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What Huma has learned from COVID-19

Three important lessons on how COVID-19 is shaping modern medicine

First published: 8 Dec 2020 | 5 min read
Author: Nikki Šulentić, Ed Sykes

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world; the emotional and physical toll, uncertainty, and disruption are leaving a huge mark. Most of us have not seen this level of pressure on healthcare, businesses and communities for generations.

We have all needed to do things differently, and we will continue to do so as we face an uncertain future. But there are also reasons for hope. The speed of development has been unprecedented, with at least three new vaccines created in less than a year, and a transformation in healthcare technology enabling the same number of clinicians to care for ever more people.

At Huma, we have played our part by pioneering digital technology that not only helps in the fight against COVID-19, but allows better healthcare for all. We created virtual wards that have been approved nationally through the NHS, enabled remote clinical trials to understand the impacts of the illness and are enabling clinicians to collect real-time data from over 1 million patients.

Along the way, we've learnt three important lessons on how COVID-19 is shaping modern medicine:

1. We can successfully monitor patients remotely on a national scale

The NHS has faced a particularly tough challenge of caring for a significant number of COVID-19 patients along with people living with chronic conditions. We helped them monitor these patients remotely, doubling the number of patients they could look after¹ with 94% patient adherence*.

Before COVID-19, we were already working with the NHS to remotely monitor patients with chronic and rare conditions. We realised we could adapt this work for COVID-19 patients.

Huma’s COVID-19 Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) technology gives real-time feedback about patients and flags any deterioration in their health. Patients use an app, pulse oximeter and digital thermometer to track vital signs and symptoms, whilst clinicians can see any changes at a glance and focus on those in need.

The technology has been so successful that a BMJ article reported that we had enabled twice as many patients to be cared for at home, with 94% patient adherence. We have been approved for use across the NHS and in hospitals and GP practices in Germany.

The RPM system is working so well, that many partners are asking to use it for other patients and other diseases that need monitoring in the community.

2. Remote clinical trials are gathering data faster whilst bringing costs down

Research has also been threatened by COVID-19. Our technology has helped keep clinical trials running by allowing them to be done remotely.

Huma and the MRC Epidemiology Unit based at the University of Cambridge are running a virtual study to understand the progression and early signs of COVID-19 infection. The study remotely monitors 12,435 participants to develop pre-symptomatic prediction models of COVID-19.

Huma is also working with Bayer, Stanford Medicine and the Stanford Center for Digital Health to run clinical trials on atrial fibrillation. The study will remotely monitor U.S. patients over six months, with the dual aim of supporting patients and paving the way for decentralised clinical trials.

Whilst a necessity during COVID-19, the ability to run clinical trials remotely greatly increases who can take part in any research - this could remove a key barrier to participation.

3. There’s a growing need for self-managed health

COVID-19’s harm has made us realise the importance of needing to understand our health better and how to control, monitor, and make positive changes in order to lower our risk of developing severe illness.

Huma worked with Johns Hopkins University to make a tool that uses digital biomarkers to help assess someone’s likelihood of being more severely affected should they contract the COVID-19. This ‘COVID-19 Severity Risk Score’ is shared with individuals via an app, and comprises a calculator that requires the individual to enter personal health data manually, in addition to certain measures collected from smartphone sensors.

The results are presented as a range, and aim to empower individuals to better understand their own health, including risk factors that influence prognosis and disease progression relating to COVID-19 and similar pandemics.

Huma’s digital solutions and their success in helping combat the COVID-19 pandemic is a testament to our mission in striving for a world where each person can live their life to the fullest.

We’re proud to be part of a wonderful team that has worked tirelessly to make a difference.

If you’d like to learn more about Huma, feel free to visit our website.

¹ The “virtual wards” supporting patients with covid-19 in the community. BMJ 2020;369:m2119 https://www.bmj.com/content/369/bmj.m2119

* During 94% of patient days, patients reported oxygen saturation and heart rate data. Data collected between 20 April - 18 August 2020 (n=274)

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