A new remote patient monitoring system, Video Directly Observed Therapy (VDOT), allows TB patients allows to video record themselves taking their daily medications on smartphones and send the videos to health departments. This communication allows providers to remotely monitor and document each dose of medication, ultimately improving compliance with the prescribed treatment regimen. VDOT replaces in-person monitoring often required in TB cases.

The system is already in use by the San Diego County TB Control Program and should be rolled out by health departments in San Francisco and New York City soon, according to the Verizon Foundation, one of the project’s sponsors. Verizon provided funding and technology for UC-San Diego to scale up its prototype VDOT app, which was designed to serve single health departments. The upgraded version, VDOT 2.0, uses Verizon’s HIPAA-enabled cloud solution and makes it possible for multiple health departments to use VDOT simultaneously to monitor TB treatment for thousands of patients. Verizon will also provide 300 smartphones that will be distributed to patients at the first three VDOT 2.0 launch sites.

A 2012 National Institutes of Health-funded pilot of VDOT in San Diego and Tijuana found that more than 93% of prescribed doses were observed using videos made and sent by the patients, and 100% of the patients said they would recommend VDOT to other TB patients, according to a Verizon Foundation press release. The pilot also demonstrated reduced transportation and staffing costs.

“MHealth applications like VDOT can be game-changers when it comes to accelerating the pace of TB control and eradication,” said Richard S. Garfein, PhD, MPH, who led the research team. “VDOT significantly reduces the cost and personnel burden of monitoring patient-treatment adherence, allowing healthcare providers to concentrate their limited resources on the patients with the greatest adherence needs.”