All-In-One Wearable Could Be the Future of the Digital Health Market

MAY 29, 2018
It's not often I come across a product that I consider a massive game changer to the field of digital health, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear of a new business that came out of stealth mode: LifePlus.1 This company has just announced their product, Lifeleaf, a wrist-mounted wearable that has a multitude of features that will offer a significant competitive edge against almost all current notable players in the wearable space.
 
The Lifeleaf is purported to be a noninvasive monitor that can track continuous glucose levels, blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and oxygen saturation levels. According to LifePlus, there are 5 trials in the world using their platform at this time.
 
In a press release, White House Innovation Fellow and LifePlus backer John Trobough said, "Managing diabetes and other chronic diseases requires early and timely detection, rapid intervention and high compliance. LifeLeaf exceeds those requirements with its patent-pending open standards-based software stack and cloud-based analytics. LifeLeaf is different from any other product and software technology available—it is truly unique, and we are excited to make this multi-sensor capability available to companies and developers globally.”
 
This is a big deal if it indeed works, as a lot of this technology is currently in the works by important companies, but no one as of yet has propositioned any major breakthrough like LifePlus is announcing.
 
Now, LifePlus doesn't have any data on their website regarding their science.2 There was a blanket statement on how their team has collaborated and has more than 100 patents. The platform boils down to a smartwatch that collects data from the user, which is then integrated with a mobile app to give the user insights, and then subsequently uploaded to a cloud-based AI platform to provide alerts and individualized insights for the user. All of this data can then be shared at the discretion of the user, including family members, and the medical community.
 
LifePlus is targetting several clinical areas for their platform, including diabetes management, hypertension, arrhythmias (e.g., Atrial Fibrillation), COPD, and sleep apnea. Interestingly, their website also detailed several case studies on how Lifeleaf could be integrated into these conditions, which I think warrants some attention.

The use case scenarios are topical, and present some clinical situations where the platform can be used in selected medical diseases to provide an ancillary measurement platform. While LifePlus is positing Lifeleaf as the third generation of wearables, in some ways, it still feels a little dated. I don't mean the technology it is pushing, that's novel, but rather the integration. At this point in the digital health field, I feel that platforms should be pushing for more inclusion into the clinical care spectrum.
 
While the data collected can be shared and analyzed on their end, I think a more significant story would be how this data can be acted upon by clinicians. My premise is that Lifeleaf, unless coming under current costs of an Apple Watch (which is pushing for EHR integration), will put itself out of a population that could use it. After all, LifePulse is selling its use cases on people almost self-managing and having difficulty with the clinical situation (such as their a.fib patient diagnosed with anxiety and not an arrhythmia or diabetes patient using their short-acting insulin). But, if they want this product rolled out to a large market, it's going to have to produce some evidence of cost-savings or serving some clinical utility.

Take current CGM devices on the market, which insurances will cover. A noninvasive CGM sounds really interesting, especially considering what else it can measure, but LifePulse clinical trials will need to demonstrate some usability, I would assume, to get covered by insurance companies. Once it does that, LifePulse can upend the wearable market, and put the likes of Apple, and Fitbit, and Kardia in the corner, to a certain extent. That is, until the next challenger with another device, and better platform, steps into the ring.
 
References:
  1. LifePlus Announces World’s First Non-Invasive Continous Blood Glucose Monitoring Wearable [news release]. Menlo Park, CA: May 16, 2018; BusinessWire. www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180516005422/en/LifePlus-Announces-World%E2%80%99s-Non-Invasive-Continous-Blood-Glucose. Accessed on May 20, 2018.
  2. LifePlus website. https://www.lifeplustechnology.com/. Accessed on May 20, 2018.
 


Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Aungst, PharmD
Timothy Dy Aungst, PharmD, is an associate professor of pharmacy practice at MCPHS University. He graduated from Wilkes University Nesbitt School of Pharmacy and completed a PGY-1 Pharmacy Practice Residency at St. Luke's University Hospital, and then a Clinical Geriatric Fellowship at MCPHS University. He is passionate about the rise of technology in health care and its application to pharmacy. He has published primarily on the role of mobile technology and mHealth, and made multiple national and international presentations on those topics. He blogs at TheDigitalApothecary.com, is a Co-Host of FurtureDose.tech a podcast part of the Pharmacy Podcast Network, and you can find him on Twitter @TDAungst.
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