There's an App for That: RA Patients Receive Smartphone Health-Diary

An application for smartphones has been developed that will help patients and their doctors keep track of their rheumatoid arthritis.

It is estimated that 1% of adults in the population of the world lives with debilitating Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA); roughly 1.3 million people in the United States and about 45,000 people in Singapore suffer from the disease and require intensive medical care and attention.

Now, there’s an app for that.

A smartphone application was created and launched yesterday (March 22nd, 2011) to help patients who suffer from RA keep track of their symptoms and manage their condition. Singapore Health Services and Singapore General Hospital collaborated with the Integrated Health Information Systems to achieve this goal. Mr. Benedict Tan, Group Chief Information Officer of Singapore Health Services, stated “by providing patients with these applications, we hope to empower and encourage them to play a more active role in managing their condition.”

The application itself is a combination of a diary and personal pocket-sized doctor in one. It is user friendly, so that anyone can understand it and not just a medical practitioner; the app records information that is inputted concerning the affected joints of the patient, their medication intake, and lab results. This information can be very helpful to the patient and doctor who wish to monitor the progression of the disease or how effective certain drugs are. Side effects of medication and persistent pain can also be monitored on the application.

This application can also be used as an electronic organizer for caregivers of patients with RA, especially if there are multiple caregivers who are not always present to observe the condition of the patient; using this application, the caregivers can be aware of the state of the patient even when they are not around.

Recording such aspects of the disease can not only give both patient and doctor an idea of how the condition is progressing, it can also facilitate open dialog between patient and doctor. The patient, knowing more about their condition, may ask more questions or provide information more openly than they may have without the application.

Singapore Health Services is aware of the versatility of this technology for other disease and conditions that require constant monitoring. “We are currently working closely with Integrated Health Information Systems to create new health diary applications for the management of other chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and renal disease for patients on peritoneal dialysis, or who have undergone transplants,” said Tan.

The smartphone health-diary app for RA is available for free at https://mobilecare.sgh.com.sg