|Philips' BlueControl--Courtesy of Philips|
Philips ($PHG) is getting serious about consumer health. In fact, it's staking the entire business on merging its healthcare and consumer units into one company focused on what it's dubbed HealthTech. It will spin off the lighting business into a separate company next year.
News of Philips' restructure and refocus came only about a week ago. But already the company has announced a couple of consumer health-oriented advances: the FDA clearance of a pair of apps focused on at-home patient care and the launch of the first wearable blue LED light therapy device to treat psoriasis.
FDA has cleared Philips' eCareCoordinator and eCareCompanion. They are the first clinical apps from a collaboration with Salesforce.com that was announced this June. Both are part of the Philips Transition to Ambulatory Care (eTrAC) program, which is designed to help reduce hospital readmissions and healthcare costs by focusing on effective chronic care management.
eCareCoordinator enables healthcare providers to conduct a daily review of health data for each of their patients including vital signs, blood pressure and weight. It can also be used to collect subjective patient responses via health questionnaires and to communicate with other members of a patient care team.
eCareCompanion functions as a patient portal enabling access via a tablet to information collected from connected devices such as a scale, oximeter, blood pressure meter and medication dispenser. It can also remind patients to complete designated health tasks such as taking medication.
The two applications are currently being used in a pilot program at Banner Health, an Arizona accountable healthcare organization. Philips plans to launch a similar program at Henry Ford Health System in Michigan.
"As our healthcare ecosystem evolves to meet the needs of a rapidly aging population while facing financial realities, we're seeing that digital healthcare can help us improve patient care and their quality of life," Dr. Hargobind Khurana, medical director of Banner Telehealth, said in a statement. "We're eager to incorporate these two new applications as part of our telehealth program to our patients and clinicians to facilitate better recovery at home."
In addition to the apps, Philips has launched a wearable blue LED device to control mild and moderate cases of psoriasis vulgaris. It is available in the Netherlands, Germany and the U.K. Philips will be presenting data on the device, known as Philips BlueControl, at the European Academy of Dermatology & Venereology Congress Oct. 8 to 12.
Philips has conducted two clinical trials with the University Hospital of Aachen for the device. The second trial was conducted over four months and completed in June. Psoriasis patients were treated for 12 weeks and showed a 50% reduction on average of symptoms according to the Psoriasis Area and Severity Index, which measures the thickness, redness and scaling of psoriasis plaques. No negative side effects were observed.
The blue LED device can be worn on affected arms, legs, elbows and knees and is UV-free. It is battery-powered and designed to be used anytime and anywhere.
"Research proves that blue LED light treatment slows down rapid cell division and can also reduce inflammation," Matthias Born, head of clinical affairs for Philips' Light and Health business, said in a statement. "This research has enabled us to develop, for the first time, an unprecedented treatment device that can make a real difference to the lives of sufferers psoriasis vulgaris."
- here are the releases on the apps and Philips BlueControl