Outsourcing-Pharma recently spoke with Stewart Whiting, chief technical officer of Current Health, about how the use of home health monitoring has evolved in the month leading up to the pandemic, its new Community by Current Health offering, and what the landscape might look like in the years ahead.
OSP: Could you please share Current Health’s perspective on the industry’s evolving acceptance and use of at-home health monitoring?
SW: At-home monitoring has been around for over a decade, but only recently have we begun to see care delivery models fundamentally shift as a result of this technology. Largely, this is because new monitoring solutions can provide far more sophisticated visibility into patient health. Paired with advances in data science, new remote monitoring platforms can provide organizations with actionable insights that allow them to move acute patient care from the hospital to the home.
COVID-19 has made this need even more apparent as it has demonstrated the clinical and operational benefits of virtual care and RPM. As the pandemic swept across the world, giving rise to the adoption of digital health tools to monitor patients in their homes, preventing disease spread and reducing the strain on hospital resources. In turn, the highest-risk patients, such as those with heart failure or moderate COVID-19 symptoms, were able to avoid the potentially dangerous hospital environment and still get access to the care they need, safely.
As healthcare delivery shifts from hospital to home – driven in part by policies like the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Hospital at Home program and permanent expansion of system-wide telehealth programs – demand for technology solutions that can help monitor and manage patients with hospital-level insights from a patient’s home has increased. For example, in 2020 Current Health saw a 400% expansion of its hospital customer base and grew from monitoring just a few hundred patients to tens of thousands.
As adoption grows, new use cases for using continuous clinical data to identify and predict illness and ultimately enable earlier preventive treatment to emerge. For example, Current Health is working with Mount Sinai to monitor newly diagnosed oncology patients that typically need more guidance to reduce hospital admissions and improve patient outcomes.
We have also seen a sharp increase in decentralized clinical trials that use remote monitoring to capture patient vitals within the home, rather than requiring patients to go into a research facility. While initial demand for decentralized trials was born out of the need to continue research during the early days of the pandemic, our customers all plan to expand these efforts going forward because it is far more patient-centric and offers a new wealth of data to support R&D efforts.
OSP: Could you please tell us how the idea for Community came about?
SW: We created Community by Current Health because we believe that only through a deep understanding of how people develop illness can we develop treatments to help patients avoid the hospital altogether. Community is the natural next step in generating the world’s largest dataset of longitudinal insight into health outside the hospital to fuel predictive algorithm and biomarker development.
With Community, we can provide a new lens into people’s daily lives and how their actions impact their health. Community allows people to take part in clinical research from their home, unlike traditional clinical trials that are limited to recruitment areas surrounding academic research institutes. This means that we can develop more representative datasets, including populations who typically have been excluded from clinical research.
Through continuous data monitoring, Community enables us to collect data that will allow us to understand natural variations in an individual’s physiology, offering insight into a patient’s health 24/7 and not just when they visit the hospital or asked to report vital signs.
By monitoring these natural variations, it can reveal underlying conditions that may otherwise have gone undiscovered and could have impacted patient and study outcomes. Community also helps researchers better understand disease progression and deterioration to inform drug development and further studies.
OSP: Could you please share a little more detail on how the technology at work will help identify issues and predict illness or complications?
SW: With Current Health’s continuous remote monitoring, we’re able to capture hospital-level insights without participants ever leaving their homes. The continuous capture of data through our FDA-cleared wearable sensor allows for broader insights into human health than ever before.
By collecting and creating the largest set of real-time and real-world patient data, researchers, engineers and scientists can analyze this data to understand disease progression and develop and train AI algorithms to assist in predicting disease deterioration. Moreover, these biomarkers can help researchers in drug development that bring earlier, preventative treatment to the global population.
OSP: Please tell us a bit more about your COVID-19 study:
SW: Our goal for the COVID-19 study is to collect as much vital sign, symptom and behavioral patient data as possible to develop and train an algorithm that predicts when a COVID-19 infection is likely to become serious enough to require hospitalization. By predicting hospitalization due to COVID-19, we hope to enable earlier intervention, improve patient outcomes and help hospitals to maximize their limited resources – all of which are essential to reducing disease impact and improving clinical treatment for COVID-19 patients.
Outside of the immediate impact for COVID-19 treatment, the data will ultimately contribute to data models that allow us to predict health deterioration for a broader set of diseases such as COPD and CHF.
Anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 48 hours, lives in the US and is over 21 years old can take part in the study. Participants will be continuously monitored in their homes for 30 days with Current Health’s wearable sensor and will be required to complete a daily survey via Current Health’s provided tablet.
The survey questions will ask participants about their symptoms and any visits to doctors or hospitals they may have had. This collected health data will then help researchers develop models to predict outcomes and deterioration for COVID-19 and further scientific study around the disease.
This will be the first study conducted by Current Health’s new Community initiative and is part of our collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Biomedical Advanced Research Development Association (BARDA).
OSP: How are you finding and reaching out to eligible patients?
SW: We are primarily using social media to reach people across the US who have been recently diagnosed with COVID-19. Participants can express interest through the Community by Current Health website where they will then complete an online questionnaire and receive a screening call from a study team member to determine their eligibility.
OSP: Could you please tell us about the scope (i.e. how many patients, and where) of the study?
SW: We’re targeting 2,000 people across the U.S. to take part in a 30-day at-home clinical study. Participants will be monitored for 24 hours a day during the 30-day period.
OSP: Is there anything you’d like to add about the COVID-19 study, or the Community initiative?
SW: As with all data science, your insights are only as good as your inputs. Community provides an opportunity for us to create a more representative dataset that we can use to develop earlier, preventive treatments. However, it means we need to make the technology accessible for all patients.
Current Health provides a turnkey solution for clinical trial participants, so it is easy to access and simple to use. Everything a study participant needs is shipped directly to their homes, including a tablet and internet connectivity for those who may not have access to a smartphone or broadband.
By providing the required technology and connectivity, we can help overcome some of the barriers that have previously driven low engagement, such as not having access to Wi-Fi, computer or mobile device. By reducing the barriers, we’re able to expand our reach beyond the immediate surroundings of the hospital or academic center to reach a more diverse population of participants and create more representative clinical data set.