“With 24/7 health monitoring, the system has to be reliable. Blues Wireless is a key component enabling us to bring high quality care to cancer patients in their own home"
We’ve likely all been touched by cancer in our lifetime. This year, almost 2 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed and over 600,000 cancer deaths will occur in the United States alone. Despite how pervasive this disease is, cancer patients have traditionally been beholden to a reactive care model, burdened with monitoring and self - reporting symptoms and side effects while undergoing outpatient treatment. Powered by Blues Wireless, Agilix Health is working to redefine the model and deliver an improved quality of care for cancer patients through remote health monitoring systems. Agilix Founder and CEO Rakshit Sharma tells us why and how they came up with this technology.
With outpatient cancer treatment, chemotherapy is administered in clinics or hospital oncology wards. The infusion is a chemical cocktail meant to destroy cancer cells, but also toxic and damaging to healthy cells. Patients are then sent home, where they begin to experience the side effects of treatment without healthcare provider oversight.
Some of the most common side effects experienced are nausea, fatigue and diarrhea, which can snowball into more severe issues. This usually turns into the need for emergency care, with close to 60% of patients visiting the emergency department at least once within 6 months of diagnosis. But, more than 50% of those visits are avoidable by proactive care management and monitoring.
When patients visit the emergency department, they often get admitted or they disrupt treatment. Delaying treatment time decreases the chance of survival, as the cancer continues to grow. Treatment must then be restarted later at higher doses. And with an $8,000 average cost for an emergency room visit, this also contributes to higher costs for the patient, the hospital, and the payer.
The pandemic has accelerated innovation and adoption of digital health technologies. Hospitals were attempting to divert as much traffic as possible from emergency departments, while members of the community in need of care avoided visits out of concern for potential COVID - 19 exposure. This is particularly true for cancer patients who are at higher risk of infections. This exposed major gaps in our current system, including the costs of reactive care models. Out of necessity, we discovered that both routine and specialized care can be decentralized and extend outside of healthcare facilities.
"One thing that the pandemic taught us is that patient care can extend beyond the four walls of a hospital."
For cancer patients, real time measures such as grip strength and lean body mass are prognostic indicators of the need for interventional care. Nutrition is a vital component of preventative care, with mortality rate reaching 90% with a 5% drop in weight. In an outpatient setting, you’re only monitoring these indicators during scheduled appointments, which leaves a lot of time for the patient’s health to degrade.
Agilix recognized the need to support patients between medical appointments through nutrition support and remote monitoring. Their platform looks at the holistic health of patients on an ongoing basis, picking up on early signals of distress that would either result in emergency department visits or disruption of treatment. With the help of the team at Blues Wireless, Agilix Health prototyped a digital grip strength meter in six weeks. The digital meter translates a patient’s health information to the cloud for analysis, empowering patients and providers with real-time data.
When considering solutions, security and ease of use for patients, ability to develop a robust product, and long-term reliability were the biggest factors for Agilix. They knew that cellular was better than WiFi for patients and found there was no competition with the embedded cellular model from Blues Wireless. Blues Wireless Notecard helps bring quality care to patients in the comfort of their homes. With 10 years of connectivity and 500 MB of data to transmit data securely, this allows Agilix to continue innovating.
"Blues Wireless’ embedded data plan helped us reduce our price to go to market and ultimately have a wider impact on patients who need it."
Quality and accessibility were the other major considerations for Agilix. If this was going to work, it needed to be scalable and repeatable. Working with Blues Wireless allowed them to drastically reduce costs, getting this technology into the hands of patients who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford it.
In addition to improved health outcomes for the patients, Agilix’s goal is to drastically reduce financial burdens for the entire healthcare system. “If we can reduce ER visits by 50%, this will lead to tremendous cost savings for the hospital, for the payer and for the patient,” said Rakshit. Payers have mandated that hospitals incorporate quality metrics for Oncology, and readmissions negatively impact reporting. This puts hospitals at risk of being penalized with a poor reputation among consumers and reducing the amount of funding they receive from Medicare.
Agilix’s vision is to provide ongoing objective and subjective patient monitoring, handing control back to the patient and provider by giving them access to the information necessary to make informed decisions about their health. They aim to replace the reactive care model with an adaptive care model, reducing the burden to patients and the system.
Powered by Blues Wireless technology, Agilix Health empowers cancer patients, making them equal participants in their treatment by virtue of the data transmitted from high quality monitoring devices for assessment. Agilix Health remote monitoring uses the Blues Wireless Notecard, for zero-configuration cellular connectivity, available now in over 130 countries. Remote monitoring devices will bring objectivity to cancer management, lowering costs and improving treatment outcomes without cancer patients having to leave their homes.
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