Abbott has introduced a virtual clinic to connect users of its neuromodulation devices to talk to their physicians without meeting in person.
With COVID-19 limiting face-to-face interactions, the virtual clinic could allow patients with chronic pain or movement disorders to meet with their physicians and get treatment settings updated remotely. Abbott sees a role for the clinic in mitigating geographic barriers after the pandemic.
The FDA-approved virtual clinic is part of a portfolio of digital products and services created by Abbott to differentiate its offering from those of Boston Scientific, Medtronic and Nevro.
Abbott and its rivals for the neuromodulation market are searching for ways to drive growth after a flat 2019 defined by limited innovation and a 2020 disrupted by the pandemic. Collectively, the rivals are introducing new systems and trying to move into indications such as painful diabetic neuropathy and non-surgical refractory back pain to fuel growth.
At Abbott, the pursuit of growth has led to the identification of digital support products and services as a way to differentiate its offering from the pack. In January, Abbott disclosed the introduction of a NeuroSphere myPath digital health chronic pain app.
On Monday, Abbott followed up with the introduction of the NeuroSphere Virtual Clinic. The clinic is an in-app video chat service with integrated remote device programming, enabling physicians to talk to their patients and update treatment settings without meeting in person. The clinic uses cloud and Bluetooth technology to facilitate the interactions and updates.
Abbott sees scope for patients to use the clinic to interact with their physicians when they are unable to meet them in person due to COVID-19. Medicare will cover remote programming during the public health emergency. However, Abbott also sees a continued need for the clinic after the pandemic abates.
Patients with movement disorders travel an average of more than 150 miles to meet specialists who offer deep brain stimulation, according to Abbott. The company believes tools that mitigate those geographic barriers are needed to ensure patients get timely treatment.
Virtual care has skyrocketed during the coronavirus pandemic. Doctors and healthcare facilities used services like telehealth and remote patient monitoring as part of strategies to stop the spread of the virus and minimize the number of patients going into hospitals.
Abbott's virtual clinic caters to patients with movement disorders treated by the company’s Infinity DBS System, as well as chronic pain patients who use Proclaim XR SCS System or Proclaim DRG Neurostimulation Systems. Boston Scientific, Medtronic and Nevro offer similar devices.