French companies LNC and SlowControl are developing the first post-operative treatment solution which incorporates a connected object for patients who have undergone bariatric surgery.
L'Atelier: What made you want to use a connected device for monitoring patients suffering from obesity?
Jean-Luc Treillou: LNC has developed an integrated treatment solution for obese patients who have undergone bariatric surgery. The treatment combines nutritional products with a range of services such as a patient-to-patient web community, plus monitoring and motivational apps and the first ‘serious game’ designed to provide support to patients over a two-year period. We’re now hoping to offer a second version of this solution, which incorporates connected devices such as the digital connected fork developed by SlowControl. We believe this tool has real value, a real physio-pathological logic when used as part of structured therapy. The ‘HAPIfork’ not only provides a means to quantify how fast the patient is eating, but it also interacts with the patient, monitoring his/her eating habits and offering advice on how s/he might change them.
Jacques Lépine: We’ve known for a long time that bariatric surgery has an important role to play in getting obese people to eat less. Obesity has now been listed by the World Health Organisation among its priority health issues, and it’s actually a growing problem, in terms of both the cost to public health systems and loss of human life. While traditional treatment providers – doctors and the pharmaceutical industry – have ways to treat the symptoms, it’s far more difficult to change people’s acquired habits and make the change stick over a long period of time. In fact we’ve seen that in the two years following an operation, many patients suffering from obesity don’t manage to follow the required regime and start to develop pathological symptoms all over again. SlowControl’s objective is therefore precisely to provide that longer-term support, making use of an everyday, standard instrument – the fork – so as to ensure that a patient’s treatment isn’t nullified by bad eating habits.
What exactly is SlowControl contributing to patient treatment?
Jean-Luc Treillou: The digital fork could prove to be an excellent complement to a patient’s treatment. As Jacques Lépine says, what we’re trying to do is incorporate into the process – whether we’re talking about prevention or post-operative treatment – an object that is not just a medical instrument but a tool that’s part of the patients’ everyday lives. This digital fork can be used in both a quantitative and qualitative way. The patient always has it with him/her at mealtimes, so it’s a practical tool but it also serves to remind the patient of the importance of his/her attitudes to food as part of the overall success of the treatment. In fact the ‘HAPIfork’ is designed to interact with other monitoring and support apps so as to build up an overall system of treatment and monitoring around the patient.
Jacques Lépine: This type of connected object, i.e. tools that are used on an everyday basis, can easily be integrated into a treatment programme. Our ‘HAPIfork’ enables you to monitor what foods are eaten and when. This information then for example feeds into a ‘serious game’ designed to coach the patient and check that s/he’s sticking to the newly prescribed eating behaviour. As a connected object, it can record and send a variety of data, especially when it comes to chrononutrition – i.e. eating in line with your biological clock – and so this also means you can incorporate a whole series of monitoring software.
Do you think that this kind of programme could be the future for medical treatment?
Jean-Luc Treillou: In conjunction with SlowControl we’ve developed the very first treatment programme which incorporates connected objects for monitoring post-operative patients.
As the incidence of obesity, diabetes and other chronic illnesses grows, these kinds of tools could prove to be particularly useful in improving the quality of life of patients suffering from chronic conditions, by enabling both the doctor and the patient to monitor the progress achieved and/or any patient habits that are problematic and need to change.
Jacques Lépine: Connected objects can serve as a complement to medical treatment. It’s a fact that medical practitioners seem fairly powerless to deal with the high failure rates of bariatric surgery. Medicines can be used to treat a patient, but connected objects have the potential to be a major prevention factor. We’re now in a world where doctors are just not physically able to provide every patient with individual treatment, follow-up and care but perhaps there’s something we should be doing on the preventative front. Perhaps long term we ought to be integrating connected objects into upstream prevention rather than post-operative care.