Analytics and mHealth find common ground

From the mHealthNews archive
By Eric Wicklund

A new mHealth platform pledges to help diabetics not only record health data, but plan ahead to better manage their chronic condition.

The collaboration between Accenture and Fjord, its UK-based design and innovation consultancy, pushes the envelope on wearables to include predictive analytics – long seen as the next phase in mHealth and a key component of provider adoption.

The two companies are unveiling the Fjord Fido, a device-agnostic analytics platform that can track a user's diet, exercise and sleep, among other data, and use analytics to determine how much insulin he or she will need – and when.

"Fido is not so much an app but rather a personal health analytic platform that is device-agnostic," Jonas Hoglund, Fjord's service design director, tells mHealth News. "The concept is about tracking the variables that affect blood glucose levels. When that information, such as nutrition, stress level and activity, are paired with factual blood glucose levels, we hope it will help users become aware of how daily lift impacts blood glucose levels. All of this data can be turned into something meaningful for the user, so they can act, learn and predict." 

[See also: 3 things telehealth needs to succeed in 2015]

The platform combines Fjord's wearable technology background with Accenture's business intelligence expertise, pushing the concept of wearables beyond simple data-capture. Healthcare providers have been reluctant to embrace the market – especially the consumer-facing side – because they haven't been sure that the devices will give them reliable data or data they would need to affect clinical outcomes.

According to Hoglund – who's the father of a diabetic son -  Fjord Fido will gather physiological data automatically, without the user's input, but will also rely on the user to enter information on meals and carbs consumed. The platform could then add in historical data (past meals, exercise, sleep), determine where the user is located – say, a McDonald's – then access an online menu for nutrition information. It might also access the user's frequent menu choices to gauge what he or she might order, and "give a good default estimation" of the user's future carb intake and insulin needs.

Hoglund stressed that the Fjord Fido is still in its early stages. Company officials are anticipating creating a dashboard for the user, as well as a means of sharing that data with healthcare providers.

"At this stage, it's important to know that Fido is a concept -- a systematic, validated illustration of how digital could better manage diabetes," Hoglund said, "with a working model to follow in the next stage of development."

The healthcare industry is looking for that next-generation platform that would allow providers to identify care coordination concerns so they could step in and help patients manage their health before it becomes a crisis. With a diabetic patient, for example, providers would like to see when that patient is trending toward an unhealthy episode – not eating or exercising correctly, causing blood glucose readings to spike or drop dangerously low – and intercede.

The diabetic market is a large one, and ripe for this type of innovation. More than 387 million people have been diagnosed globally with diabetes, and researchers estimate that number will soar to 592 million in 15 years. The chronic condition is one of the nation's top killers, and a chief factor in healthcare spending, with roughly $1 of every $9 spent on healthcare in the country going to diabetes treatment.

See also: 

Will analytics pique provider interest in wearables?

CDS tool maker for diabetes docs seeks FDA approval