Telehealth has proven a critical lifeline for patients, especially in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last year, telehealth has facilitated contactless check-ups, follow-up visits, team-based medicine, and even emergency and post-hospital care. For the 2.3 million total people who suffer from multiple sclerosis (MS) worldwide and the 1 million people in the US, a mobile app can be especially useful in managing and tracking short and long-term disease progression. Additionally, the cost of MS drugs per year is approximately $63K to $104K per year and total MS drug spend is $16.3B in the US and $22.3B Worldwide.
Pairing mobile technology with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning will allow Multiple Sclerosis(MS)patients and their clinicians to track neurological function over months and years. A specialized mobile app can capture data that allows for the detection of those features that Neurologists and other clinicians incorporate into the clinical visits with their patients. One particular mobile app includes 12 self-administered patient activities and feedback questionnaires for monitoring Multiple Sclerosis treatment efficacy. These particular activities that measure motor, cerebellar, sensory, visual, and cognitive function, can be used by machine learning to assign an overall disability score to each user. This particular mobile app’s 12 self administered patient activities were architected based on the “Gold Standard” methodologies to tracking Multiple Sclerosis disease progression including the Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) and the Multiple Sclerosis Functional Composite (MSFC).
As part of the specialized mobile app, questionnaires gather patients’ feedback on how MS affects their quality of life and how external factors like mood, nutrition, and exercise might impact their symptoms. With consistent app use, the combined quantitative and qualitative data log changes in both disability and everyday health and wellness.
A digital portal that is integrated to the specialized mobile app can allow Neurologists and other clinicians to analyze this comprehensive dataset and assess their patients’ neurological function. Should the data demonstrate further disease progression, clinicians can more quickly and effectively adjust current and future treatment. The app provides enough data points for not only telemedicine evaluations, but also for further study.
Dr.Sharon Stoll, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurology Yale School of Medicine says
“In addition to its clinical implications, the mobile data collected could potentially be used
by pharmaceutical companies to conduct clinical trials more efficiently and rapidly,
advancing the opportunity to impact the lives of patients with MS,”.Dr. Sharon Stoll adds that the quick pace of these trials would be facilitated by the volume of data points collected and the low variability between investigators due to the use of AI.
A specialized mobile app can revolutionize clinicians learning from patients. As a neurologist said “ Healthcare providers gain a look at their function over time, in a way that cannot be obtained during a typical clinical visit”. Also clinicians have said that MS patients don’t see the clinical team enough to impact the course of their disease. Having the patient and clinician consistently use the MS app can result in lower hospitalizations and lower MS related system flare-ups. The MS app can also be used as a companion digital therapeutic to MS Drugs.
The mobile app for monitoring the progression of MS has unexpected challenges and successes in patient user experience. Many patients are eager to participate in their own MS care. Patients can empower themselves to track their own progress. Patient have reported “So much of what Multiple Sclerosis is going on in your head, and you need the objective evidence that maybe things aren’t going as badly as you think they are”.