Pharma company taps Healthrageous for mobile diabetes management

By Brian Dolan
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Telcare Blood Glucose MeterLast week German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim announced a deal with Boston-based digital health company Healthrageous, which spun out of Partners Healthcare a few years ago. The companies plan to launch a pilot study to evaluate a lifestyle behavior modification program that aims to help people better manage type II diabetes.

The six-month study will leverage Healthrageous’ platform, which includes a coaching program and a wireless-enabled glucose meter. Since Healthrageous inked a deal with Telcare earlier this year, it is likely the device Boeringer will use for the study is the Telcare BGM.

Here's how Telcare and Healthrageous described their combined offering when it was first announced in February: “The Healthrageous Personal Health Improvement Platform helps individuals modify their health habits and behaviors utilizing an evidence-based protocol (or ‘journey map’) for diabetes management. Individuals create an online assessment of health habits associated with managing diabetes and a personalized action plan to control their blood glucose. When an individual uses the Telcare BGM to take a blood glucose reading, that data will be seamlessly integrated into the Healthrageous ‘biometric scorecard’ to validate that their health habits and behavior changes are having a positive impact on their condition.” Healthrageous’ “digital coach” will then identify and push personalized messages, alerts and other relevant content to individual users. The platform offers incentive tracking, team and individual competitions, informational videos, medication reminders, and an online HIPAA-compliant community.

The Boehringer study will evaluate how well the intervention leads to changes in lifestyle behaviors and it will study how well the program enables glucose control and medication adherence, while taking into account other medical parameters.

Boehringer has stated that this will be the first of many “beyond the pill” digital health programs that the pharma company pursues.

"Boehringer Ingelheim is known for innovation in research and development and for bringing high quality medications quickly to the market. But we are also committed to a ‘beyond pill’ approach in health care. We have to pursue a new approach to see the patient with all his or her aspirations but also limitations. We need to find suitable answers that will benefit not only the patients and their family but also the whole society in so far that healthier patients lead a more satisfactory life and can contribute to society for longer." Bert Tjeenk-Willink, Member of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim said in a written statement. "This first initiative offering a comprehensive digital platform for Type 2 diabetes will help us to better understand what motivates individuals to become and remain engaged in self-managing their health. We are delighted to be working with Healthrageous here. Boehringer Ingelheim will engage in many more initiatives of that kind."

For more, read this press release below:

PRESS RELEASE: Ingelheim, 10 July, 2012 – In future patients with certain diseases, especially chronic ones, should be treated in a more holistic approach beyond drug treatment only. Thus Boehringer Ingelheim is concentrating on new business models and healthcare innovation and just signed a contract with the US company Healthrageous, Inc., a digital health management company.

Both companies will evaluate in a pilot study a lifestyle behavior modification program to improve the health status of people with diabetes Type 2. Study participants will experience a digital technology intervention combining digital coaching and a wireless glucose meter transmitting data to clinical monitors.

The Internet-based tool will allow an evaluation of the intervention on changes in lifestyle behaviors, glucose control, additional medical parameters and medication adherence. 

Bert Tjeenk-Willink, Member of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim

"Boehringer Ingelheim is known for innovation in research and development and for bringing high quality medications quickly to the market. But we are also committed to a "beyond pill" approach in health care. We have to pursue a new approach to see the patient with all his or her aspirations but also limitations. We need to find suitable answers that will benefit not only the patients and their family but also the whole society in so far that healthier patients lead a more satisfactory life and can contribute to society for longer." said Bert Tjeenk-Willink, Member of the Board of Managing Directors of Boehringer Ingelheim. "This first initiative offering a comprehensive digital platform for Type 2 diabetes will help us to better understand what motivates individuals to become and remain engaged in self-managing their health. We are delighted to be working with Healthrageous here. Boehringer Ingelheim will engage in many more initiatives of that kind."

An estimated 366 million people worldwide have type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type, accounting for an estimated 90 to 95% of all diabetes cases. The number is expected to grow considerably in the next years due to unhealthy lifestyles. Conclusions from findings in Behavioural Science show that in most chronic medical conditions and diseases such as diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) or high blood pressure interventions with respect to drug adherence, lifestyle changes in nutrition, physical exercises, stress reduction and can bring about measureable improvements. The most important aspect, however, is that the patient sticks to a chosen regimen and properly manages his/her lifestyle change.

The goal of the new diabetes program is to leverage technology in a way that makes the personalized journey of self-managing diabetes easier and more effective. During the collaboration, in a first phase 200 adults in the U.S. diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes for at least six months will have access to Healthrageous’ digital diabetes self-management program. The web and smartphone delivered program will include a personalized action plan with health behavior improvement goals, biometric feedback to demonstrate goal achievement and milestones, digital coach interaction, recognition and incentives for progress, supply and strip refill ordering, medication reminders, and social networking support. If the results show the expected benefits, the program will be expanded to encompass up to one thousand patients in different countries.

Boehringer Ingelheim
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world's 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 145 affiliates and more than 44,000 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing novel medications of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.

As a central element of its culture, Boehringer Ingelheim pledges to act socially responsible. Involvement in social projects, caring for employees and their families, and providing equal opportunities for all employees form the foundation of the global operations. Mutual cooperation and respect, as well as environmental protection and sustainability are intrinsic factors in all of Boehringer Ingelheim's endeavors.

In 2011, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of about 13.2 billion euro. R&D expenditure in the business area Prescription Medicines corresponds to 23.5% of its net sales.