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Father, Daughter Share Focus

Posted: July 19, 2019

Technology Keeps Patients on Track

Technology and medicine are working hand-in-hand at NorthBay Healthcare to help heart failure patients avoid readmissions. Just ask cardiologist Milind Dhond, M.D., and his daughter, Maya.

Maya, a Davis High School junior, and Aedan Enriquez, a freshman at U.C. Berkeley, were both involved in research projects at NorthBay over the summer and winter breaks that showed the success of a pilot project involving 30 patients using a new digitally based monitoring system called Kencor for patients with congestive heart failure.

“Maya collected all of the data and analyzed it and I was amazed. It looked like there was a big reduction in readmissions so I told her to do what is called a T-test, to look at the statistics,” Dr. Dhond said. “She did all of that and it showed a 40 percent reduction.”

Heart failure occurs when the heart muscle doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. Certain conditions, such as narrowed arteries in the heart (coronary artery disease) or high blood pressure, gradually leave the heart too weak or stiff to fill and pump efficiently. It is characterized by shortness of breath, fatigue and weakness, swelling of the legs, ankles and feet, and belly swelling, among other symptoms. The health care costs associated with the disease exceed $30 billion annually in the United States. Reducing readmissions is vital, cardiac experts agree.

Through Kencor, a mobile application is uploaded to a patient’s smart phone. The app is Bluetooth connected to a digital scale and blood pressure cuff. Each morning the patient opens the app on their phone, steps on the scale and takes their blood pressure. The data is collected and transmitted back to NorthBay’s heart failure clinic where caregivers can review it and reach out to the patient, if changes in their care plan are needed.

Both Maya and Aedan’s research papers were presented at the American Federation of Medical Research National meeting in Philadelphia in March and both were published in the April edition of the Journal of Investigative Medicine.

In addition, Maya accompanied her dad to the meeting and did an oral presentation that was selected as the winner of the best research abstract for the meeting.

Dr. Dhond is rightfully proud of his daughter, and supervised the research, signing on as the senior author of the paper.

“Maya collected all of the data and analyzed it and I was amazed,” he said. “But Maya is one of those people who is self-driven and that is the key to success in all of your life.”

Maya’s mother, Theresa Whitley, M.D., is a physician at the NorthBay Center for Primary Care in Vacaville, and also justly proud of her daughter’s achievement. “I am not surprised that she won that honor, as she always gives whatever it takes to do a good job,” she said.