Profile: Bambang Parmanto & Anne Germain, Rehat

both of the interviewees

Bambang Parmanto
Professor of Health Information Management; Co-Director, RERC on Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Access. University of Pittsburgh
Co-Founder, Rehat

Anne Germain
Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science; Director, Military Sleep tactics and Resilience Research team and Director, Sleep and Behavioral Neuroscience Center, University of Pittsburgh
Co-Founder, Rehat

MOBILE HEALTH FOR BETTER SLEEP

Our company is called Rehat. We have developed and done preliminary validation of a mobile health platform called iRest that allows us to promote, provide and personalize access and delivery of evidence-based behavioral sleep medicine techniques.

IT’S NOT JUST ANOTHER APP

Our vision is to disrupt current clinical practices in behavioral and mental health. Despite a whole bunch of self-help sleep apps, right now there’s a tremendous gap in treatment of sleep disorders – and more generally sleep as a health behavior – that needs to be addressed. Sleep is as important as nutrition and physical activity, which are acknowledged pillars of health. So we’re starting with behavioral sleep medicine. Part of our vision is that behavioral medicine can follow patients everywhere as they go about their daily lives.

BLENDING

Consumer technology progresses faster than almost everything else. Healthcare, however, is a complex process. Our goal for the company is to use advances on the consumer technology side and then extend and amplify them to make evidence-based health service delivery much more accessible and efficient than it currently is.

We met about 5 years ago. The clinical team had been working on adaptation and expansion of clinical materials for behavioral sleep interventions, and the technology group on mobile health platform, machine learning and other algorithms. We very quickly recognized that we should combine forces to streamline behavioral sleep treatment with digital technology. Using our own time and internal resources, we eventually came up with something we think is very promising.

SHARED PURPOSE

Our skill sets are complimentary. We have very different backgrounds and very different areas of expertise, but we also have a common goal. That drives us to merge into each other’s culture to understand each other’s processes, methods, and techniques. Innovations are born out of common understanding of needs, constraints, challenges and opportunities. Innovation requires collaboration of all parties – patients, clinicians, IT specialists, even the healthcare system – from the get-go.

MOBILE HEALTH IT IS TRANSFORMING MEDICINE

One barrier to effective collaboration is that engineers like jumping into interesting problems, but clinical progress requires patience. On the clinician side, changing clinical practice through integration of technology requires quite a bit of tolerance to change. It’s not just apps; it’s a much richer process: iREST is a platform that actually changes clinical workflow and how healthcare is delivered. Mobile Health IT will ultimately serve patients better, decrease costs, improve efficiency and improve clinical outcomes as well.

The traditional patient-doctor relationship is changing. We are seeing now the first generation of clinicians who are adding mobile health and other Health IT into their practice. This wave is going to grow to the point where using Health IT is the best practice.

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