When it comes to improving patient safety, we say the more incremental steps, the better. File in this category MedWatcher, a new, free, interactive iPhone app to provide real-time surveillance of drug-safety alerts.
Developed by Children's Hospital Boston, Harvard Medical School and UNC-Chapel Hill, MedWatcher delivers official alerts from the Food and Drug Administration, as well as relevant updates from "informal" channels such as the news media, Healthcare IT News reports. Users can choose the drugs and therapeutic classes they want to follow. They also can report back on side effects and adverse events they encounter, while patients and clinicians alike are able to submit their own reviews of specific medications.
"Traditional voluntary drug safety surveillance is limited by substantial under-reporting," says John Brownstein, director of the Computational Epidemiology Group in Children's Hospital Boston's informatics group, who helped lead development of MedWatcher.
"Our hope is that through the release of MedWatcher, we will prompt increased participation in surveillance, empowering people to participate in the public-health process but also potentially allowing us to crowdsource problem drugs, which will lead to better understandings of side effects of medicines, and possibly even bring about earlier detection and prevention," adds another team leader, Children's Hospital software developer Clark Freifeld.
MedWatcher is an outgrowth of another Children's Hospital Boston project called HealthMap. That team last year introduced an iPhone and Android app called Outbreaks Near Me to track the spread of infectious diseases.