A sample of Vida Health and AstraZeneca's Day-by-Day app.
Courtesy of Vida Health
By Laura Lorenzetti
July 14, 2015

Vida Health and AstraZeneca have teamed up to launch a new app for recovering heart attack patients that should help people recover faster from and better cope with the trauma associated with such life-threatening experiences.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. Every year, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack, and more than a quarter of those patients suffer from repeat attacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Heart disease is caused by several hereditary and lifestyle factors, and recovery from the first attack requires ongoing support to help prevent a second one. That’s where Vida Health and AstraZeneca’s Day-By-Day app comes into play.

The app, which is launching through a trial program at Duke University, is a HIPAA-compliant smartphone application that will walk patients step-by-step through the recovery process using live digital coaches and educational materials, like videos, articles, and food journals, to help patients implement lifestyle changes and adhere to their new drug regimen. It’s an extension of Vida Health’s current cloud-based smartphone app, which provides personal health coaching services on both Android and iOS devices for a range of chronic conditions.

“We’ve already seen that we’ve improved outcomes and lowered costs for other needs: Seven out of eight people lose weight using Vida Health,” said Stephanie Tilenius, CEO of Vida Health, who will speak Tuesday at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech roundtable on the state of digital health. “We see ourselves as a platform that cuts across multiple channels to engage chronic care patients, and our partnership with AstraZeneca is an extension of that model.”

After a heart attack, patients are often given a list of changes they need to make in order to prevent a second attack. (People who have had an attack are at a much higher risk for another one.) At the same time, these people are also experiencing a range of challenging emotions, from anxiety to depression to information overload. It’s a period where hands-on rehabilitation can make a significant difference, helping patients understand what medications to take when, how to change their eating habits or quit smoking, and how to slowly develop an exercise routine.

Sticking to a new medication regimen is a core concern for heart attack patients. Poor adherence to drug regimens generally causes about 33% to 69% of medication-related hospitalizations and accounts for $100 billion in annual health care costs, according to a 2005 study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The app will also help AstraZeneca interact with patients “beyond the pill.” The app is unbranded, meaning users won’t see the pharmaceutical company’s name anywhere on the service, and it has been designed to focus on the patient, regardless of exactly what company’s drugs they have been prescribed.

“The science is the core of our business, but patients today are expecting more,” said John McCarthy, vice president of global commercial excellence at AstraZeneca. “We see that taking advantage of technology alongside the power of science is the best thing for patients. It’s about extending the customer experience.”

AstraZeneca (AZN) will be covering the cost for all users participating in the program. The effort will give the pharmaceutical company a better idea of how they can engage with consumers beyond their daily dosages, as well as give the firm insight into how patients are using daily medications during recovery.

“We are focusing on patient problems while working within the pharmaceutical business that we fit within,” he said. “It allows us to have a greater impact across an institution that’s looking to address all of their patient population.”

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