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How Alternova is democratising digital health development

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Interview with Maria Clara Mesa, Chief Operating Officer, Alternova.

Digital health has the power to revolutionise healthcare, Alternova Chief Operating Officer Maria Clara Mesa believes, not only by making the patient experience easier and more engaging, but also by democratising access to care worldwide, ensuring that no one is left out. 

It's why San Francisco-based tech company Alternova seeks to empower people to assume greater control of their health simply through their daily interactions with consumer devices.

In a video interview with Omnia Health Insights (below), Mesa explained that many healthcare businesses were unsure of how to integrate technology or implement digital transformation in their organisation. Developing digital health solutions is furthermore seen by some as risky and expensive. 


To remedy this, Alternova in partnership with Stanford Biodesign is offering an open source framework, CardinalKit, that “democratises” the development of digital health solutions and applications.

Currently an iOS platform with Android to come, CardinalKit may be used by developers, startups and physicians to accelerate rapid prototyping of digital health applications by collecting mobile and wearable healthcare data that is then displayed on an interface. Ensuring the privacy of this data is paramount, and in this regard CardinalKit is also compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the US, which sets the standard for sensitive patient data protection. 

This allows solutions to be developed more cheaply and quickly, Mesa explained, including consumer-facing applications. She offered an example in the area of mental health: video games in particular have the potential to collect data on how a patient’s brain works, derived from the end user’s interactions, and implement changes that “reshape” the brain, resulting in better mental health. 

These video game applications may even replace pharmaceutical products, especially for children, Mesa continued. “Instead of a [pharmaceutical] formula for all patients for anxiety or ADHD, patients will have a personalised medicine in their pocket that is designed for the patient,” she said. “Scientists are trying to figure out how to arrive at a personalised experience that will modify a patient’s brain, allowing them to live better with anxiety or depression.”

Looking further ahead, Mesa is excited by digital health’s potential in the coming years, with patient-centred models, AI and cheaper wearables all combining to fuel its growth. “Tools to hack your health is where healthcare is going,” she concluded. “Health is the new social.”

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