Currently I own several fitness trackers and several apps for health monitoring and fitness, but this is the first time I have come across an app that actually means something to me as a patient.
Before I get into detail about ThaliMe, I think some background information is in order. My family is of multiple backgrounds that have immigrated to the United States,from England and Cambodia. As a child, several of my cousins and I were poked and prodded and eventually found to have Thalassemia to different degrees. Personally, I have not had to struggle as much as others in the South East Asian community as well as others in my extended family.
However, as one of the few medical professionals in my family, it is a topic that frequently comes up and discussed. Many in my family face chronic anemia, treatments and fatigue that impacts daily lives. As a believer in mobile technology, the quantified patient, and the expanding role of medical treatments and community, an app that seeks to address a health disease specific to me was astounding.
For those unfamiliar with treatment of Thalassemia, many patients will require chronic blood transfusions over the course of their lives if severe enough. Unfortunately, as a by product of multiple transfusions and the nature of the disease, iron toxicity is a problem that may arise. Novartis is a manufacturer of pharmaceuticals for hematological issues, including Exjade/Deferasixox, which is an iron chelator approved by the FDA for management of iron overload due to blood transfusions. As such, Novartis put together a competition to develop an app around the Thalassemia community.
For me, I think that mobile applications and social groups are a great area where pharmaceutical companies can put in goodwill for diseases they are tackling, and opening up a challenge to find an app to help treat thalassemia was a great thing.
In this case, the winner of the app challenge, ThaliMe, aims to help those that suffer from Thalassemia by creating a way to share their status, track their health, store their personal information, as well as creating tasks to help with their care, and even interacting in a private social group.