In a little over two months, Apple’s App Store will celebrate its tenth birthday, as will Android Market (now Google Play) in October. The number of apps available has gone from the hundreds to the millions, and the healthcare sector has been at the heart of this development. For people living with chronic conditions such as psoriasis, smartphones are now a valuable tool in making day-to-day life that bit easier, as well as allowing everyone to collect information and data on a previously-impossible scale. Technology also helps bring people together, allowing for the easy exchange of knowledge, wisdom, and compassion. If you are living with psoriasis, here are three apps you can download today to help you manage your condition and make the most out of your smartphone, as well as an intriguing one you can expect later this year.
Imagine: Track Psoriasis with Photos
Imagine is an intuitive app that allows you to track how your psoriasis develops over time using your phone’s camera. Developed by LEO Innovation Lab, the concept is remarkably simple: once a week – at the time and day of your convenience – you are prompted to capture an image and rate your discomfort out of 10.
What separates Imagine from simply taking snaps on your phone is its sliding split-screen feature. When you take your first image, the app creates an outline of the body part you’ve captured. While you are given the option to take another picture if the outline is incorrect, I found it to be excellent every time. If you are having trouble, there are some useful tips displayed in the app to help you capture the ideal picture.
Once you are happy you simply hit the confirm button and the outline is saved. The outline, or ghost as they call it, is then displayed when you take subsequent pictures, making it easy to replicate the shot precisely. The app layers the images over one-another and you simply slide from right-to-left to smoothly scroll through your timeline, making comparisons extremely intuitive. The discomfort level is also displayed at the bottom of the screen, giving you and your dermatologist extra useful information about the severity of your symptoms.
The parent company of LEO Innovation Lab is Danish pharmaceutical company, LEO Pharma, that specializes in dermatology products. They use the anonymized photos uploaded to Imagine to support their research in an attempt to build a better disease model. They also aim to develop the software behind Imagine and enable it to recognize – and perhaps even predict – changes in psoriasis legions.
At the time of writing, the ability to track multiple body parts is only available on iOS. This is a significant drawback for Android users, as it limits the functionality of the app to just one part of your body. The app is updated regularly, however, so hopefully adding multiple body parts is high on the Android developers’ to-do list.
Imagine is free of cost and free of ads. There is no need to create an account, but doing so allows you to retrieve your images should they be lost or you change phones. There is not much more to say – Imagine is not cluttered by excessive and unnecessary features; it does one thing, and it does it well.
MyTherapy: Medication Reminder and Health Tracker
Finding the right treatment for psoriasis, especially when it is severe, is often a long and difficult process, ranging from topical treatments to light therapy. In some cases, medication may be prescribed in the form of biologics or other oral medication like apremilast (Otezla).
While such medications are often effective at relieving the symptoms of psoriasis, they do come with the risk of side-effects and possible interactions with other forms of medication. Of course, such risks will be discussed in-depth with your doctor, but once you step out of the office you must ensure you take the medication exactly as intended, and at the right time each day.
This is where MyTherapy can help. To set up reminders that will be delivered in the form of push notifications, simply open the app and hit the ‘Therapy’ button in the sidebar. From there you can add your medication, following the simple steps to set up your personal regimen; you can select the frequency of your intakes, the specific time, alarm tone, and even keep track of your inventory. If your medication is temporary you can enter an end date, otherwise you can leave it continuing indefinitely.
Once that’s done, MyTherapy will send notifications your way each and every time your medication is due, and you simply confirm that you have taken it. Should you be taking any other medication or vitamins, you can set up reminders for those in exactly the same way. In fact, the more complex your regimen, the more important it becomes to take each one correctly to avoid any unwanted interactions.
If reminders are all you need from MyTherapy, then you can skip the next few paragraphs and scroll down to the third and final app on the list.
However, MyTherapy does have a few more features that may be of interest to you. Firstly, there is the symptom checker. You can arrange for these to be frequent by adding them in the ‘Therapy’ tab or do them spontaneously in the ‘Today’ tab. You can track symptoms such as itching, dry skin, and rashes. Combined with Imagine’s photo tracking, this gives you and your dermatologist a wealth of information regarding the nature of your symptoms. This feature can also be used to track your wellbeing – a topic recent guest authors have written about on this blog and one many people living with psoriasis can relate to. Mental health is a vitally important issue when it comes to living with psoriasis so the more aware you are of your own wellbeing, the better prepared you are to take steps to improve it if necessary.
Recent guest articles from authors living with psoriasis:
- Back from the Brink: The Emotional Anguish of Psoriasis by Howard Chang
- A Teenager’s Sporting Dream – Broken by Psoriasis by John Redfern
Another feature is activity reminders, which you can program in much the same way as the medication reminders mentioned above for running, yoga, dancing, and a whole host of other activities.
All of the information you enter and record is available via the ‘Journal’ tab, where you can view your statistics for the week, month, or year. If that’s not enough info, you will also find a ‘Report’ tab, where you can have detailed graphs and charts emailed to you in the form of a pdf, which is useful if you would like to print it out and share with your dermatologist.
Lastly, there is a ‘Team’ function, which gives you the possibility to share your progress with friends and family members, as well as storing your doctor’s contact information. Like Imagine, MyTherapy is free of charge and free of ads, with a simple and intuitive user interface. You do not need to create an account to access MyTherapy’s main features, but you do need to register if you want to receive your health report or retrieve lost data.
Between the two of them, MyTherapy and Imagine cover most bases when it comes to using your phone to track psoriasis.
Flaym: Connecting People Living with Psoriasis
You may be surprised that a social media specifically for people living with psoriasis exists, but thanks to LEO Innovation Lab, it does. As they did with Imagine, the developers have succeeded in making Flaym simple, user-friendly app that achieves its specific purpose.
Once you download the app, you will need to sign in either my using your Facebook credentials or by creating an account with your email address. Once done, you are ready to start interacting with other people living with psoriasis.
You will firstly be taken to the ‘For You’ tab, designed in a newsfeed style that will be immediately familiar to anyone on mainstream social media channels. Next to that you will find a ‘Search’ tab which, aside from its obvious function, allows you to browse popular topics such as therapy, seasonal changes, sex, mental health, and a vast array of other topics.
Continue along the bottom and you will find an area for your private messages, notifications, and your account. In the latter you can make the usual personalization’s such as uploading a profile picture, bio, and links to other social media accounts. Basically, it is the tried-and-tested social media recipe.
Of course, what makes-or-breaks any social media platform is the community, and Flaym scores well on that front with active and engaging users. It is not necessary to befriend anyone before your newsfeed fills up and you can begin commenting or sharing posts, which encourages new users to jump right in. If you have a question, comment, or just want to share your feelings, you will be met with compassionate and welcoming people from around the world.
Being specific to psoriasis rather than a mainstream social media platform, there is a welcome relief from “trolls” that are infamous on other sites.
‘Isolation’ is a word that crops up often when people describe the emotional impact of psoriasis. While social media certainly shouldn’t be the only tool used to combat this, having an entire community of people who can relate to you at your fingertips is one of the wonders of modern technology.
Like the other apps listed here, it is free to use, does not contain adverts, and is available for both iOS and Android.
Still to Come in 2018: Beyond
An app yet to hit the stores is Beyond, developed by Amalgam Rx, which aims to reduce stress in those living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. The information made available thus far does not divulge too much information about how the app will achieve this; a press release from December said that the app is a “comprehensive behavioral and patient support program,” while co-founder, Suzanne Clough, MD, said that Beyond is designed “to be a comprehensive, holistic, and tailored self-management program, which teaches these resilience building skills while also helping people living with psoriasis reduce stress and improve their overall wellness by connecting with others.”
For many people living with psoriasis, the relationship between stress and flare-ups is frustratingly familiar; stress triggers a flare-up, which subsequently exacerbates stress levels. It can be a vicious cycle, and one Beyond hopes to help break.
While specific details about the app may be thin on the ground, it is worth keeping an eye on developments considering Amalgam Rx’s experience in the field of healthcare apps. They developed iSage – a prescription-only app that supports users with type 2 diabetes taking insulin injections and connects them with their healthcare professional. The app is FDA-cleared, which suggests the developers are skilled and capable of creating top-class healthcare apps.
Amalgam Rx says that Beyond is currently in the clinical testing phase – another hint at the level of development going into the app – and will be available this year, although a more precise date remains unknown.
We will have to wait and see whether Beyond delivers on its aim to reduce stress. Either way, as mobile technology and apps continue to evolve, it is heartening to see that those living with psoriasis – and other chronic conditions – will benefit from the hard work of innovative developers. Let’s see what amazing innovations arrive by the time the app markets turn twenty.
If you are interested in healthcare tech, check out these other posts on the MyTherapy blog: