Our top 10 health apps

by Amy Schofield 14. August 2017 09:10




If the app fits

Apps are used by millions to monitor their bodies, habits and health – here’s our high 10.


A study has revealed that patients with advanced breast or lung cancer who entered symptoms into a smartphone app lived over five months longer than expected. The trial of 766 patients found that those who updated doctors about pain levels in real time missed fewer chemotherapy sessions and were more active. Health apps have become a pivotal part of the self-care revolution, with millions being downloaded every day. Here are 10 of the best.




Thrive Feel Stress Free, free (in app purchases available)

Developed in the UK by consultant psychiatrists and psychologists, this evidence-based app proactively manages stress, anxiety and depression by keeping track of the user’s mood over time. This fully ICO-registered programme trains users in ‘self-soothing’ techniques, such as meditation and deep muscle relaxation to help them cope better in stressful situations. It also features a ‘thought trainer’ programme based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques.




OWise, free

The first app to be approved and listed in the NHS Apps Library, the OWise breast cancer app is suitable for use by breast cancer patients, during and after their treatment. It helps patients keep track of their treatment and wellbeing by recording levels of fatigue, appetite, pain and other aspects of their health. In turn this indicates trends and can provide users with a personalised list of questions for their doctor appointments.




mumoActive, free

Suitable for both adults and children with type 1 diabetes, and featured in the NHS Apps Library, mumoActive is a secure app that allows users to track their values, such as blood sugar, carbohydrates and insulin. The data is then collated into easy-to-understand graphs which patients can share with their doctor, carer or family to help them decide whether to test, exercise, eat or take insulin in order to best manage their diabetes. 




myCOPD, free as an NHS service in some areas or a £20 lifetime licence.

 This NHS-approved app helps people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to manage their condition. It can be used to perfect inhaler techniques, improve breathing, reduce exacerbations and track medication. It also allows clinicians to remotely check in with patients. myCOPD has been shown to correct 98% of inhaler errors without other clinical intervention, resulting in an improvement in quality of life.




Quealth, free

Quealth allows users to assess their risk of developing the five most common lifestyle-driven diseases: dementia, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, six forms of cancer and COPD. It uses answers to questions, assisted by live data from wearable trackers and mobile phones, to assess and score health risk status and guides users in improving their lifestyle and behaviour to reduce risk and help prevent the development of the conditions.




Healthera, free

Developed by three Cambridge-graduate entrepreneurs, the Healthera app is a smart medicine diary for patients which analyses their medicine-taking pattern, records their concerns and helps them gain their pharmacist or doctor’s attention when irregular medicine-taking occurs. It interprets the medicine’s name and instructions found on prescription labels into a schedule, then turns it into a QR code that is printed on the label, allowing patients to add the schedule to their phone’s calendar. 




MyAsthma, free

GSK’s MyAsthma app has been developed in collaboration with HCPs to put patients in control of their asthma. Users can track their condition by using the Asthma Control Test; monitor potential triggers, store their peak flow record and share information with their GP to help them understand their condition in more detail. MyAsthma is also one of the first examples of an app that is classified as a class 1 medical device. 




Ask the Midwife, from 99p for one question to a £24.99 per month subscription

Run by registered midwives, this online advice service for expectant mums allows users to get a quick response to any questions they have about pregnancy, birth and beyond from an experienced midwife. The ASK Service allows users to ask one question and get one answer from a registered midwife via the app’s messaging service, while the CHAT Service is a real-time, fast response messaging service where users can request a conversation with a registered midwife.




ZoomDoc, app is free, appointments start at £99 for a 25-minute consultation

ZoomDoc aims to remove barriers between GPs and patients by offering a 24/7 UK-wide ‘GP on Demand’ service. After registering with the service via the smartphone app, patients can choose a local GP to visit them. Patients initially receive a phone consultation from a GP within 60 seconds and then, if required, a home visit within 60 minutes.




Predictive calculator to help HCPs identify patients at risk of liver disease

The University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust (UHS) has developed an app that helps GPs to assess a patient’s risk of liver disease using a traffic light test based on the results of assays carried out by the UHS. Results so far show that the app has helped to demonstrate that for alcohol related liver disease, feeding back an amber or red traffic light result doubles the number of patients who are drinking safely a year later. 







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Top Story

Patient 2.0: The digital-savvy patient has arrived

by J Pinching 21. April 2017 09:18



Patient 2.0: The digital-savvy modern patient has truly arrived and industry must be ready.

The modern patient is here. The digital revolution has prompted the biggest communal reboot since 1948 and patients are increasingly likely to go online for access to health information, to liaise with communities and study treatment options. Consequently, self-care is on the rise – indeed, there are currently 500 million people worldwide accessing healthcare apps, while iTunes offers 43,000 health-based applications.

Our panel of experts – from patient advocacy, health communications, support forums, healthcare solutions and big pharma – talk about the potential of the empowered patient to make decisions, take control and add essential input. 

They will also focus on the challenges that industry and wider healthcare face in providing worthwhile digital engagement.


Get smart?

Too much time on smartphones has been linked to weight gain, sleep deprivation and depression, while too much reliance on information has caused misdiagnoses, dangerous approaches to self-care and an unwillingness to access ‘orthodox’ healthcare.


Engagement parties

Rebecca Galbraith is Practice Area Head, Patient Support and Adherence at QuintilesIMS


A goal of any patient-focused support programme is to engage patients, helping them to take action to improve their health; to be involved in decisions about their healthcare and have useful discussions with healthcare teams about the care they receive.

With some groups – like younger patients, those with chronic illnesses and people with higher incomes – there is a strong trend towards increased engagement.

The use of digital channels including mobile and wearables, to connect with patients, provides tailorable resources that can be incorporated into daily lives. These devices help track symptoms, encourage positive behaviours and improve adherence.

There will be patient populations, however, who exhibit a lack of engagement, and may not be able to interact with digital tools. This could be due to demographics, symptomology or psychological challenges associated with their condition.

Our experience shows that one size does not fit all patients. A multichannel programme, providing the right mix of both digital and in-person interactions with – for example, a nurse – can dramatically improve patient engagement.


True lives

Marc Boutin is Chief Executive Officer of the American National Health Council


The digital era has simply accelerated a fundamental truth - and made it harder to ignore. Patients want to be listened to and have their say. They don’t want the development of health ‘solutions’ that do not meet their needs.

After decades of frustration, patients are taking to the digital arena, and this pressure is beginning to see results. The pharma industry has begun to make changes – for the benefit of both patients and companies.

No matter how ‘good’ your product, it is useless if the patient doesn’t value it. The industry must co-create health solutions, not for patients, but with patients.

Right from the start, we need to ask patients which outcomes matter most and base our approach on data. The National Health Council is a founding member of the global coalition ‘Patient Focused Medicines Development’ (PFMD) for that very reason.

PFMD runs a crowdsourced online tool which aims to bring together diverse stakeholders – including patient organisations, industry and regulatory bodies – and embed the patient voice throughout the medicine lifecycle.


The influencers

Emma Morton is Senior Media Strategist at Ruder Finn UK


Modern patients research their condition online, where they can find the latest news on clinical trials, research and treatments.

Numerous platforms now offer robust medical information and reliable advice, as well as support from those experiencing similar symptoms. Many value the experience of comparing their lives with fellow patients, detailing highs and lows.

Our digital team at Ruder Finn have constantly monitored online consumer trends, observing that ‘influencers’ are one of the greatest changes to the healthcare landscape. Patients are frequently turning to posts made by ‘real people’ and medical experts for updates on treatments.

This reliance on the web means that industry needs clear digital strategies to consolidate their online presence. They must engage with patient groups and online influencers – whether they are peers, healthcare professionals or company voices – through appropriate channels.

And, crucially, they should ensure their sites carry jargon-free medical information. Details such as product usage instructions and contraindications are vital as increasing numbers prefer to self-care, particularly for minor conditions.

Strong visuals are a must for patient sites, with online images providing a clear picture of certain conditions.

Public health communicators have long been aware that the young patients are more likely to look at their smart phones, rather than posters, and are developing campaigns with this in mind.

As it grows stronger, on a daily basis, the impact of digital influencers needs to be explored in more depth by the pharmaceutical industry.



Era defining

Deborah Wyatt is Founding Director of talkhealth Partnership Ltd.

There’s little doubt that the 21st century patient is very different to the 20th century patient of my era. Much has changed and technology has been the key driver.

Today’s patient is more informed. The internet provides access to a wealth of information, enabling patients to better understand their condition. They talk with like-minded patients in online communities and engage across social media. They are open about their symptoms, share information and support each other.

As for the future, research has shown that informed patients are more proactive in making decisions about their health, often leading to improved adherence and better health outcomes. Patients should be at the centre of what happens next. Pharma needs to engage with patients, providing them with what they want and need.

At talkhealth we have helped thousands of patients to interact online with health professionals, charities, fellow patients and carers. This allows them to take control over decisions about their condition and approach their situation positively.

There’s much talk about ‘patient centricity’. Now is the time for healthcare and pharma to involve them at the very start and the very heart of everything they do.


Case study: Boehringer Ingelheim

Breathing new life


Boehringer Ingelheim has over 90 years of heritage in respiratory disease, having launched several treatments in areas of high unmet need.

As part of its commitment it is looking ‘beyond the pill’ to provide platforms which support patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals.

The patient activation campaign ‘Think. Act. Breathe’, for example, aims to help people with asthma to identify if they are still symptomatic and, therefore, at risk of an asthma attack. 

Go to thinkactbreathe.com

Also, in light of the increasing global health burden of COPD, the company is running a COPD awareness campaign – ‘COPD Your Time to ACT is Now’. The goal is to help patients and the healthcare community to challenge management of the disease, giving patients the best chance of maintaining a good quality of life. Go to yourtimecopd.com

Meanwhile, for healthcare professionals working with patients who have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, inIPF.com is a global on-line portal, which provides resources on IPF diagnosis and management. 

Boehringer Ingelheim seeks continuous dialogue with patient advocacy groups to deepen our understanding of their needs and inform future developments. Our focus has always been on improving the quality of life of patients and, for us,  delivering value through innovation means coming up with new and better ways to improve their health.

Allan Hillgrove is a member of the Board of Managing Directors at Boehringer Ingelheim with responsibility for the Human Pharma Business Unit.


Web of intrigue*

50% of the UK population self-diagnose online

75% search the web for health info

2% have reported a digital interaction with the NHS

96% GP practices have digital clinical records

4% Offer online patient access to records

90% Of patients would use an online appointment**

13.7 million people in Europe will use a connected care system by 2019

*Sourced by the Nuffield Trust

** From a survey of 7,000 people





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How Sassoon is now?

by Admin 11. May 2012 10:22

 Maxine Vaccine pays tribute to the genius of Vidal Sassoon and gives five reasons why the legendary hairdresser is a role model for medical sales professionals.

In my late teens I worked in a Midlands hairdressing salon. Difficult customers, bitchy colleagues, hours of random chatter – it was ideal training for a career in pharmaceutical sales. Some of us were girls, some of us just acted like we were. But we all had one hero in common. And that hero passed away this week, aged 84.

Vidal Sassoon took the mundane service industry of hairdressing and made it an art, a business and a dream. His talent, energy and sheer chutzpah make him an inspiration for anyone whose work involves contributing to the well-being of the human body.

So in tribute to Sassoon’s revolutionary five-point haircut, here is a five-point guide to true style in medical sales...

1. Start in reality. At the age of 17, Vidal Sassoon joined the 43 Group, an association of Jewish ex-soldiers dedicated to fighting fascism on the streets of East London. They took on Mosley’s Blackshirts and beat them. That toughness and refusal to be the underdog stayed with Sassoon throughout his life.

2. Keep it simple. Sassoon’s trademark hairdressing style avoided elaborate treatments. He wanted to work with the natural shape and life of human hair. The iconic ‘five-point’, inspired by Bauhaus architecture, was a clipped androgynous look whose simplicity disguised its mathematical precision.

3. Care begins at home. Like a present-day GP, Sassoon thought primarily in terms of the self-care model. No more beehives that took an hour to reconstruct each morning. His cuts were low-maintenance and robust, designed for women who had lives to lead.

4. The right words. Sassoon launched his classic range of hair products with the slogan ‘If you don’t look good, we don’t look good’ – a neat play on words that linked the worlds of fashion and business. Even in his eighties, Sassoon’s language was as sharp and elegant as his haircuts.

5. Fit for purpose. Throughout his career, Sassoon remained lean, fit and immaculately dressed. Where many of his contemporaries drank like fishes, he swam like one. His salon performances were balletic displays of controlled energy, expressing his attitude towards human health.

Maxine’s views are not necessarily those of Pharmaceutical Field.

Get the message

by Admin 24. February 2012 12:45

 The Department of Health ‘Maps and Apps’ web page lists over 500 existing or potential health apps voted on by visitors to the site. Maxine Vaccine looks at the possibilities opened up by this new medium for health communications.

Like William Hague’s baseball cap, the new Maps and Apps section of the DH website appears desperate to show how street the Government is. Its subtitle Wouldn’t it be great if... is meant to suggest the limitless vistas opened up by new technology. But the words may well have a hollow ring for a medical profession still unable to believe that Lansley’s ‘Listening Exercise’ consisted of him jamming his fingers in his ears and chanting La la la, I can’t hear you! Wouldn’t it be great if... clinicians had a voice in forming the policy whose stated intention is to give them a voice?

But maybe it takes a powerful tool to know a powerful tool.

The new health apps initiative is a crucial opportunity for pharma companies to reach prescribers and patients with materials that promote health awareness – from the management of long-term conditions to the identification and resolution of acute problems. As their name suggests, apps are tools that have immediate impact on the user’s situation. For example, the new Diabetes App will enable patients to record their ongoing blood glucose test results and communicate them to a clinician who can advise them on medication and lifestyle adjustments.

A good app is not just a booklet in iPhone format. It’s a focused device for dealing with real problems in real time. And the demanding world of long-term condition management needs that kind of sharpened information like a body needs oxygen. Patients on multiple medications need to stay on top of the health management process, tracking disease symptoms, side-effects and signs of improvement, interacting successfully with health professionals to optimise their self-care and drug treatment. They need information resources that combine clinical background knowledge with practical guidance. The app can help to mediate the patient’s relationship with the health service.

Pharma companies need to take account of the health apps phenomenon in their picture of how patients and clinicians interact and prescribing decisions are made. In addition, they can raise their profile and initiate customer dialogue by contributing their own items to the new culture of health apps. Does that culture have a name? If not, we might call it the Appetite.

Maxine’s views are not necessarily those of Pharmaceutical Field.

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Bioscience expert named as Chair of NHS Commissioning Board

by Emma 17. October 2011 14:50


Professor Malcolm Grant (pictured), an authority on genetic technology, has been named by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley as his choice of Chair for the new NHS Commissioning Board.

The national board, which has been called the biggest quango in British history, will commission primary medical care and specialist health areas, as well as controlling the allocation of NHS resources.

Professor Grant, currently Provost of University College London, will be interviewed by the Health Select Committee before his appointment but is expected to take up the post at the end of October.

A qualified barrister and lawyer, Professor Grant has worked in the Local Government Commission and been a UK Business Ambassador. He is a recognised authority on the regulation of biotechnology.

Malcolm Grant commented: “We need to build on the very best NHS qualities of dedicated public service, professionalism and pride, and seize the opportunity to create long-term stability and focus on getting constant improvement in quality and openness to innovation.”

Grant’s commitment to new healthcare technology is reflected in his recent statement: “We know that there will be a revolution in the next few years as we try to ensure that improvements in diagnostics and pharmacogenetics and self-care and self-treatment are brought home to patients, giving them the capacity to control their own medication and their own choices.”

The NHS Commissioning Board will provide strategic leadership for NHS commissioning. It will directly commission primary medical care and some specialised healthcare; support and regulate the Clinical Commissioning Groups; allocate NHS resources; and promote patient choice and information.

Andrew Lansley said: “Professor Grant has distinction and authority, is outstandingly capable and has excellent leadership skills, demonstrated by his success at UCL. He has a strong track record of delivery in complex public sector organisations, and shares the public sector ethos and values of the NHS.”


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