Meet the cancer fighting Apple Watch app - the future of digital health is now

Medopad's Apple Watch app is aiming big
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We're well versed in the concept of patients of the future uploading symptoms for doctors to manage in real time.

What we didn't know until now is that this future has arrived.

King's College Hospital in London is piloting a scheme in which cancer patients going through chemotherapy treatments are given an Apple Watch running Medopad's Apple Watch Chemotherapy app.

Read this: What you need to know about Apple's ResearchKit

Users will get subtle on-wrist reminders of which medication to take using the Watch's Taptic Engine and they can submit symptoms and their temperature - very important to monitor in cancer patients - to doctors in a couple of taps. Medical staff also have access to data on activity levels captured by the Watch's accelerometer all through Medopad's software.

Medopad is a British healthcare company which has been building apps for doctors since the launch of the iPad. Now with the Apple Watch, it is looking to really improve patients' lives and empower them to get involved in their treatment with tech's latest toy.

"The doctors who helped us to develop the app at King's are so excited," Dr. Rich Khatib, Medopad's CEO told Wareable. "The tricky thing is how to integrate HealthKit information into the systems that doctors and hospitals are using but Medopad takes care of this."

Meet the cancer fighting Apple Watch app - the future of digital health is now

As we all know, the Apple Watch is in short supply so Medopad has only been able to secure a couple of smartwatches for the beginning of the trial at King's College Hospital.

According to Dan Vàhdat, Medopad's CTO, as soon as it is able to buy 100 or 200 Apple Watch devices, it will. When we ask if patients will be expected to own an Apple Watch in the future, Khatib notes that is expensive to an individual but not in the context of cancer treatment.

Read this: IBM's Watson teams up with Apple to give doctors your data

"It's much more exciting than that," he said. "Right now we are trying to educate people so we are paying for the Apple Watch devices. This app was built entirely for the Watch, the iPhone just acts as a communication device. In the future the devices would be sponsored perhaps by hospitals, pharmaceutical companies or insurance companies.

"After the treatment is over, another patient can use the Apple Watch so it could work out at £50 per patient. When you compare that to chemotherapy treatments and the fact that one pill could cost £1,000 per day it's worth it."

Medopad also points out that approximately 10% of the NHS' budget is allocated to cancer treatment. As well as allowing doctors to improve treatment by monitoring changes in symptoms, prescribing new medications and ensuring that patients are taking their drugs on time, the app will save money.

Meet the cancer fighting Apple Watch app - the future of digital health is now

"Patients forget to take the drugs or lose them. There are also many unnecessary visits to A&E because doctors don't have access to that information," said Khatib.

This real time data will be invaluable for doctors but Medopad's execs are keen to point out that they don't store any of it themselves. "We are like Uber in that Uber doesn't own any cars," said Vàhdat. "We don't own any data. The hospital keeps control of the patients' data."

As for the future, Medopad is looking to roll out the trial to other hospitals. Khatib's goal is for all the hospitals in London to be on the scheme and there are plans to work with private hospitals in other countries such as China.

"I want to see everyone going through chemotherapy treatment using the Medopad app," said Khatib. "Cancer affects 1 in every 2 people in the UK and we both know people who have suffered from it.

"This is just the beginning. We have plans for apps for different diseases, we are already working with ResearchKit. We also want to use the sensors on the Watch so for the care of elderly people, we're looking to use the accelerometer for fall detection."

We'll be keeping an eye on Medopad's progress - in theory, treatment plans will be improved, patients will have more control and doctors will save time. Win win win.

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Sophie was Wareable's associate editor. She joined the team from Stuff magazine where she was an in-house reviewer. For three and a half years, she tested every smartphone, tablet, and robot vacuum that mattered. 

A fan of thoughtful design, innovative apps, and that Spike Jonze film, she is currently wondering how many fitness tracker reviews it will take to get her fit. Current bet: 19.

Sophie has also written for a host of sites, including Metro, the Evening Standard, the Times, the Telegraph, Little White Lies, the Press Association and the Debrief.

She now works for Wired.

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