Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

University of Michigan adopts telemedicine to tackle childhood obesity

Steve Rogerson
April 28, 2015
The University of Michigan is using telemedicine to tackle childhood obesity. The university’s CS Mott Children's Hospital will be using software from New York firm Fruit Street Health to monitor the lifestyle of patients and conduct virtual consultations.
The hospital’s paediatric comprehensive weight management centre was founded in 2007 and will be using the software to provide patient access to its evidence-based paediatric weight management programme without the need for families to make frequent trips to its base in Ann Arbor. To achieve this goal, it needed a secure way to deliver individual and group sessions via video conferencing and to collect activity and nutrition information from patients easily between visits.
Providers chose to use Fruit Street's Virtual Lifestyle Medicine Clinic, which has been designed for healthcare providers that want to monitor the lifestyle of their patients and conduct virtual consultations on the company's HIPAA compliant FDA-registered video system. This will be integrated with wearable technologies such as FitBit, Withings, Jawbone UP, iHealth Labs and Apple Watch to enable clinicians to monitor lifestyle data from their patients such as sleep, exercise, diet, weight, blood pressure and blood glucose data.
The centre has a team of providers who will use the platform including physicians, dieticians, psychologist, social worker, exercise physiologist and physician assistants dedicated to the evaluation and treatment of adolescents with obesity through their MPower (Michigan Paediatric Outpatient Weight Evaluation & Reduction) Connect programme.
"Childhood obesity is a significant public health concern,” said Susan Woolford, a paediatrician and the medical director of the weight management programme. “Many children with excess weight will grow up to be severely obese adults and will suffer from obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Our goal is to help teens and their families improve their health through lifestyle changes and we believe that well designed communications technology can help us connect with our patients and increase the likelihood of our patients achieving success. "
Woolford's team will combine telemedicine, mobile application and wearable monitors with a weight management protocol to promote healthy lifestyle choices among patients.
"We are excited about this initiative with the University of Michigan and hope to develop a new more cost-effective model for the care of obese patients that hopefully helps millions of patients improve their health,” said Laurence Girard, CEO and founder of Fruit Street Health. “This initiative is in-line with Fruit Street's focus as a public benefit corporation to use technology to help people change their lifestyle and ultimately improve their weight."
Asif Ali, CMO of Fruit Street Health, added: "The ability to have a positive impact on treating childhood obesity will help these paediatric patients reduce their risk for chronic diseases that they will face later in life. This aligns with Fruit Street's mission to treat and prevent disease using telemedicine and wearable technology."