Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Brigham & Women’s adopts telehealth to tackle dementia

Steve Rogerson
October 29, 2019

Massachusetts-based Brigham & Women's Hospital has selected a telehealth platform from New York firm Fruit Street Health to study different ways to improve brain healthy behaviour in individuals at risk for cognitive decline and dementia.
Over 5.8 million people in the USA alone have Alzheimer disease or related dementias (ADRDs), conditions that carry vast economic, societal and personal burdens for health systems and families.
Research has shown that up to a third of the risk of ADRDs may be reduced by adopting brain healthy behaviour, including aerobic exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and engaging in socially and cognitively stimulating activities. Even while significant pharmaceutical research continues in efforts to delay or prevent dementia, the medical community, today, has evidence that lifestyle interventions are effective at reducing risk, in addition to having myriad benefits to overall health.
"There is a giant gap between our knowledge of the behaviour that reduces dementia risk and our application of this knowledge in the delivery of care" said Seth Gale, investigator and neurologist at Brigham & Women's Hospital.
Neurologists and primary care providers at Brigham are planning a six-month pilot study of older patients who are at a higher risk for dementia compared with their peers. Health coaches, allied with study participants' providers, will employ Fruit Street's digital platform to educate and motivate participants to achieve positive changes in brain healthy behaviour.
In the study, coaches will take advantage of the platform's fitness activity tracking, photographing of dietary intake, and two-way video and mobile messaging to guide participants in reaching individual lifestyle goals. Measures of quality of life, sleep, cognitive function, physical activity and diet among others, will be tracked over the six-month study.
"We are excited to be contributing to this effort at Brigham & Women's, where technology will be used directly to study the implementation of treatment recommendations," said Laurence Girard, CEO of Fruit Street Health. "Dementia is a major public health burden and we are committed to finding innovative ways to help fight it."
Fruit Street Health is a digital health and telemedicine company that licenses its software to healthcare professionals who wish to set up a virtual practice. It was the first company to deliver the CDC's national diabetes prevention programme, which has complimentary goals to those in the dementia risk reduction study being planned at Brigham.
Fruit Street's HIPAA-compliant telehealth software is possible through a joint venture agreement with VSee, a telemedicine video engine with more than three million users. Fruit Street and VSee collaborated to build a telemedicine product that helps healthcare providers conduct HIPAA compliant video calls and monitor the diet and lifestyle of patients using wearable devices and mobile applications.