Mobile health applications have been increasingly popular since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic by helping patients stay up to date on their health while also reducing the burden on healthcare organisations. Mobile health has gained popularity in various parts of the healthcare field, such as the use of video applications to virtually see a physician, or cell phone applications that track vaccination status.
Recently, however, mobile health applications have shown promise in the field of cognitive function and mental health. Biogen, Apple and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), have teamed up to create a mobile health programme to help detect and track various health issues such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and major depressive disorder. The mobile health programme would use Apple Watches and other wearable technologies paired with an iPhone to track data. It will look for connections between cell phone use, physical activity and cognitive function.
As of 2021, around 14.7% of Parkinson’s patients in the US have advanced disease, with this number projected to grow to 16.1% by 2030. In addition, around 7% of the US population has been diagnosed with major depressive disorder. While this number is projected to decrease slightly to 6.8% by 2030, it is still a significant percentage and so this programme will prove helpful for such patients.
The programme is still in the research phase and is not available to the public yet; the companies are aiming to recruit 3,000 participants to test the programme out before releasing it. Once available, the mobile health programme will help to detect these conditions early and will help to diagnose and treat them more effectively. It could also be used in research on a large scale to ultimately help contribute to prevention measures.