This is a journey I started around four years ago after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s, I had an idea that, to me, seemed relatively simple yet there were people telling me that it couldn’t be done as no one had done it before. Was it really such an unreasonable expectation that I could take control and better manage my Parkinson’s and help others living with the same and their families do the same?
Not to be put off by a challenge, I founded myHealthPal® to do just that, a platform for managing multiple long-term conditions, with Parkinson’s being our first supported condition. Aimed at people living with long term-conditions and their families, it’s about enabling self-management and empowering change, connecting families with healthcare and making consultations more meaningful through the use of data. MyHealthPal enables better medication management, logging and tracking of symptoms, capturing data from wearable devices such as fitbit and using tests to provide objective measurements. We’re not there yet but with a great road map of additional functionality, working with people with Parkinson’s, charities and other groups, we aim to release an update every 2-4 weeks.
The last 12 months has been an incredible journey – we’ve raised £750k in investment, conducted usability and feasibility studies in the UK, built scalable and compliant data stores in multiple countries, secured trials at major hospitals in the US and have over 1,000 people with Parkinson’s using it. Most recently, Dr. Mary Baker MBE & Dr. Alastair Noyce have joined our advisory board, demonstrating our commitment towards Parkinson’s, and further supporting our efforts in providing an evidence based approach by ensuring our methods and data are validated. We’ve also seen our ideas incorporated by others, which further proves their importance and has resulted in even greater access to people with Parkinson’s.
In addition to all the great work at myHealthPal I also had DBS at Bristol hospital in January this year, I choose Bristol because of their pioneering work and was operated on by Prof. Steven Gill aided by a robot arm that allowed me to remain asleep for the entire operation. For me the results have been fantastic, I no longer have the same feelings of stiffness and its enabled me to reduce my medication. As a direct result of this I’m now able to get more involved with myHealthPal and look forward to continue to build on the solid foundation developed so far.
It’s fair to say we really are experiencing a data explosion through a number of innovative applications such as myHealthPal and wearable technologies that have emerged in recent years that aim to revolutionise healthcare. With technological advancements and availability of smart phones and these wearable devices what does it all mean and where is it all going to lead?
Firstly this is allowing the patient to be at the centre and take an active role, empowering them to take control of their own health. Previously decisions and interaction with a doctor were based mainly on feedback about treatments and general health but now patients can monitor and assess using technology, allowing them to make decisions and life style adjustments to improve the quality of their own lives. This data enhances doctor-patient interactions, making consultations more meaningful by using data gathered by these applications and wearables. As patients have more access to data about their own bodies they can be more involved in their overall health, this could lead to shorter doctor visits or remote check-ups where discussion is based on specific events in data, it could mean few medical tests and better treatment success.
Through precision medicine, genomes and the continuing advancement in these technologies and data availability I believe they will help identify alternative treatments, drug re- purposing and most certainly cures. At the moment one of the biggest challenges in any wearable product or device such as a phone is off course the battery life, but I’m sure this will soon become a thing of the past and when this is the case we will become more connected with our bodies through the use of always on technologies and garments which capture and measure every aspect of our bodies, giving increased insights and presented through application such as myHealthPal.
There’s a lot more to come.
Mike Barlow is founder and CEO of myHealthPal.
- Rallying to the Challenge 2016: Data, Data, Data This year’s theme for Rallying to the Challenge was the issue of data: big data, small data, personal data, impersonal data, what’s useful and what’s not, and how data could and should be used. Collecting information about our personal experiences can inspire…
- Can a smartphone unlock new discoveries in Parkinson’s? The Cure Parkinson’s Trust is supporting a world-first global study to learn more about the health of people with Parkinson’s, to help bridge the long gap between visits to the doctor. You’re invited to become a citizen scientist, tracking the ten most important…
- The discussions from Rallying to the Challenge 2016 have been published in the Journal of Parkinsonism and Restless Legs Syndrome, the paper focuses on the attitudes to clinical data sharing among people with Parkinson's: Background: Clinical data sharing and ownership are key issues in modern digital data acquisition. Data sharing…