Health Startup Launches Epilepsy Software

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Stephen Downs founded Digital Health Solutions. (photo courtesy of Indiana University) Stephen Downs founded Digital Health Solutions. (photo courtesy of Indiana University)
INDIANAPOLIS -

An Indianapolis-based health tech startup has launched its software platform. Digital Health Solutions LLC says the software will help physicians determine pediatric patients’ risk of sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, or SUDEP, during routine primary care visits.

The company was founded by Indiana University School of Medicine researcher-entrepreneur Stephen Downs. The software is part of the company's Child Health Improvement through Computer Automation, or CHICA, system. It allows families to answer questions on an electronic tablet about various health topics, including epileptic seizures.

"For children who have seizures, CHICA asks follow-up questions about frequency, medication adherence and barriers to accessing care," said Downs, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine. "The program shares this information with the physician. It also makes a reminder, through the patient's electronic health record, for the physician to discuss SUDEP with the family. The physician can document discussing SUDEP and provide computer-generated educational materials."

The software module was tested at Eskenazi Health clinics for two months. Downs says prior to the testing, 75 families of children with an epilepsy diagnosis were interviewed and 22 percent reported that their physician had discussed SUDEP with them, but 28 percent had never heard of it.

"When we tested the SUDEP module, more than 2,300 children were screened for epilepsy, and 1.3 percent of families reported that patients were affected by epilepsy. Forty-seven percent of those patients had a seizure within the previous 12 months, which made them a high risk for SUDEP," Downs said. "Physicians reported counseling in 61 percent of those cases and referred families to a neurologist in 16 percent of those cases. They also counseled on medication adherence in 11 percent of the cases."

Downs says having physicians advise families about SUDEP has been more effective than any other effort to date. 

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