Remote Tech Eases the Path Toward Successful Population Health Management for Tuberculosis

By Dan Lee

The current pandemic environment reminds us all of how challenging public health initiatives around infectious diseases are. For providers tasked with running population health programs for tuberculosis (TB), it didn’t take COVID-19 for them to understand the importance of staying on top of patient medication adherence and meeting strict care plan requirements. In TB programs, where departments of health ranging from municipalities up to the state and even federal levels, it is imperative that each dose is witnessed and confirmed by a healthcare professional in order to help patients get better faster while doing everything possible to minimize the spread of the illness.

This presents an obvious, but serious challenge for the care teams managing these patients. Tracking individual doses for individual patients represents a huge commitment of time and talent for provider sites. Add to this the fact that in-person clinic visits require sick patients to travel which can be a burden on them and their caregivers. While it sometimes makes sense to utilize visiting nurses to monitor medication adherence in the patients’ homes, this is costly, time-consuming and stretches resources for often already cash-strapped clinical sites. 

Answering the call with Smart Technology 

Luckily, technology tools now exist that help the care team record all doses taken outside the clinical site with high accuracy. The AiCure Dosing Support solution works through the Patient Connect app on a smartphone or similar device. It works in two ways:

  1. It alerts patients when it’s time to take their medication and then walks them through how to take their medications correctly. 
  2. It uses the smart device’s video recording features, along with AiCure’s proprietary artificial intelligence to record and confirm each dosing according to the care plan.

The automated assistant functionality  is a huge benefit to patients who, amid managing a serious illness, are often tasked with complex dosing regimens that, otherwise, might be difficult to keep track of.

The care team receives a visual record confirming each dose, or they receive alerts prompting them that a potential issue has occurred, allowing them to provide the appropriate level of support to patients. The app itself couldn’t be simpler for patients to use and for clinicians to benefit from: 

  • The patient registers with the app
  • The app explains the regimen and guides them through how to dose correctly
  • The patient receives reminders, alarms and automated text alerts to help prompt them when it is time to take their medication
  • Clinicians receive real-time dosage confirmation and receive alerts when dosage is missed, allowing them to engage with the patients and intervene as necessary

The benefits are clear – sick patients can stay home while clinicians still receive around the clock data that satisfies health department mandates for patient adherence monitoring. Exposure to TB for others is minimized, while additional costs and resource expense that may have been associated with deployment of visiting nurses is avoided.

At a time when many of us are worried about how the traditional cold and flu season may impact the COVID-19 pandemic, the usefulness of remote monitoring for infectious disease patients  should not be overlooked. Public health programs in the U.S. and globally are employing this technology for the management of TB, but it’s not far-fetched to see how these techniques could be employed for other illnesses such as COVID-19. There are real, measurable benefits of integrating AiCure’s Patient Connect platform for population health programs:

  • Decreased patient burden
  • Decreased clinical burden
  • Decreased risk of infectious disease exposure through reduced face-to-face interaction
  • Full visibility into dosing including dosage confirmations for clinicians
  • Faster programs – remote monitoring can help patients get healthier faster
  • Reduced costs – past clients reported savings of between $200-$300 per patient

Read more about AiCure here.