From Child’s Play to Healthcare Game Changer

From Child’s Play to Healthcare Game Changer

Verizon partner honored for pioneering work in Video Directly Observed Therapy (VDOT)

Verizon is proud to congratulate a pioneering partner, Dr. Richard Garfein and his team, at the Division of Global Public Health, Dept. of Medicine at the University of California San Diego.  They were honored this December by  Connected World Magazine as one of ten machine to machine (M2M) pioneers for their work in the treatment of Tuberculosis (TB), using Video Directly Observed Therapy (VDOT). 

VDOT is a revolutionary, TB therapy system that overcomes many of the challenges of having a healthcare professional meet with a patient to observe therapy, so making it easier for patients to adhere to treatments.  Patients use a mobile device to make daily video recordings of them taking their medications, and send the recordings to their public health department, which can monitor patient compliance remotely.  This improves the quality of life for patients, increases medication adherence, and lowers costs for patients and providers.

In support of this visionary work, Verizon has partnered with the team by providing funding and technology to support a scaling of their program.  Verizon’s HIPPA-enabled cloud solution has made it possible for multiple health departments to monitor remotely and simultaneously the treatment of hundreds of TB patients. The company will also provide hundreds of smartphones and service to patients in the program, to help public health departments seed VDOT technology among those who need it most.

It is hoped that this therapy system proves a powerful ally in the fight against TB, which is the second leading cause of infectious disease deaths worldwide, and claims nearly 2 million lives each year. In 2011, 8.7 million people fell ill with TB.  It is a chronic and fatal disease, but it is treatable, as long as the daily regimen is strictly adhered to for 6-9 months.

How did it start? The VDOT program was inspired by an astute observation: when Dr. Garfein noticed his children playing videos using smartphones he thought “boy if they could be doing that for fun, how can we be using this for something more productive?”  The program that followed has shown early promise.  In a pilot test in San Diego, CA and Tijuana, Mexico, 100% of patients said they would recommend VDOT over an in-person meeting with a healthcare professional.  Furthermore, almost 90% continued to use VDOT after the pilot was over and health officials reported that treatment adherence improved by almost 50%. 

The sky – or more accurately the cloud – really is the limit. Dr. Garfein believes that VDOT is in its infancy and will have broad ramifications.  He notes: “It’s a way to connect patients to their healthcare providers in a way they never could before…which could be used to provide better patient care.”  

To learn more about VDOT, see this interview with Dr. Garfein.

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