It has been said there may be good, but no exquisite, marriages. However, there is an interesting consumer health app that marries individual health questions with ‘big data’ that might contradict this statement. The app is eHealthMe‘s MedBuddy, an outgrowth of the website eHealthMe.com, and it allows a person to put in their personal medical symptoms, medications, and/or medical conditions and get a detailed data report back from FDA databases (as well as responses given to other users who submitted similar medical questions). The site, which began in 2008, recently produced the MedBuddy application for Android operating system phones (also works on Android tablets).
The MedBuddy app acts as a functional front end for the FDA’s MedWatch database on adverse drug effects. Once queried, it retrieves specific results tailored to an individual’s personal medical situation. Results relevant to the questions posed are displayed and include FDA data collected on thousands of individuals with similar symptoms, medications, and/or medical conditions – all matched to the questioner’s gender and age. The eHealthMe.com web site, (which is a little hard to negotiate at first, but worth the effort) performs the same functions as the App, but with more sophisticated search functions and data display.
For example, a 60 year old female on Lipitor and aspirin puts this information in the app, as well as her symptom of ‘headache’. The app returns results from the FDA drug database: “803 reported drug interactions are studied, among them, 32(3.99%) have headache.” A second line returns, “headache and females age 60 who take Lipitor – 11,661 reported side effects are studied, among them 638 (5.47%) have Headache.” So this lets you know that headache is not uncommon with Lipitor (i.e., you are not a hypochondriac). Several respectable journals, including the Lancet, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, and others have cited eHealthMe results in their publications.
Interviewed on the phone, eHealthMe founder Jonson Chen discussed their plans to expand the ‘Personalized Q&A’ functionality, now available on the web site, to the app. This is a potential breakthrough development, i.e., interactive social media centered on your specific problems. On the web site, you can ask specific questions (utilizing the ‘Ask a question’ button) and the computer sends this query to other site users who have listed similar demographics, drugs and/or symptoms on their profiles. Individuals who receive these questions can answer them, with responses being sent to the group.
What makes this potentially revolutionary is the ‘Ask a question’ function allows social media-type interaction and discussion by individuals with a very specific condition, symptom, drug or issue. These highly specific medical interest groups could potentially put FDA adverse effects surveillance efforts on steroids (so to speak). Each interactive group, if large enough, would be generating data, comparing notes, and the anonymized results of these communications and analyses could be available to patients’ doctors, to drug companies, to the FDA, and used to head off potential problems with new medications.
The MedBuddy app also takes pictures (to show later to your doctor) and has a reminder function for your medications. Johnson Chen indicates that an iPhone version is being strongly considered, though no specific date is set for this.
If you have any health complaints, are diagnosed with a medical condition, or if your doctor wants you to monitor your symptoms, this app might be tailor made for your needs.
Link @ Google Play Store: Med Buddy…