Tool for Chronically Ill Patients to Manage Illnesses Available to License

March 2016
Topics: Healthcare IT, Mobile Technologies, Health Services Administration, Public Health, Software (General)
MITRE's Patient Toolkit mobile app enables chronically ill patients to better manage their conditions, track their symptoms and medications, and communicate information to their healthcare providers. We're now working to get it into patients' hands.
Kristina Sheridan

More than half of Americans deal with one or more chronic conditions, either as a patient or as a relative, friend, or caregiver. To help patients become effective members of their own healthcare team, MITRE is now offering our Patient Toolkit to our government sponsors and for commercial licensing. If even a fraction of patients uses the toolkit, the effect could be noticeable.

"This is a national challenge," says MITRE's Kristina Sheridan, who heads the team that developed Patient Toolkit. "We've got 117 million people with one or more chronic conditions. In addition, we have between 34 and 52 million caregivers. Four out of five healthcare dollars are spent on their behalf, which is nearly $2.1 trillion annually. Patient Toolkit has the potential to achieve substantial cost savings while improving health outcomes." Patient Toolkit is a simply designed, schedule-driven mobile application. It helps patients input and track their health data and manage their days more effectively. They can track their medications, note when they took them, and record how it impacted their symptoms.

Handy reminders prompt users to take their medications on time, which improves treatment compliance rates. Poor adherence to medication compliance causes an estimated 125,000 deaths annually, accounts for 10 percent of hospital admissions, and results in an estimated $100 billion in additional healthcare costs annually.

With Patient Toolkit, Sharing Improves Caring

Just as important, Patient Toolkit enables patients to easily share their records with their caregivers and healthcare providers, so that they can make more effective decisions as a team. Patients no longer have to rely on their memories and run the risk of forgetting to convey important information to healthcare professionals during appointments.

Because treatment plans often need to be coordinated among multiple providers, the information captured in Patient Toolkit reduces the likelihood of duplicate tests and treatments. The app also can help healthcare providers identify new conditions more quickly, and alert them to additional conditions that could hinder recovery, so they can develop more-effective treatment plans.

MITRE built Patient Toolkit as an iPad app, but its functions can be integrated into other mobile technologies and across existing healthcare technology. That means caregivers, in-home nurses, and doctor's offices can collect patient-generated data to achieve better patient outcomes.

A Personal Connection Yields a Patient-centered Solution

Four years ago, our health leadership team determined that a key way MITRE could transform health in the country was by empowering patients and caregivers to manage their care and the care of their loved ones. A key resulting research project was Kristina Sheridan's Patient Toolkit initiative, inspired in part by Sheridan's own experience managing her daughter's chronic Lyme disease.

Fortunately, Sheridan's daughter is now a thriving college student, but Sheridan and her team continue to push the envelope on empowerment through proof-of-concept application development and trials with real patients and care providers. The research is just one element of our support to the CMS Alliance to Modernize Healthcare (CAMH), an FFRDC operated by MITRE for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

To assist them in developing Patient Toolkit, the MITRE team collaborated with academia. A survey of healthcare providers conducted by researchers from Carnegie Mellon's Heinz College "helped validate that the specific types of data we were tracking would be valued and wanted within the clinical sector," Sheridan says. The survey also revealed that patients weren't encouraged to collect this information, and tools were not available for them to do so. "That feedback provided us further validation that we were focusing on a gap."

A License to Heal Starts at Home

A clinical study by the University of Virginia's engineering and medical center helped the team verify the usefulness of the data being collected. The study found patients are receptive to tracking their symptom severity data between appointments, want to use mobile devices to collect the information, and can reliably collect valid data outside the clinical setting between appointments.

"We've had tremendous support for and feedback on our work," Sheridan observes. "Over the past two years, our team has spoken at more than two-dozen national conferences to get this information, vision, and concept out. We've had an immense uptick in terms of people's understanding and involvement.

"Patient Toolkit provides the 'patient voice': it's now time to get it into the hands of the American public."

As a not-for-profit operator of FFRDCs, MITRE makes its innovations broadly available by transferring them to the government, the public, and industry for further use. Making the results of MITRE’s research and development available for commercialization through licensing is a priority. When MITRE technologies are included in new products, they provide additional value to our sponsors, contribute to economic growth, and benefit the public.

MITRE has a simple licensing process to enable companies to license this technology and take it to market. For information about licensing the Patient Toolkit technology, please contact MITRE's Technology Transfer Office.

—by Jim Chido

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