HEALTH

Truth Initiative, Mayo Clinic introduce new smoking cessation program

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Truth Initiative, in collaboration with Mayo Clinic, on Thursday announced the EX Program, a quit-smoking program designed for employers, health systems and health plans to offer to their employees and members. The fully digital program expands upon EX, the consumer platform launched in 2008 that has helped more than 800,000 smokers. Research shows that following the EX plan quadruples a smoker's chance of quitting.

"We developed the EX Program to fill a gap in the market," stated Robin Koval, CEO and president of Truth Initiative, a national public health organization. "Organizations are still burdened with the financial and health impacts of smoking, and many are frustrated with the poor results they're seeing from wellness programs. Tobacco use is a complex addiction that requires specialized treatment from a provider with deep expertise and experience. We aim to be that provider."

EX Program participants receive digital coaching and medication support from tobacco treatment specialists at the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center and Truth Initiative, along with proven quitting tools and an online community of thousands of smokers and ex-smokers. Employers and health plans receive frequent reports on employee engagement and outcomes, along with guidance on promoting the program and setting workplace tobacco policy. The EX Program also helps employers meet requirements for wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act.

According to the Truth Initiative, statistics make clear why an innovative, advanced approach is needed. As many as 68% of smokers want to quit. And while 55% of smokers make a quit attempt annually, only 7% are successful.

Each year a smoker costs an employer nearly $6,000 more than an employee who has never smoked.

The Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center has a longstanding collaboration with Truth Initiative in delivering EX to consumers. Weekly blogs, and an active presence in the EX community, have established Mayo Clinic as a valued source of expert advice and guidance. "The EX Program eliminates virtually all of the barriers to effective treatment and provides ongoing support through the ups and downs of tobacco cessation," said Taylor Hays, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center. "We are excited to build upon our relationship with Truth Initiative in this innovative program."

The EX Program is designed to be as effective as phone-based coaching, but more accessible, flexible and cost effective. Today, 95% of U.S. adults own a cellphone, and nearly 9 in 10 use the Internet. "The ability to reach smokers with a digital quit smoking program is unprecedented. Our research has shown that online, interactive interventions are as effective as face-to-face and quitline interventions, but at far lower costs," said Amanda Graham, SVP innovations at Truth Initiative and head of the EX Program. "With the EX Program, smokers can connect with experts and peers at any time, from any device, for as long as they need. Use of the EX community is an independent predictor of success, and 93% of members say they would recommend EX to other smokers who want to quit."

The EX Program's inaugural health-system client is CHI Mercy Health, a private, not-for-profit medical center in Roseburg, Ore. Mercy, affiliated with the nation's second-largest Catholic health network, will offer the EX Program to employees, patients and all residents of Douglas County.
 

 

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CTA projects 2017 wearable health sales will grow by 19%

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — Advances in measuring, reporting and enhancing our personal health data will revolutionize our own health, according to tech experts at the Consumer Technology Association's Health & Fitness Technology Summit. Held on the first day of CTA's Technology & Standards Forum here, the Summit featured technologists from health and fitness leaders including Alphabet, Fitbit, Nokia and Philips participating in panels and working group meetings to discuss how tech is changing our lives for the better.

"I truly believe medical grade wearables are the future of mainstream healthcare," stated Ravi Kuppuraj, chief architect and venture owner, Philips Connected Sensing and Wearables Venture, during the day's keynote address. "There is a huge opportunity here. The timing is right, the technology is coming together and there are the right clinical reasons to do this."

As the role of consumer health and fitness technologies evolves across the medical industry, by 2020 the U.S. could reach a "critical mass" of physicians using patient-generated data from devices such as wearables, according to CTA's 2017 report, Wearable Health and Fitness Technology in U.S. Medical Care.

"One of the key themes of the Summit is that health and fitness tech makes it easier and more meaningful than ever for consumers to make smart decisions about their health," said Brian Markwalter, SVP research and standards, CTA. "Connectivity is one of the driving trends of our time, allowing healthcare to become more personalized and more effective. Wearables and the software supporting them provide actionable, customized advice – that empowers consumers to lead healthier lifestyles and allows physicians to better work with patients to manage chronic conditions."

The Forum also examined current and future guidelines for physical activity and mobile health approaches for measuring and reporting physical activity. Specifically, experts explored how the consumer technology industry can support these efforts through additional industry standards.

"We have an exciting opportunity for consumer technology to help us live healthier lives, to engage people in their wellness and have a real impact on healthcare in many areas," said Matthew Diamond, chief medical officer Nokia Technologies. "Recent advances in technology, including sleep tech, allow us to gather reliable data with consumer products, to help users discover insights into their behavior over time and the relationship between their sleep, activity, heart health, and overall well-being."
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According to CTA's U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts report, health and fitness technology will see record U.S. sales in 2017. CTA expects sales of 37 million units – a nearly 20% increase over 2016 – and earnings will increase 19% to $3.2 billion in revenue.

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Study: Wearable ovulation bracelet tracks fertility through pulse rate

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN FRANCISCO — A resting pulse rate can be used to identify the beginning of the fertile window in real time, revealed wearable manufacturer Ava on Wednesday, citing the publication of the first findings from its recent clinical trials.

The significance of these findings – which appear in the May 2 issue of Scientific Reports – is that In combination with temperature and other supporting parameters, the Ava bracelet detects the five most fertile days of a woman's cycle. Other currently available methods of fertility tracking such as LH ovulation strips can only identify the last 12 – 24 hours of fertility, and those reliant soley on basal body temperature recognize only the day after ovulation, when the fertile window is already over.

"What many women and their partners don't realize is that a woman can only get pregnant five days before ovulation and the day of ovulation itself," stated Prof.Brigitte Leeners, lead researcher from the University Hospital of Zurich. "In our research, we found that resting pulse rate usually is lowest during menstruation but rises significantly five days before ovulation and again after ovulation. Ava is the first technology that uses temperature, resting pulse rate and other parameters, including heart rate variability, sleep and bioimpedance, to provide a convenient and accurate at-home method to identify the beginning of the fertile window."

"We are committed to advancing the technology of women's health tracking and deepening  scientific understanding of the menstrual cycle through clinical research," added Peter Stein, Ava co-founder and VP research and development. "Ava is an innovative way to detect more fertile days, earlier within a woman's cycle, compared to other methods."

Ava's goal with the research was to find out whether it was possible to use wrist-worn wearable sensors to give women an accurate, convenient, at-home method of predicting ovulation. The clinical study concluded that temperature and resting pulse rate can be used along with several other parameters to precisely detect the fertile window.

In addition to announcing publication of the first results of its clinical trials related to pulse rate, Ava also announced it will be introducing a host of new features for its mobile app designed for Ava users who conceive, to be used during pregnancy. The new app experience – available June 1  – provides week-by-week, in-depth explanations of the changes that occur throughout pregnancy for mother and baby.

"With more than 50 confirmed pregnancies to date among Ava users, we wanted to add features enabling them to continue monitoring their sleep and physiological stress throughout pregnancy," commented Lea von Bidder, co-founder and CEO of Ava Science. "Ava's vision is to accompany women through all different life stages and this is a major step for us in reaching that vision. "

 

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