Abbott Earns FDA Approval for iOS App to Manage Personalized Neuromodulation Therapy

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by David Melamed, PhD |

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new app developed by Abbott, called the Patient Controller app, which will allow patients with chronic neurological conditions to manage personalized therapy regimens using compatible smartphones.

The Patient Controller app, which is compatible with Apple’s operating system iOS, synchronizes with Abbott’s NeuroSphere Digital Care, a platform designed to coordinate therapies that involve neuromodulation technology.

Neuromodulation is a therapeutic process in which nerves are directly altered via electrical or chemical stimulation.

Abbott currently offers three neuromodulation therapy systems: Infinity DBS for patients with Parkinson’s disease or essential tremorProclaim XR SCS for patients with chronic pain; and Proclaim DRG Neurostimulation for patients with lower limb pain caused by complex regional pain syndrome or causalgia.

For patients with Parkinson’s, the Infinity DBS system provides a therapeutic technique called deep brain stimulation, in which an electrical impulse is fired at targeted neurons to counteract involuntary motor symptoms, such as tremors.

The Patient Controller app eliminates the need for a separate device to program the therapies offered by these systems, allowing a greater integration of these treatments into a patient’s daily life.

“The approval of Abbott’s Patient Controller app with personalized access to therapy is a landmark event, as we are now able to provide patients a way to access personalized therapy from a compatible and secure iOS device so that people can live their lives and seamlessly manage conditions like chronic pain and movement disorders,” Keith Boettiger, vice president of neuromodulation at Abbott, said in a  press release.

The app features an easy-to-use interface that can incorporate FaceTime calling on iOS devices, allowing patients to control not only the neuromodulation therapy, but also communicate with their healthcare provider in real time.

This capability is particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, as neuromodulation requires close monitoring of patient progress, and any technology that facilitates remote treatment is invaluable in reducing the risk of viral transmission.

“For physicians who are prescribing and implanting neuromodulation technologies, the ability to integrate therapies into one’s everyday life is key,” said Alexander Escobar, MD, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Toledo, Ohio.

“The COVID-19 global health crisis has demanded access to virtual treatment options, especially for those individuals with chronic medical conditions that may have difficulty coming to see their physician or would prefer not to leave their own home. To ensure our patients are receiving the care they need in the appropriate setting, close follow up is critical,” Escobar said. “Physicians have the ability to remain engaged with their patients through the Apple device, allowing them to interact and treat debilitating chronic pain.”

Furthermore, as patients with Parkinson’s and other chronic conditions may have limited mobility, the Program Controller app offers greater accessibility to treatment.

“The ability to support the changing needs of individuals living with debilitating chronic conditions, like Parkinson’s, without them having to leave their homes is vitally important in today’s world,” said Drew Falconer, MD, director of the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders Center in the Inova Health System in Virginia.

“Abbott’s NeuroSphere Digital Care solution, including the new Patient Controller app, allows patients to handle one single device and using the FaceTime application, interact with their provider teams in a convenient, easy-to-use interface — an important attribute for those with tremors or have challenges with mobility,” Falconer said.

Abbott said the app will be available in a few weeks. You can visit this website to learn which Apple mobile digital devices are compatible with the app.