We are at a pivotal time for the healthcare industry. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a sustained increase in chronic illnesses and healthcare worker shortages, as well as an increased acceptance of – and demand for – remote care and medtech-enabled solutions.
At Huma, we believe that everyone should have an opportunity to attain their highest level of health. We are proud to work with some of the biggest governments, hospital groups, universities, life science and technology companies to reduce health inequities and help people live longer, fuller lives via research and digital-first healthcare delivery.
By advancing connected care for patients and accelerating research and therapies, our award-winning technologies can help to prevent and eliminate roadblocks to health equity.
The World Economic Forum is working with public, private and civil society stakeholders to embed equity (along with diversity and inclusion) in the new economy and to advance gender parity. We are focused on improving health equity and are honored that Dan Vahdat, Huma CEO and Founder, will join the Digital Health Action Alliance panel at the WEF’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland this year to discuss Turning the Tide in Non-Communicable Disease Care Through Digital Health and Community Connection. Huma has been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Innovators Community since January 2021.
Huma is also proud to be one of the first signatories of the Zero Health Gaps Pledge, the World Economic’s Forum Global Health Equity Network’s initiative. The Global Health Equity Network (GHEN) brings together private sector executives, government representatives, academics, and civil society leaders to advance a collective vision of Zero Health Gaps. The pledge requires leaders across the global economy to collaborate and invest resources, commit to actions and evaluate their impact – with the aim of creating a world where there are no differences in healthy years in a person’s life span, within and across communities.
In an exciting initiative that demonstrates how digital health tools can advance health equity, Huma is supporting enrolment in Our Future Health through its patient engagement platform which has a total reach of nearly 30 million patients in the UK. This aims to be the biggest population health research study in the world designed to understand better the causes of ill health and key predictors of disease across all populations.
Promoting health equity in clinical trials
According to Clinical Leader, 85% of clinical trials fail to retain enough patients. A big contributor to this failure is the fact that clinical trials have traditionally faced numerous barriers to recruiting sufficient participants from diverse ethnicities.
According to the FDA, ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by poverty and low socioeconomic status, which also results in poorer health. These populations often lack access to health education, meaning they often do not recognize the symptoms of disease, as well as often fail to understand the importance of – and actively seek out – treatment and/or treatment options, including clinical trials for which they may be eligible. A recent survey conducted by Corbie-Smith et al showed that black subjects were also less likely than white subjects to trust their physicians to fully explain “their participation in research” and not expose them to unnecessary health risks.
Some minority populations include higher ratios of individuals who work on hourly wages and simply can’t afford the costs associated with clinical trial participation. According to another study, 60% of minority respondents cited distance to the clinical site as the main barrier to participation – especially if the study required multiple follow-up visits – as they couldn’t afford to take time out of their day to participate.
In addition to concerns about unfair ethnic biases on the part of healthcare providers, exceedingly strict inclusion/exclusion criteria – like an unrealistic demand for low BMI, for example – can also block minorities from clinical trial participation, despite evidence showing that the BMI-mortality relationship is actually weaker among blacks compared to whites.
Decentralized clinical trials (DCTs) enable studies to recruit from a much more geographically and ethnically diverse pool, which improves the overall quality of each study by removing many of the roadblocks to participation, like travel requirements.
It’s been a little more than a decade since Pfizer launched the first-ever decentralized clinical trial (DCT), and more decentralized or hybrid clinical trials are now being planned than traditional, face-to-face site-based trials. By allowing patients to interact with a clinician and submit information remotely, our decentralized clinical trial platform can improve trial participation, diversity, engagement and efficiency, at scale. Through our recent acquisition of Alcedis, we will be able to combine that market-leader’s clinical and operational know-how with our digital care expertise to make Huma the optimal healthtech provider, able to support the seamless integration of digital technology into clinical trials.
Improving health equity for patients with chronic conditions using RPM
The barriers that keep minority and rural populations from participating in traditional clinical trials are virtually identical to the barriers that keep them from accessing in-person healthcare. These populations often live considerable distances from care providers, have limited transportation options, and have lower incomes, which prevent them from being able to take time off from work to attend clinic or doctor visits. As a result, they have a disproportionately higher likelihood of experiencing – and disregarding – chronic health conditions like diabetes, obesity and heart disease until they have an adverse event requiring costly hospital admissions.
At Huma, we support healthcare providers to address this disparity with our award-winning remote patient monitoring (RPM).
Remote medical visits proved crucial during the pandemic, forever transforming healthcare delivery. The pandemic demonstrated the value of telehealth for all patients, whether they live in urban, suburban or rural settings. According to a national survey conducted by the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) and Social Sciences Research Solutions (SSRS), nine in 10 adults say they are satisfied with the quality of their telehealth care, while eight in 10 say the healthcare issue they were primarily concerned about was resolved remotely.
Patients can feel similarly reassured about RPM.
When clinicians can monitor current, accurate patient data remotely in real time – and not just periodically see patients in person – they can adjust treatments, detect non-compliance or clinical events, and intervene as necessary, no matter those patients’ backgrounds, incomes or locales. Having access to these early diagnostics is crucial for clinicians’ long-term management of patients with chronic conditions.
More than 85% of people living in the United States now own a smart device, including those who are part of underserved communities. Huma’s ‘hospital at home’ technology helps to close the healthcare equity gap by leveraging patients’ devices to collect real-world data remotely. It connects patients and clinical teams, enables greater access to care from any location through virtual visits, improves efficiency for clinicians and outcomes for patients, and reduces readmission rates.
Through our app, clinicians use a library of modules and features to deliver care plans to patients configured for their needs. Our fully-regulated and compliant SaMD platform can also deliver targeted educational content, empowering patients to better track and manage their health. For example, it can advise patients on culturally appropriate diet and lifestyle choices prior to surgery, as well as provide education and guidance to help patients recover after a procedure.
Not only can digital-first care enhance patient engagement, experiences and outcomes, but emerging technologies like RPM can also help hospitals and other healthcare organizations lower healthcare costs for those lacking healthcare coverage, as well as the 8.3% of adults age 18 and above who put off medical care because they can’t afford it.
For many facilities, health professional shortages can present another barrier to healthcare equity. Our technology can help remove this barrier by improving efficiency via better coordinated care and optimized treatments. Our platform is also ready to deploy in more than 60 countries across the United States, Europe, China, Middle East, Southeast Asia and elsewhere, which can directly improve healthcare equity for patients dealing with language barriers that can hinder access to the care they need. Digital health technology has the power to help patients and clinicians transcend geography. RPM provides an opportunity for patients living in rural areas or with poor health services to access the very best treatment, care and advice from centers of excellence, regardless of where they live.
By removing the barriers to health equity, our technology can accelerate research and deliver more effective treatments to more patients faster, ultimately helping them live longer, fuller lives.