Hospitals, Health Tech

Johns Hopkins Is Teaming Up With Healthy.io to Improve Diabetic Patients’ Wound Care

Johns Hopkins Hospital teamed up with Healthy.io, a company that offers smartphone-based technology to improve wound care management for diabetic patients. The partners are conducting a 120-person study to measure the impact of the startup’s technology.

Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions in the U.S., with more than 37 million Americans living with the disease. The condition is often associated with chronic wounds, as about a quarter of diabetes patients develop foot ulcers or other chronic wounds in their lifetime.

To improve chronic wound care for diabetic patients, Johns Hopkins Hospital teamed up with Healthy.io, a startup that was founded in 2013. Healthy.io — which is based in Boston, London and Tel Aviv — offers smartphone-based technology for better wound care management.

The company’s wound care solution allows users to scan their chronic wound with a standard smartphone camera. Based on the scan, Healthy.io’s provides documentation, as well as wound monitoring services.

“Following each scan, the app leverages proprietary color processing algorithms to normalize images taken under a variety of lighting conditions. Next, the app runs a set of computer-vision and deep-learning algorithms to analyze the data and translate it into clinical outputs. These include a 3D reconstruction of the wound area, a breakdown of the tissues and the wound’s exact measurements, including width, length, depth and total wound area,” explained Healthy.io CEO Geoff Martin.

This data, along with the visual record of the wound’s progression, gets stored on a portal, facilitating collaboration among healthcare teams, he added. Specialists can then access this digital wound analysis remotely, which can help them make informed decisions and form personalized treatment plans. 

The technology is designed to enhance analysis accuracy and identify deteriorating wounds, prompting timely intervention from the care team, Martin said.

By harnessing the capabilities of smartphones, Healthy.io aims to overcome barriers such as limited access to care and transportation obstacles, while also confronting systemic health inequities and the increasing cost of care, he declared.

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In the wound care space, Healthy.io’s main competitors are Swift and Tissue Analytics, Martin stated. 

“Compared to our competitors, we offer more seamless collaboration, as we work with providers and healthcare systems and integrate into their existing systems, helping alleviate traditional strains on the system while improving access to care. This flexibility and commitment to care allows us to provide meaningful health insights around the world by empowering people to test at their own convenience,” he remarked.

But it isn’t just Martin who thinks Healthy.io’s technology is a winner. Dr. Caitlin Hicks, a director of research at Johns Hopkins, told MedCity News that she learned about Healthy.io’s technology from a colleague and “was immediately impressed.”

Johns Hopkins began collaborating with Healthy.io on a pragmatic trial about 18 months ago, she said. She expects the trial to run for another six months or so, ultimately aiming to enroll 120 patients.

Half of patients undergo standard diabetic wound care, which means biweekly in-person clinic appointments, and the other half use Healthy.io’s app to monitor their wound, Dr. Hicks explained. Patients are enrolled for three months or until their wound heals, whichever one happens first.

With this trial, Johns Hopkins is seeking to determine how patients can achieve better wound healing outcomes without the burden of having to attend frequent in-person visits, she noted.

“The primary aim of the study is wound healing, and this is designed as a non-inferiority trial,  which means we are trying to show that outcomes are relatively similar between the two groups. We are also assessing patient satisfaction, quality of life and healthcare costs, the latter of which we expect to be lower among patients who use the wound app because they theoretically will not need to attend clinic visits so frequently,” Dr. Hicks stated.

Martin said that he hopes the results of the collaboration will enrich the body of research on digital approaches to diabetic wound care management.

The beginning phases of this trial have already shown promising results, he pointed out. For 36% of patients using Healthy.io, the platform prompted significant clinical adjustments in their care plan, such as establishing a different daily treatment regimen or scheduling earlier clinic appointments.

Photo: Dmitrii_Guzhanin, Getty Images