Medicine is a unique discipline, at once cutting edge and surprisingly low-tech. For all of the advances made in medical imaging technology and pharmaceuticals, medical records remain a largely pen and paper affair. As a result, doctors may miss opportunities to better tailor treatment to individual patients. It is also difficult to monitor how particular treatments affect different patients–information that can be used to improve pre-existing treatments. Ehave, a digital therapeutic company, is trying to address that problem, working to develop a digital platform for mental health professionals.
“One of the biggest things missing in mental health is good, comprehensive data,” explained Teek Dwivedi, CEO of Toronto-based Ehave (the name is a play on “behave,”), in an interview with InsideSources.
Ehave developed a single platform, accessible on a tablet or computer, that allows both patients and clinicians to create and access detailed information about the day-to-day effectiveness of treatment options. It is akin to digital medical records, with one key difference: Ehave also collects data of the sort needed for clinical trials.
“Medicine is a science,” says Dwivedi. “If you have the right data, you can cut down on a lot of trial and error.”
According to Dwivedi, mental health care has “been living in the 50s” for decades. Today, however, the stigma surrounding conditions like ADD and depression has fallen and patients are more willing to seek help. Ehave’s task is to help them get the best possible care. The computer program and app that Ehave has developed are helping to make a difference in the field by collecting data akin to that which drug developers would gather.
Dwidei explains that drug developers need specific trial data because that is what regulators–either in the United States or Canada–require. Running large-scale clinical tests present problems of its own. For one thing, such tests are very expensive and in some cases, like those of terminal illness, the use of placebos is unethical. As a result, the medical industry is exploring other ways of gathering the data they need to develop new treatments.
Ehave’s technology assists in this process. Already, the company is stepping in to work with Medreleaf, an Ontario-based firm that set records in early-June for the largest medical marijuana IPO in North America. The company became the subject of controversy earlier this year, when Canadian legislators learned that it had been paid $22.4 million, half of all medical marijuana reimbursements for veterans between October 2015 and September 2016.
To justify the expense, Medreleaf wanted data to support its claim that the treatment worked. That’s where Ehave stepped in.
Although Ehave has partnered with a medical cannabis company, the firm itself is neutral on the issue. Dwivedi stresses that innovating in mental health care requires access to data. The more that clinicians know, the more patients they can treat, and the better the field will understand how cannabinoids and cannabis can be used in a clinical setting.
Although often conflated in public perception, recreational marijuana, medical marijuana, and cannabinoids are three very distinct things. Dwivedi stresses that while recreational marijuana will wrestle with its own public perception problems, Ehave is focused on therapeutic uses. By using Ehave’s programs, he hopes that clinicians will better know how to prescribe, and patients to consume, cannabis for medical effect. Much of this boils down to the ability to better track efficacy and safety, highlighting not only what works, but also any potential side effects.
Ehave’s technology makes it easy for patients to make daily updates on their mood and other reactions to the medicine.
“We’re taking things they already do and making them better,” he says. “We aren’t asking clinicians to change how they do things, but instead are working with how they work.”
As with any data-sharing technology, privacy remains a worry for potential patients. Ehave stresses that any use of patient information comes after they acquire patient consent and that the information is all treated in a clinical environment. Access to the aggregated data, however, has the potential to dramatically shape how doctors will prescribe cannabis and related drugs in the future.
Currently, the company is focused on applying this technology to medical cannabis and ADHD diagnosis and treatment. Since the technology is still very new, the possibilities for expansion are large. Dwivedi says that the company has been approached by those interested in learning if it could be applied to addiction. He admits that in the future, a modified version could help family members of a person struggling with opioid addiction to find effective treatment.
That is still in the future, though, a sign of the directions open to the company as it continues to develop its product. If more data can lead to better treatment, things can only get better from here.