If you live with rheumatoid arthritis, you probably have a device in your pocket that can help make daily life that little bit easier. Smartphones have become powerful tools for people living with chronic diseases and can help you track symptoms, stay on top of your treatment, and connect you do other people from around the globe to share support, wisdom, and advice. Here are 3 apps that can help anyone living with rheumatoid arthritis.
For Symptom Tracking: ArthritisPower
ArthritisPower is an app that combines health tracking on an individual level with patient-centric research. It is an example of how modern technology can be used to generate insightful data like never before.
By using the app, you can assess aspects such as pain interference, physical function, sleep disturbance, and fatigue, along with the medications you are taking. Aside from people living with rheumatoid arthritis, it is designed for those living with osteoarthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, lupus, and other rheumatic conditions.
Tracking your health over time allows you to identify trends and patterns that can help you and your doctor gain a better understanding of your treatment.
What sets ArthritisPower apart from other health trackers is that the data generated is used for research purposes. Aside from regular health assessments, you may be invited to participate in research studies. For example, users taking a specific medication might be asked about fatigue levels, or every user might be asked about their attitude towards medical marijuana.
The team behind ArthritisPower, CreakyJoints, also calls on members of its online community to participate in these studies.
A recent example of the insight gained by such studies is a report that three-quarters of rheumatoid arthritis patients are dissatisfied with their treatment, a number that came as a surprise to rheumatologists interviewed by Everyday Health. Having a greater understanding of the difficulties faced by real people living with chronic diseases can help shape the nature of research and development.
If you do decide to sign up to the ArthritisPower registry, you do need to agree to a lengthy consent form. It is worth reading this carefully, so you fully understand what you are agreeing to regarding your data. If you are comfortable sharing your data, you can benefit from a health tracker designed specifically for people living with rheumatic disease, as well as helping generate data that can be extremely useful for researchers.
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For Medication & Activity Reminders: MyTherapy
Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis is rarely simple, often involving a variety of medications along with supportive treatment such as physiotherapy.
Our app, MyTherapy, is designed to provide reliable medication and activity reminders, regardless of how complicated your regimen is. You can find your specific medication from over 30 national databases, some of which support barcode recognition to speed the process up.
Reminders can then be scheduled to suit your specific requirements, be it at the same time each day, multiple times per day, or specific criteria such as a certain number of time or days between doses. Activity reminders can be set up in much the same way.
Medication adherence – the percentage of medications taken exactly as intended – is estimated to be between 30% and 80% in people living with rheumatoid arthritis. Although the upper end of this scale is around the percentage often considered adequate for medication to be effective, at the lower end it represents a serious problem (one that exists regarding treatment for practically every chronic condition).
Although the reasons for nonadherence are varied and complex, MyTherapy was designed to tackle at least one of the major causes: forgetfulness. Given how smartphones are becoming ever more ubiquitous in modern society, having them deliver reminders that can be tailored to your individual needs is simple yet powerful. What’s more, by confirming you have taken your medication, you can double-check that you have done so should you be unsure later in the day.
You can also use MyTherapy to record measurements (such as blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc.) and perform symptom and wellbeing checks. All of the information you enter can be used to create a health report you can have emailed to you, or be viewed in the ‘Progress’ screen, which has recently been redeveloped to be more customizable and visually accessible.
For Support & Social Media: myRAteam
ArthritisPower and MyTherapy cover many of the practical sides of living with rheumatoid arthritis, such as symptom tracking and medication reminders.
However, apps can also be used to help with the emotional side. MyHealthTeams is a San Francisco-based company that creates social networks for people living with specific conditions.
They have platforms for over 30 different chronic illnesses, including rheumatoid arthritis. Upon registration, which you can do with your email address or Facebook credentials, you will be asked the month of birth (you must be at least 18 years old to use the app) and location. You are limited to cities in 13 (mostly English-speaking) countries, so if you are from or living elsewhere, you will need to choose somewhere that is supported. This reflects the rule that content must be posted in English.
In the registration process, you can also select whether you have rheumatoid arthritis yourself, if you are the parent of a child with juvenile RA, or have a spouse with the condition. Once you start using the app, you can find and be found by other people who answer likewise. Similarly, you can find users based on symptoms, treatments, and other criteria such as age.
The actual social media interface is pretty much what you would expect, with a news feed and ability to share updates. You can connect with other users and add them to your ‘team’.
The community, like others in MyHealthTeam’s portfolio, are active and supportive. Although such groups exist on other social media platforms such as Facebook, having an entire platform dedicated to specific diseases is a formula that seems to be working, helped along by the app being well designed and easy to use.
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