LifeMap moves from research to clinical care with COPD Navigator app

By Jonah Comstock

LifeMap Solutions, the San Jose-California startup behind the ResearchKit app Asthma Health, has launched its second app, COPD Navigator, for free in the app store. At the same time, the company has launched a branded, enterprise version of  COPD Navigator, called iBreathe, with chronic care management company SuperCare Health.

Both versions of the app will provide local weather and air quality alerts, medication reminders, and tools to monitor COPD symptoms, all with the goal of improving treatment adherence and helping patients spot the signs of an exasperation. Where they differ is in how patients can share that data with their doctor: the free version has a summary screen patients physically show their pulmonologist, whereas the SuperCare version, and other, future branded versions can send the data directly to the doctor. The doctor can access the data on a dashboard similar to the one they added to Asthma Health.

The app also has educational content, provided by development partners at the Icahn School of Medicine and the National Jewish Health Respiratory Institute, both at Mount Sinai, for patients who want to learn more about their condition.

"Within our first year of emerging out of stealth mode we've shipped two apps, Asthma Health, of course, which is research-oriented and now COPD Navigator, our first commercial app and our first app specifically for clinical care," LifeMap CEO Corey Bridges told MobiHealthNews. "I'm happy we've been able to utilize the learning that we got from building Asthma Health in this. We've got some additional ResearchKit apps in the works as well as additional commercial apps."

LifeMap has been piloting this COPD Navigator at Mount Sinai hospital since March. Both pre-market and post-market testing and iteration are very important to Bridges, who differentiates LifeMap from other companies based on its approach to engagement.

"I think one of the secret weapons in the LifeMap arsenal is we're utilizing best practices in terms of app engagement and tracking how sticky the app is in terms of user engagement, that video games and social networks use," he said. "Our CTO and head of product, Rafhael Cedeno, used to be an executive at Viacom. Using his skillset allowed us to create with Asthma Health, the stickiest app of the initial ResearchKit set of apps."
That mindset is also part of the impetus between offering a free direct to consumer app as well as branded versions with partner organizations.

"At the core basic level it was important to us to offer a free app to people," Bridges said. "We felt we were in a unique position to offer what we hope and expect will actually be a valuable tool to people to help monitor and manage their COPD. So we wanted to make that tool available for free. [... But also,] getting an app like this into the hands of the public is also beneficial to us. Having a free app, building on best practices you see in the video game industry, that is the best way to get honest, direct, and efficient feedback from users about what works and what doesn't."

In addition to the branded version adding physician connectivity, organizations LifeMap works with will also have the opportunity to layer in rewards for adherence like gift cards. Also, the app is HealthKit-enabled and can thus bring in data from a number of peripherals including smart inhalers (which LifeMap used at Mount Sinai as they developed the app) and more basic activity trackers. If a patient has an Apple Watch, the app can also push notifications to the Watch.

Right now, both Asthma Health and COPD Navigator are iOS-only, but Bridges told MobiHealthNews that Android versions of both are in the works.

"As much as we love Apple and as great as Apple has been in helping really kick off this acceleration in medical scientific learning using mobile devices, it's a big world out there and we want to help as many people as possible," he said.

Bridges sees LifeMap's move from the research space into the clinical application space as a microcosm of how mobile health is progressing as an industry.

"That's going to be the story for the next year or so," he said. "[Digital health] moving from a curiosity, to a research tool, to an actual mainstream, accepted clinical tool. I think it's very exciting."