Torontonians will be first to use combined WellDoc-Samsung mobile-enabled diabetes program

By Jonah Comstock
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samsung welldocWellDoc and Samsung will bring a new version of WellDoc's BlueStar mobile prescription therapy for diabetes to 300 Toronto citizens in partnership with the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), a Canadian government-funded nonprofit. The new offering, BlueStar-S, will combine features of BlueStar and Samsung S Health.

"Think of Samsung as a critical boost to what BlueStar already delivers," Anand Iyer, Chief Data Science Officer at WellDoc, told MobiHealthNews. "In BlueStar, although you have the provision to capture exercise, food, how you slept, these things now come in an automated sensor-like fashion from the Samsung device."

Users of the combined offering will have access to S Health-like tools to self-track sleep, exercise, and diet, while managing their diabetes with a customized self-management program offered through the app, like in BlueStar. Iyer said that WellDoc chose to work with Samsung, rather than another smartphone-based health data hub, Apple HealthKit, because it's a more clinically validated platform.

Correction: A quote in a previous version of this article indicated that the version of S Health involved in this partnership has FDA clearance, however, it does not. S Health v2.5 has FDA clearance.

OTN works with providers in Ontario to help them implement telemedicine technologies and to test out new telemedicine technologies. It has partnerships with two hospitals that will deploy the first wave of Bluestar-S prescriptions. The program will start out with 300 patients in Toronto with type 2 diabetes. As those hospitals learn how best to implement their technology, it will be expanded throughout the province, Iyer said.

"At OTN, we firmly believe guided self-management can change outcomes for people living with type 2 diabetes," Dr. Edward M. Brown, CEO of OTN, said in a statement. "By leveraging a clinical and behavioral science framework and pairing it with best-in-class lifestyle tracking, mobility and telemedicine, Samsung, WellDoc and OTN will demonstrate a new standard for treating diabetes."

WellDoc first announced that it was working with Samsung last November, when the consumer technology giant announced its collaboration with 24 different digital health companies. At the time, the companies planned to jointly explore “next generation diabetes devices and product offerings.”

"In many ways what this project represents is a very logical extension of what BlueStar had already begun: engagement and outcomes," Iyer said. "We’ve already established a baseline for engagement and we’ve established a pretty impressive baseline for outcomes with a 2 percent reduction in A1C. Our journey, therefore, is how do we continue to expand patient engagement and how do we get new outcomes or extend those outcomes? The blockbuster drug of the 21st century is the engaged patient drug. This is a very logical, rational, and quite exciting extension of what we already started. It pushes us faster into our vision then we could have imagined."