Catalia Health partners with the American Heart Association for Heart Failure Management


Can a Robot Help Improve HF Management?

Mabu may be the next big step…

Catalia Health + AHA = HF Success?

Recently it was announced that Catalia Health was joining the American Heart Association's Center for Health Technology & Innovation's Innovators Network to help address the issue of heart failure management. For those that may be unfamiliar with heart failure, there has been an increased concern related to the large prevalence of the disease in the United States, coupled with reimbursement for readmission rates associated with the disease. That being the case, any innovations that can demonstrate a cost-savings aspect on ROI for preventing HF readmissions is of high interest at this time. I think this can be best summarized by Dr. Cory Kidd, founder and CEO of Catalia Health:

"We're on a mission to address both parts of the healthcare equation: improving patient outcomes and expanding the current capabilities and efficiency of healthcare companies. This new milestone with the American Heart Association solidifies a critical step in further enhancing our technology and expanding our reach to even more people struggling with chronic disease."

But, the issue at this time is while much hype has surrounded the use of digital health to help improve patient outcomes, save lives, and reduce cost - in the realm of HF it hasn’t exactly panned out. One of the largest trials of late was the BEAT-HF trial that investigated the use of multiple digital health sensors and tools to help monitor patients post-discharge and prevent readmissions. The trial did not pan out, and found no real clinical benefit. Now, I have authored a response alongside Dr. Maulik Majmudar in JAMA Internal Medicine outlining some reasons we felt this trial failed, and that brings me to my interest in Catalia Health Mabu.

Why Touch Points Matter in HF Management

One of the largest concerns we had with the BEAT-HF trial was the technology utilized and integration into the clinical workflow. We outlined several concerns as follows:

  1. Lack of Patient Engagement - The study relied on nurse-calls as patient interaction, which in this day and age can be supplanted by alternative means, whether automation/SMS/or even chatbots. This would increase data flow from patients and more meaningful information could be collected.

  2. Little Patient Interaction - Only 9 telephone calls were planned in the study over a period of 6 months, and the results of the study demonstrated that on average each patient only completed 6 sessions. When you take that into consideration, there really wasn’t much communication happening with the patients in the study.

  3. It’s Not just Vitals and Measurements - Data is king, but also patient factors such as social welfare and general health are factors in management of HF patients. All to often most technological interventions focus on objective data measurement (heres a good example) of the patients physiology which can be a shortcoming. With digital health we have many more options for data capture and patient interactions.

So, taking that all into consideration, Catalia Health solution really strikes me as an interesting proposition for outpatient management of HF.

What could Mabu Do?

So, let’s get into it, what is Mabu you may be asking? Well, as I covered in my list of digital health medication adherence company list, it’s a robot that goes into the patient home to provide social support and medical touch points. It’s a little human-like robot, equipped with a tablet computer that displays questions and can be interacted with. Now, not too much information has been released at this point on Mabu full capabilities, but based on what I have seen I have some guesses.

  • Personalized Patient Education - One thing that may come about (depending on how well the clinical suite of information is created on the backend of Mabu) is a good personalized education robot for patients in the home. I have not seen to much out there on the market of education videos or software for patients with HF, and Mabu could be able to offer this in the patient home. This could include answering questions, playing videos, or even games. One example I know of is Heart Failure Coach (iOS | $49.99), that has patients be responsible for a virtual avatar with HF in order to better understand disease management and monitoring themselves. I always found this approach interesting, and I think something similar could be added to Mabu - such as Mabu having HF and the patient checking in on him/her/it.

  • Medication and Vitals Monitoring - Again, a rather simple approach, have Mabu remind the patient to perform certain actions. Take their medication, check their weight, BP, HR (perhaps integrated with wearable or bluetooth enabled devices). Mabu could serve as a humanistic factor to help encourage patient engagement with their health, instead of SMS or alerts from an app.

  • Virtual Care - Now this is something I am unsure of, but it would be interesting to explore. There has been past literature on patients self management of HF symptoms. I feel that (again depending on backend support and workflow), Mabu could not only serve as an engagement tool for remote monitoring of HF and patient interaction, but guide patients when to act. Suppose a patients weight jumps up 2+ pounds, and the patients individual action plan states that at 2+ pounds to call the doctor. Well, this could be automated, but also have Mabu administer a questionnaire that would be standard in conversation with a nurse or provider in a scenario. Now, it could be that the provider has Mabu instruct the patient with a standing order set or remotely to take an extra loop diuretic or other actions and to continue monitoring. This is rather basic, but I imagine it would be rather interesting to consider as a possibility.

So these are my top interest areas with Mabu, and I think such an approach would target my concerns related to using digital health to upgrade remote patient monitoring with HF.

Who else could compete?

Well, if you look at my list, there are some other companies that could enter this space as well. Pillo perhaps may be one of the biggest contenders, based on a similar aspect I could imagine with Mabu, except Pillo can directly dispense medication as well. Of course, the other market includes current companies supply technology for remote monitoring already (such as those in LTC and Home Health agencies).

Nonetheless, I am looking forward to whatever studies that come out of this, and feel free to comment on your thoughts!