Klick Labs Debuts First Device to Record and Transmit Parkinson’s Tremors; Highlights Link between Clinical Empathy and Improved Patient Outcomes

Digital healthcare innovator reveals how simulators, Virtual Reality,
and other experiential technology

can recreate disease symptoms to put physicians and caregivers in
patients’ shoes

TORONTO & NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Klick Labs, a digital healthcare innovation lab, today introduced the
SymPulseTM Tele-Empathy Device, a groundbreaking Proof of
Concept that wirelessly records and transmits patient tremors in real
time to help foster clinical empathy and better care for the more than
40 million people living with movement disorders in the U.S. alone.
Today’s announcement underscores the innovation lab’s exploration of
several applications and platforms to induce more empathy for patients
across many disease states.

Unlike other inventions that attempt to replicate tremors via mechanical
vibrations, Klick Labs’ SymPulseTM Tele-Empathy Device
records continuous electromyogram data from the patient and wirelessly
transmits it via Bluetooth to a custom-engineered electrical muscle
stimulation armband for non-patients. The patent-pending, experiential
device induces involuntary muscle activity, which mimics patient tremors
in real time, and enables physicians and family members to experience
the difficulties of seemingly simple tasks, such as buttoning a shirt or
using a mobile phone.

“We are extremely encouraged about our work in technology-mediated
symptom transference, which we call tele-empathy, to help make
healthcare more patient-centric,” said Yan Fossat, VP, Klick Labs. “The
SymPulseTM Tele-Empathy Device records and transmits patient
tremors as data to give movement disorder physicians and caregivers a
sense of what their patient or loved one is experiencing in real time.”

Importance of Empathy

According to Dr. Jodi Halpern, Professor of Bioethics and Medical
Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley, “Skillful use of
clinical empathy is essential for all three major aspects of effective
medical care: accurate diagnosis, treatment adherence, and patient
activation…We need innovative approaches to inculcate empathy in
physicians, including exciting new interactive technologies that enable
people to experience other people’s symptoms,” said Halpern, author of From
Detached Concern to Empathy: Humanizing Medical Practice
, (Oxford
University Press, 2011).

Dr. Helen Riess, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical
School and Founder of Empathetics, Inc., said, “Improving clinical
empathy should be at the forefront of institutional missions and
interventions are needed to achieve these critical healthcare goals.” A
randomized controlled trial led by Dr. Riess found that, initially, 53%
of physicians reported declining levels of patient empathy for several
years; whereas only 33% reported increasing levels. The study, published
in the Journal of General Internal Medicine in May 2012, also
found that clinical empathy can be taught and can raise patient ratings
of their healthcare.

Beyond Empathy

Registered Physiotherapist Naomi Casiro believes symptom transmission
offers benefits beyond just that of increased empathy. The Vancouver,
BC-based clinician who only treats patients affected by Parkinson’s
disease, said, “I can use my clinical expertise to analyze movement
patterns and try to improve the patient’s capacity to perform daily
motor tasks, such as buttoning a shirt or putting on a jacket. However,
if I could combine these clinical skills with the experience of actually
feeling how the patient moves, my ability to assess the movement
challenges and problem-solve the solution would be amplified.”

Video: Man experiences identical twin brother’s Parkinson’s tremors
for first time

As part of the device’s debut, video footage was released of 43-year-old
early onset Parkinson’s patient Jim Smerdon wirelessly transmitting his
tremors to his wife and identical twin brother Pat. “It’s the first time
I’ve ever seen my tremors in someone else,” Smerdon said. “I want
everyone to be able to feel that…Nurses and neurosurgeons could
experience (my tremors)…I think it will be a real game changer for them.”

To view the video, please go to klick.com/sympulse.

Future Uses: Other disease symptoms, telemedicine and more

Fossat said future versions, which use the Internet for remote
transmission of symptoms, could be used for telemedicine. “We envision
patients being able to transmit their tremors to physicians anywhere in
the world to get more accurate diagnoses and better treatment,” he

The implications of tele-empathy extend beyond the manipulation of
muscle activity. Other types of disease and condition symptoms can be
quantified and digitized using wearables with sensors that measure
everything from the glucose level of someone’s tears to air flow and
blood oxygen saturation levels. As a result, Klick Labs is also
exploring symptom transference for diabetes and chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease (COPD).

With vast expertise creating Virtual Reality (VR) experiences for the
healthcare industry, the company also believes VR can be used to create
clinical empathy. “We can leverage VR to bypass proprioception and
simulate a particular gait of a patient with diabetic neuropathy or
multiple sclerosis and virtually put other people in that patient’s
shoes,” Fossat added.

According to the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, of the 10 million
people living with the disease around the world, about 60,000 Americans
are diagnosed each year, not including thousands of cases that go
undetected. In 2005, the Foundation estimated
that more than 40 million Americans (nearly one in seven people) were
affected by a movement disorder, including tremor, Parkinson’s,
Tourette’s syndrome, dystonia, and spasticity.

For more information on the SymPulseTM Tele-Empathy Device
and Klick Labs’ expertise in tele-empathy, contact labs@klick.com.

About Klick Labs

Klick Labs is a digital innovation lab, established by Klick Health, to
help life science organizations advance healthcare through the
application of emerging concepts and technologies. Klick Labs offers a
full range of innovation services, including primary research, ideation,
design, prototyping and in-market validation under a Lab as a Service
(LaaS) model. Klick Labs is distinguished by its mandate to bring true
digital health innovation to market and ‘connect the dots’ between life
science and technology industry leaders, disruptive start ups, medical
researchers, healthcare professionals, and patients. Its unique approach
is enabled through its trans-disciplinary team that includes creative
technologists, data scientists, behavioral
scientists, electrical engineers, application developers, experience
designers, and medical experts. Key areas of focus include digital
medicine and physiology, machine learning, mixed reality, natural
language processing, and robotics.

is one of the world’s largest independent health marketing
and commercialization agencies. Klick is laser-focused on creating
solutions that engage and educate healthcare providers about life-saving
treatments and help inform and empower patients to manage their health
and play a central role in their own care. Every solution hinges on
Klick’s in-house expertise across the commercial universe—strategy,
creative, analytics, instructional design, user experience, relationship
marketing, social and mobile. Part of the Klick
family of companies
, the company was established in 1997 and
has teams in Atlanta, Connecticut, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey, New
York, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, and Toronto. Klick has
been recognized for having one of the top 10 intranets in the world and
has been consistently named a Great Place to Work, Best Workplace for
Women, Best Employer, Fastest Growing Technology Company, and Best
Managed Company. For more information on Klick Labs, go to Klick.com.
Follow Klick on Twitter @KlickHealth.


Klick Health
Sheryl Steinberg, 877-885-9957 ext. 2412
Melissa Sheridan, 415 609 6875