A smartphone program called Floodlight Open potentially could be beneficial in monitoring areas of functionality in individuals living with multiple sclerosis (MS). However, additional research is necessary to enhance patient adherence to utilizing the app in a real-world environment, according to a recent investigation.
The study, “Utilization of smartphone-based remote assessments of multiple sclerosis in Floodlight Open, a global, prospective, open-access study,” was featured in Scientific Reports. It was financially supported by Roche, the developer of the Floodlight App.
Researchers trialed Floodlight Open’s use among over 1,000 MS patients and an additional 1,000-plus healthy individuals to evaluate its practicality in monitoring various functional domains, such as cognition, gait, and hand and motor abilities. They discovered that despite people with MS being more inclined to persistently use the smartphone app compared to those without the disease, a noteworthy proportion of patients rapidly ceased using it. Overall, over a third of the study’s participants, including both individuals with MS and healthy counterparts, discontinued app usage after the initial week.
Smartphone-based apps have become a convenient and cost-effective method for frequently gathering clinical data from those with chronic conditions like MS. Floodlight Open utilizes a variety of smartphone sensor-based assessments to remotely measure functional domains typically impacted in MS, such as cognition, hand and motor function, gait, and postural stability. A proof-of-concept trial displayed that the app reliably assessed these domains in MS patients, with results that correlated well with standard clinical tests.
The Floodlight Open study was designed to gain a deeper understanding of the app’s usage among a global study population. To best simulate a real-world setting, enrollment and participation were completely self-driven, with no clinic visits or clinician oversight, and no set study duration.
The researchers noted that persistence was more prominent among MS patients who continued using the app beyond the first week of the study. App persistence gradually declined over time, in alignment with previous studies of digital assessment tools, and participants often took extended breaks from utilizing the smartphone app before resuming its use.
Older age and MS disease status were linked to greater persistence with the Floodlight Open app. In general, MS participants performed less favorably on active functional tests compared to healthy individuals, confirming Floodlight’s ability to distinguish the MS disease state.
In conclusion, the researchers suggest the potential need to connect the app’s use directly with clinical care to better motivate users to continue using the digital tool. They also emphasize that the support from healthcare providers and researchers will be crucial for the widespread adoption of these digital tools. Information from the Floodlight Open study has been made publicly accessible to researchers worldwide for further study of digital assessment tools in MS.