Partners HealthCare and Samsung to co-develop mobile health offerings

By Jonah Comstock
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Partners HealthCare has announced a partnership with Samsung Electronics to co-develop mobile health solutions. Initially, the Boston-based integrated health system will work with the electronics giant to create chronic condition management software.

Partners will launch a clinical trial of the new software in June. A press release from Partners indicates a focus on remote monitoring health factors like blood pressure, blood glucose, and weight, as well as mobile interventions in the areas of patient engagement, medication adherence, and wellness self-management.

“We are excited to have access to the vast capabilities of Samsung Electronics to help improve the way we deliver care to our patients. This joint development program has the potential to significantly propel mHealth and personal connected health forward,” Kamal Jethwani, Senior Director of Connected Health Innovation atPartners HealthCare, said in a statement. “This project represents the start of how smart technology, intelligent algorithms and world class clinical expertise can be combined to change the paradigm of care delivery.”

At HIMSS in Chicago this week, Partners Vice President of Connected Health Joseph Kvedar didn't address the partnership directly, but he did talk about remote patient monitoring and some of the ways it would be improved by moving directly to the phone and cutting out physical hub devices.

"You see the hub here, the Qualcomm device," Kvedar said, indicating a slide with an image of the Qualcomm Life 2net Hub device during a discussion about remote patient monitoring of blood pressure. "Eventually that hub will become your mobile phone. Today our penetration with smartphones and the sophistication with which our patients can use them is just not quite there yet that we can bring everyone onto a mobile phone platform for this, but we will."

The problem with using a lot of connected devices and a separate hub device is that they add extra steps to a process that should be as streamlines as possible to maximize patient engagement, Kvedar said.

"Really these value propositions for mobile are such that from a patient engagement perspective, mobile really is a game changer," he said. "It’s this always on, always connected thing in your pocket, that I can reach you in the moment. We’ve never thought of delivering healthcare that way, we’ve always thought of it being something that you travel to someone to get, or a long time ago maybe someone came to your house, but it was always episodic. That really, really changes how we think about delivery and care."

The phone can capture a good deal of health information through the camera and the accelerometer. It can display that information. And, as Kvedar says, it's extremely sticky.

"What I think is the killer app is these things are addictive," he said. "People look at their phones 150 times a day. If you could get your health message in that mix, so that every time I look at my phone I get an improve-your-health message, I really think there’s an opportunity there that we haven’t leveraged yet."

At least year's mHealth Summit, Samsung Chief Medical Officer and VP for Global Healthcare David Rhew indicated to MobiHealthNews that the company had its eye on working with providers to tackle chronic disease. The Partners collaboration seems to be another step in that direction.

"This partnership will be an important step towards embracing the real needs of healthcare providers and patients. We aim to leverage our technology to help individuals lead healthier lives, while delivering healthcare providers the tools they need to improve clinical outcomes," Suntae Jung, Vice President, Samsung Electronics said in a recent statement. "We look forward to collaborating with Partners HealthCare and Massachusetts General Hospital, and to the unlimited potential for mobile care technology."