Hospitals, Startups, Patient Engagement

emocha expands medication adherence program across South Africa for multi-drug resistant TB

emocha Mobile Health has won the support of the South Africa department of health to adopt its technology to improve treatment for patients with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis across the country, according to a company statement.

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

emocha Mobile Health, a digital health startup that’s using telemedicine as a way to confirm medication adherence, has won the support of the South Africa department of health to roll out its program for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis patients across the country following a pilot, according to a company statement.

The program, referred to as miLINC, was developed to identify, track and support these patients. For patients in primary care clinics, healthcare professionals collect critical data such as a national identification number, medical record number, mobile number, and specimen barcode. Lab results are matched against enrollment data from the clinic on emocha’s cloud-based server. Linkage Officers check results and follow up with patients. Specialized nurses check patients into specialized clinics for MDR TB.

The move follows a pilot of its technology in three clinics in South Africa. This program is separate from emocha’s medication adherence app, miDOT.

emocha took part in the Startup Showcase at the CONVERGE conference in Philadelphia this week. Co-founder and Director of Marketing Morad Elmi presented the company in an elevator pitch session. The company’s approach evolved from a Johns Hopkins Hospital program to train healthcare workers to treat HIV in Uganda.

The company references a statistic that more than 16,000 people are diagnosed withMDR-TB each year in South Africa. Half don’t return to the clinic for care after they are diagnosed.

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As part of an initiative led by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, it’s collaborating with the National Department of Health South Africa, Jhpiego-SA, the National Health Laboratory System, Centers for Disease Control, the Global Fund, and PEPFAR.

Key to miLINC is the interface with the National Health Lab Service, which boasts a national network of 260 laboratories that services over 80% of South Africa’s population, to rapidly get test results to the patient and healthcare providers.

To bridge the gap, emocha integrates several providers onto the emocha platform, keeping each informed as the patient progresses to initiation, according to the company statement.

emocha took part in the inaugural class of DreamIt Health Baltimore and has since collaborated with public health departments in the U.S. — like Harris County in Texas — to support medical protocols for treating multi-drug resistant TB and other conditions.

It is also working with the National Institutes of Health on pilots that focus on adherence once patients are discharged. In addition to TB, other conditions supported by its app include smoking cessation, weight management and diabetes.