HHS makes awards to mHealth vendors for at-home flu tests

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The Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with two mHealth vendors to develop devices that leverage mobile technology so that patients who test positive for influenza can receive a telemedicine consultation and, if needed, a prescription for antiviral drugs—all without leaving home.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, awarded $14 million to Cue Health and $10 million to Diassess to develop at-home diagnostic tests for the influenza A and B viruses.

“Empowering people to answer the basic question, ‘Do I have the flu?’ without leaving home could have a profound effect on controlling and treating influenza, whether it’s seasonal or a wide-spread pandemic,” said Rick Bright, director of BARDA Director. “Putting that power in patients’ hands could transform the speed and delivery of care. In a pandemic, that equates to lives saved and stronger national health security.”

According to BARDA, the devices being developed by Cue Health and Diassess may include the capability to report de-identified influenza data in real time to local health departments, giving them early warning of possible outbreaks or pandemics while safeguarding patient privacy.

“The Diassess testing device would be disposable and battery-powered for use in the field where resources may be limited during public health emergencies,” states the agency. “Cue Health also is developing its device to test for other viruses, including Zika and HIV.”

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“BARDA’s expertise in the development of advanced medical technologies will be a great asset to Cue as we spearhead a new approach to dealing with the persistent threats of influenza and other respiratory pathogens,” said Ayub Khattak, CEO of Cue Health.

The agency’s agreement with Cue Health can be extended for up to a total of $30 million over 60 months, while the agreement with Diassess can be extended for up to a total of $21.9 million over 60 months.

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