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  • Ruairidh Barlow : simplify your treatment plan and take control of your own health

Introduction to MyTherapyApp

All around us, increasingly on us and for a few, even in us.

Technology, in particular smart technology, is changing the world at a rate and on a scale never seen to the world. The advances of tools and technology have consistently through thousands of years changed the way we live and made once significant tasks easy. The wheel for instance is normally the go to answer cited as the greatest invention the world has ever seen (although sliced bread has many advocates too). But the fact remains, that with the advent of the internet and smartphones, never before has the spread of information and ideas been more rapid, changes that once upon a time would have taken decades maybe even centuries to spread across the world, can now be affected almost overnight, certainly within the course of a few months.

Take dating for example; only a few years ago, online dating was the scorn of society, only for the desperate and disillusioned. The explosion of apps like Tinder and Grindr in the last decade has changed that, making it almost fashionable. Yet the one-time last resort is symbolic of the more general shift of life into the virtual world. According to eHarmony, 40 million Americans now use online dating; that’s of the 109 million single people in the US, not taking into account those who are in a relationship but not married.

This is just one of countless changes in the way life is changing in response to technology, outsourcing every task to a separate application or wireless device. Smartphone owners barely need to think for themselves anymore – Google will give yoiu millions of answers to your question and sort out the most suitable one’s for you in a matter of seconds. Communication has reached the point where you no longer even need to respond to a message with words, you can simply respond with a facial expression (or a hundred other emojis). We no longer pay with money, we pay with signals. This rapid spread throughout society coincides with one thing in particular, our use of smartphones.

91% of people in the UK have used a smartphone in the last day, and 85% own one. With such large market penetration comes previously incomprehensible possibilities. Never before has it been easier to reach people, distribute information and advertise. Indeed, the entire marketplace for many businesses has been completely transformed.

Of course, this brings negative effects as well as positive ones. Much is made of the problems it can bring, and it is an important and far-reaching conversation. One only needs to look at the Cambridge Analytica debacle, which has opened not just a can of worms, but an entire worm-canning factory, crystallising the dangers that come with this transition into a smartphone dominated world.

But this, as with any narrative, one sidedness normally suggests a lack of balance, it should be remembered that advances in technology and these increasing possibilities are there to be exploited for our benefit too. There is no shortage of problems waiting to be approached from a different angle.

One of the more prominent ones we are facing UK, is the NHS. Continual cuts and the ageing population are largely incompatible, there seems no easy answer; this article does not give one either. But with great need often comes great innovation and it is incumbent upon us to embrace new ideas and find ways to maximize resources.

Recently the gaping sinkhole that is medication adherence has come into focus, as healthcare systems around the world look into ways to plug the problem. It is all very well having the medication in developed countries, but if, as the World Health Organisation claims, only 50% of people take their medication properly, it severely damages resources, and worse, the people themselves.

A Deloitte study estimates this damage at a cost of around £500 million to the NHS annually. That’s an extra 21,000 qualified nurses, 30,000 kidney transplants or an entire year’s worth of cancer drugs, in case you were wondering. Certainly, something worth addressing – Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has attempted to do so, suggesting that the costs should be printed on prescription medications, which may help a little, but guilt tripping patients is hardly going to stop the problem altogether. Indeed, perhaps the more worrying aspect, is that just under 200,000 people in the EU lose their lives every year due to poor adherence.

So how exactly do we approach this from a different angle?

The MyTherapy app is one way of doing so. To categorise it as just a medication reminder app would be unfair, however, its core function is ensuring that people are taking their medication, customizable to suit any schedule or medication, no matter how precise or particular. This scheduling can be used not just for medication but for tracking measurements (useful for diabetic users, for example), symptoms or even just sticking to an exercise schedule. Users can also enter their symptoms into the journal section, which provides an overview of adherence and an accurate perspective on the effectiveness of the medication. This information can also be shared with doctors, or friends and family as well, should the person so desire.

In general, it is a practical, versatile tool to manage a treatment plan, removing the hassle and struggle of sticking to a schedule; it will even notify you if need to restock your medication when it’s running low. Not only is the app free, but it comes without adverts and isn’t selling data to third parties. Created in Munich in 2012, the app comes from a collaboration between a team of skilled developers and healthcare professionals in order produce an app designed with the patient in mind. Since then, the app (available on Android and iOS) has been tweaked continuously to give its half a million plus users a smooth, ergonomic experience.

The effect of technology on the modern world presents as many challenges as it does opportunities – it is changing our way of life quicker than we can compute. While these changes should be considered carefully, and the consequences thought through, on the whole, it is still a tool for our use. It’s important we continue to use these tools to make life better, or in this case healthier. After all, if you haven’t got your health, you’ve got nothing – no smartphone has changed that quite yet.

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