Merck’s latest digital diabetes coach aims to fill education and support gaps

Merck & Co. expands its collaboration with Health Interactions with the launch of a new digital and mobile diabetes platform. (Merck)

Merck & Co.'s new platform for diabetes patients is part coach, part community and all digital. Called Map4health, the digital and mobile platform—created with partner Healthy Interactions—is meant to help patients connect with healthcare providers for education and support in between in-person visits.

Type 2 diabetes patients can use Map4health to ask questions and discuss their conditions, via text and video chat. The platform also includes goal-setting and tracking functions to help patients keep on track. Merck has worked with Healthy Interactions on diabetes management programs since 2007.

The new platform also works in conjunction with existing self-management education and support (DSMES) programs, including Merck's own Journey for Control, a company spokesman explained via email. The platform backs Merck’s ambitious goals in diabetes—the Januvia-maker won FDA approval last December for a new SGLT2 drug, in partnership with Pfizer—and expands its collaboration with Healthy Interactions.

“The growing problem of diabetes is one of our top therapeutic priorities,” he said, adding that Map4health “is an evolution of the companies’ 11-year collaboration aimed to better equip health educators to deliver improved patient support and education for patients living with diabetes.”

RELATED: 'Alexa, help manage my diabetes.' That's what Merck and its contest finalists envision for the Amazon platform

Merck and Healthy Interactions will target physicians for help getting the word out about Map4health.

“We believe that the optimal patient identification and patient activation is achieved through healthcare professionals. Patients trust their HCP. Our model both leverages and enhances the relationship and trust between a patient and their HCP,” said Healthy Interactions Founder and CEO Paul Lasiuk in an email.