Inflammatory Bowel Disease

In 2015, it was estimated that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) affected over 3 million individuals in the United States, resulting more than $6 billion in associated healthcare-related costs. The prevalence of IBD is increasing annually, with averages estimates at approximately 5%. IBD can lead to serious complications like colorectal cancer and is poised to have a substantial impact on an individual’s quality of life, and the resources required by a healthcare system to treat IBD and its related comorbidities . At the Centre for SMART Health, we’re using wearable devices and smart form  questionnaires to better track IBD patients’ fatigue and activity levels after GI-related interventions. Looking at patients with active and inactive inflammatory bowel disease, we are correlating disease activity to physiologic, behavioral, serologic, and microbiome data longitudinally to develop and deploy non-invasive tools to track disease activity.  This data is allowing us to better identify new and ongoing symptoms, and helps clinicians identify ways to improve post-GI-related procedure care.

Understanding Obesity

The prevalence of obesity and its consequent comorbidities continues to rise globally. Markedly, in the United States it is a major cause of preventable chronic disease and thus a source of significant healthcare costs. mHealth technologies have the potential to promote healthier behaviors in individuals, including improvements in diet and exercise. This project is an exploratory study using wearable technologies as an adjunct to an existing weight loss intervention trial, combining cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with a gut-targeted (hypocaloric) diet. We are investigating if wearable technologies can enhance adherence to treatment, providing a low-cost and unobtrusive means to improve and maintain weight loss outcomes. Insights from this effort will help us better understand the strengths and weaknesses of mHealth to train individuals over time, and its potential for helping people prevent obesity

Improving Colon Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most common cause of cancer-related mortality, killing over 50,000 Americans each year – a number that is unwarranted as it many of these cases are preventable via screening and surveillance of high-risk abnormalities. For instance, many people with high-risk polyps that are detected during initial colonoscopies fail to follow-up in a timely manner.  Often such findings are not fully documented and/or issues exist with inconsistencies in reporting, making it challenging to definitively know which patients need to come back and when. Working with investigators in the Division of Digestive Diseases, the Center for SMART Health is helping to identify these individuals at UCLA through automated natural language processing (NLP) tools, looking to merge colonoscopy and pathology report observations in the electronic health record (EHR) into a comprehensive picture that can then be used to guide follow-up recommendations.