Taking patient advocacy to a whole new level

Sept. 1, 2011

I recently had the pleasure of being invited to moderate a panel at the World Congress Third Annual Leadership Summit on mHealth, held July 28-29 in Cambridge, Mass. I found the conference informative, the panelists well versed in their respective topics of expertise and the exhibitors entertaining (highlights included AT&T’s diabetes app, Humana’s wireless teddy bears and Rubbermaid Healthcare’s telemedicine solution). But what I will remember most about the event was meeting a powerfully proactive patient.

Wife and mother Natasha Gajewski was hard at work – living her busy life and staying in shape by practicing Zumba, a Latin-inspired, dance-fitness program – when she was diagnosed with a chronic, incurable disease.

Understandably, the diagnosis left her scared and feeling more than a little helpless. Her doctor suggested she keep a diary of her symptoms to help clarify her diagnosis and redefine her treatment plan. Gajewski needed an easy way to capture and log data and thought, “There must be an app for that!”

But there wasn’t.

So Gajewski decided to take matters into her own hands and build one herself.

Based upon the axiom that “participatory healthcare + evidence-based medicine = happier, healthier patients,” Symple App was born.

The intuitive interface allows users to define their own symptoms, while some elegant programming makes it possible to log symptoms with as few as a half-dozen screen touches.

The app tracks symptoms and triggers, and can even remind the user to log observations at the same time every day in order to standardize data. The tool bridges the gaps between doctor visits, allowing the patient to share only important data with their healthcare provider on a schedule that makes sense for both parties involved.

“Getting diagnosed with an incurable disease is a life-changing experience, but it’s not scary anymore,” Gajewski says. “Now, I’m a scientist of my health, not a victim of my disease.”

Symple App is currently going through its beta-testing phase.

On her Web site, www.SympleApp.com, Gajewski quotes Shannon Brownlee (from an article titled “21st Century Leeches” in the New Health Dialogue blog), which sums up her perspective perfectly: “As a patient, I want to be the driver; my physician is the GPS.”

Enjoy the magazine. If you’re in Salt Lake City for AHIMA the beginning of October, we hope to see you. And, until next time, here’s wishing you good healthcare IT.

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