreed that there are racial/ethnic disparities in cardiac care in the United States. Only 12% felt that they existed in their own medical establishment.
“These social determinants of health demand that we recognize the corrosive influence of history and the deep structural inequalities that fuel these disparities. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to address the role that systemic racism plays in health disparities.
How does Wellframe’s digital health management app inform the program?
“Wellframe’s platform addresses the two biggest issues in US Medicare: patient experience and rising cost of care.
“During the clinical trial, researchers conducted a 12-week study testing the impact of Wellframe’s digital health management application on patient outcomes. In the Cardiac Rehabilitation (CR) program, all participants received supervised physical training and nutritional counseling Cigarette smokers were also enrolled in smoking cessation counseling.
“The digital test group used the Wellframe app for the duration of the CR program. Through the app, participants had access to:
- Standardized educational clinical content, written and video content to support CR and comorbidities
- Daily step counts with smartphone accelerometer integration
- A two-way secure messaging system between patient and program staff
- Surveys that screened for functional ability, nutrition, and depression
“While participants accessed Wellframe’s capabilities via a mobile app, program staff monitored patient progress via a web-based dashboard. The dashboard allowed research staff to see real-time patient activity and respond to digital messages.
“The study determined that CR patients who used the Wellframe app showed a significant increase in program adherence and session attendance, in a racially diverse population (42% of whom were black). used Wellframe had a program completion rate of 80.2% (nearly double the rate of the standard group) and experienced slightly greater weight loss Women and minorities also responded more positively to Wellframe compared to the standard group.
Why do you think women and minorities have better patient engagement with a digital tool like Wellframe?
“There is a misconception that high risk populations will not engage with a digital platform. In fact, they’re actually the most receptive population to it. Our recent impact report found that high-risk pregnant members showed the most engagement with Wellframe, and engagement corresponded to the number of diagnoses a member had (gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, prenatal depression, etc.).
“It is possible that the greater interaction, personalized guidance, communication and feedback that women and minorities received during this trial led to increased well-being and motivation to complete the program. This allows patients, especially patients who know they are at risk, to take a more active role in monitoring their health.Materials used during the program have also been designed to reinforce staff education. , covering topics ranging from understanding the physiology of the heart, to goal setting and habit formation, to safe exercise and healthy eating.
“Content and videos were provided in both English and Spanish, which would explain the engagement of native Spanish speakers in the program. By meeting members where they are and engaging them on their terms, care teams can forge meaningful and ongoing relationships.
How to make mobile solutions like this more accessible to populations?
“Digital health solutions can start by extending their language offerings beyond English. The lack of accessible translated information makes it particularly difficult for non-native English speakers to understand their health insurance plan.
“Mobile solutions are also expected to help improve health literacy, or an individual’s ability to access, process, and understand basic healthcare information so they can make appropriate healthcare decisions. People with limited health literacy tend to have higher hospitalization rates, are more likely to suffer from chronic conditions, and often skip important preventative care that can help reduce subsequent treatment expenses.
“Alternatively, when patients are informed about their condition and treatment options, they are more likely to be proactive about their care and understand why certain appointments or medications are needed. Digital care management programs can improve their literacy by improving accessibility to digital resources (e.g. having a mobile presence), using plain language principles when developing content, and shifting readability to higher level (for example: using medical terms instead of lay terms and avoiding abbreviations).
Do you think mobile solutions and remote care can be widely adopted after the pandemic?
“We have seen a massive increase in digital health solutions and remote care spurred by the pandemic. At Wellframe, we’ve found that an average of 35 digital health management touchpoints occur, per member, per month. A touchpoint is defined as a single message sent, an item completed in a daily health checklist, or a ticked reminder.
Wellframe’s Q2 Impact Report found that members who were most engaged and compliant with their mobile care programs experienced a 36% reduction in subsequent hospital admissions and a 32% reduction in emergency room use.
“Post-pandemic, we expect this adoption to only increase as digital health management becomes more available through health plans and consumer attitudes embrace the ease and convenience of virtual care. .”