BALTIMORE, MD. (March 12, 2020)

emocha Mobile Health has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award by the National Institute on Diabetes and Digestives and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This joint research project with the Johns Hopkins University provides $1.7 million to evaluate emocha’s medication adherence platform to improve immunosuppressive therapy adherence among kidney and liver transplant recipients.  The project will be carried out via sub-contracts with Johns Hopkins. The grant is emocha’s second “Fast-Track” award and brings emocha’s total NIH SBIR grant funding to $6 million awarded since 2015.

“Medication adherence is critical for kidney and liver transplant recipients in order to avoid debilitating and devastating consequences, which can include rejection, failure, or death,” said Sebastian Seiguer, CEO of emocha. “We are excited for the opportunity to collaborate with leaders in the field to refine our solution and expand our work with transplant centers.”

A 10-patient video pilot of Directly Observed Therapy (DOT), led by the Johns Hopkins University Epidemiology Research Group in Organ Transplantation (ERGOT), provided the preliminary data for the SBIR award. The new NIH funding will enable emocha to augment communication features requested by both patients and providers, and then systematically test the new features.  The company will continue to refine, enhance, and develop emocha’s patient engagement approaches.

Approximately 21,000 kidney and 8,250 liver transplants were completed in 2018. To facilitate successful transplantation, patients must carefully adhere to immunosuppressant (anti-rejection) medication regimens. However, clinical studies indicate that more than a quarter of kidney transplant recipients are nonadherent, with nonadherence leading to nearly two thirds of graft failure and 80 percent of episodes of late acute rejection. Among liver transplant recipients, nonadherence has been reported to range from 15 to 40 percent, leading to a 4-fold increase in episodes of late acute rejection. Episodes of rejection often require hospitalization, and in some cases retransplantation: leading to significantly impaired quality of life, and financial costs between $4,000 and $11,000 per person per year. Multiple studies indicate that DOT is the gold standard for medication adherence, and video DOT can be effectively leveraged for various chronic and infectious diseases.

“Video Directly Observed Therapy (vDOT) has been shown to achieve very high medication adherence and lower health care costs for patients with tuberculosis. Patients who have received kidney transplants must also be highly adherent to their medications designed to prevent rejection. This study is an important opportunity to evaluate whether vDOT can help transplant patients adhere to their medication regimen and improve the long-term survival of patients and their transplanted kidneys,” said Robert C. Bollinger, MD, MPH, an inventor of emocha’s technology and professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with joint appointments in the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Nursing. The technology was licensed from the Johns Hopkins University.

About emocha Mobile Health

emocha empowers patients to take every dose of medication through video technology and scalable human engagement, fusing the power of people and technology to solve the ubiquitous challenge of medication non-adherence. Patients use a smartphone application to video record themselves taking medication, while providers or emocha caregivers use a secure web portal to assess compliance and engage with patients. The platform is being used by public health departments, hospitals, health centers, and managed care organizations across the globe to radically improve medication adherence for patients with tuberculosis, opioid use disorder, hepatitis C, diabetes, and other chronic and infectious diseases. Learn more at

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestives and Kidney Disease Statement

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health under Award Number R44DK123978. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.


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