Twine Health says app improves diabetes control

An app that lets doctors communicate with patients and track their medication and health habits daily could help diabetics better manage their disease.

Cambridge startup Twine Health has built software that allows patients to log their activity and medication doses on a phone app, which is then monitored by their health coach at a clinic. Twine says that patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure could benefit the most from this system: health coaches can message patients and remind them to exercise, or take their meds, if they fall afoul of their routine.

Now the team has evidence that the app makes a difference for diabetics.

In a study published in December, Twine founder John Moore, doctors at Joslin Diabetes Center, and researchers from the Harvard’s T.N. Chan School of Public Health showed that patients who used the app had better blood glucose readings at the end of three months than another group that did not.

For diabetics, doctors typically adjust insulin dosages during clinic visits. A departure from the norm, the group that used the app reported their blood glucose levels and diet to a health coach daily. Depending on the reading, the health coach adjusted their dose of insulin every day.

“The end result was much better,” said William Hsu, an endocrinologist at Joslin who was part of the study.

The group with the app saw its “hemoglobin AC1” reading, a measure of blood glucose levels, drop 3.2 points —1.2 points more than the group that wasn’t able to adjust its dose every day.

Hsu said that the app could be of particular use to patients with complicated versions of the condition — diabetes during pregnancy, for example, or following a hospital discharge.

The group published the study in the Diabetes Technology and Therapeutics journal in December.

In a similar study, published in March 2014, Moore and colleagues showed that the app helped people with high blood pressure hit their target goal over a three-month period. Moore also argued that the annual cost of treating a patient with hypertension would fall to $70 from an average of $250.

Moore developed the concept while a student at the MIT Media Lab and founded the company in 2014 with Frank Moss, an entrepreneur and investor who served as director of the Media Lab until 2011.

Twine Health has raised $6.75 million in venture funding from investors including Khosla Ventures, Provenance Venture Forum, and Tower Capital Partners. Twine says that 24 clinics and hospitals around the United States pay to use the platform.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at [email protected]
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