Patient Empowerment through health apps

Last month we attended in Barcelona the Mobile World Congress (MWC), the biggest mobile technology conference in the world. In the last years health has become an important part of the event as more technological companies are entering the healthcare sector. Within MWC, the Digital Health Summit organised by ECHAlliance gathered numerous entrepreneurs in the field of digital health and showcased interesting solutions for patients and organisations.

Here are some of the key points we learned:

The solutions with more potential are based on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. The health industry is awash with data that can be structured and analysed with the goal to extract knowledge from it. This knowledge can make healthcare systems more efficient and patient-centric.

At the conference we saw some solutions working in this direction, for example, IOMED , a software created by a group of entrepreneurs from Barcelona that structures and codifies notes from EHRs and transforms them into useful insights. The system is currently available in Spanish and Catalan and is being used in Barcelona Vall d’Hebron Hospital.

Another app that is building key insights from data given by the users is LactApp, which works as a virtual breastfeeding consultant that gives personalised advice to mums in the first months of the baby.

The founder of Universal Doctor, Dr. Jordi Serrano, presented Universal.Health, a platform that will allow entrepreneurs to create their own solutions to empower patients using cutting edge technologies, including AI. The project is still at an early stage, said Serrano.

Virtual and Augmented Reality are showing great potential too. As well as a powerful tool to treat people with mental health problems, VR and AR are great for education and training, and it will impact in the way we do research, as Kumar Jacob, CEO of Mindwave Ventures, explained in his presentation.

How to choose a good health app?

But not all health applications can be trusted. As patients, we can choose between thousands of apps to help us manage our condition. A recent study done by Foundation ISYS  pointed that there are around 165,000 health apps in the Apple and Google stores. Before choosing a health app we should take into account:

  • The name of the author has to be clear and visible
  • Sources and references should be included in the app
  • Medical professionals AND patients have to be involved in the creation of the app
  • It shouldn’t ask for data that is not relevant to the focus of the application
  • Having a great number of downloads means that patients find it useful

With this in mind, and with the help of a healthcare professional that we trust, we can start using apps in our disease journey.

*Teresa Bau, Communications Director at Patient Empowerment Foundation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *