Johns Hopkins app helps hydrocephalus patients better track, manage illness

A new mHealth app is helping hydrocephalus patients and caregivers better track data relating to surgeries and treatment and replaces the paper-based care monitoring approach regarding shunt implants, mHealth Intelligence reports.

The HydroAssist app was developed by a collaborative research team from Johns Hopkins Department of Neurology, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center Department of Neurosurgery and the Hydrocephalus Association.

"Traditionally, patients had difficulties in healthcare settings after neurologists and surgeons installed their shunts," Abhay Rajeshwar Moghekar, director of the Adult Hydrocephalus and CSF Disorders Program of the Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins, told mHealth Intelligence. "They would be given cards describing the operation and shunt details."

But the cards, which offered data on type of shunt and capabilities and settings, can easily go missing, Moghekar said; without that information, data emergency personnel cannot provide care in a quick and efficient manner.

"We realized it was necessary to focus on educating patients," Moghekar said.

The app is one of an increasing number of mHealth software tools being used by patients and caregivers in the hospital and emergency room setting for chronic illness treatment.

For instance, a Dallas-based hospital is using an app to spur young patients into proactive management of asthma.

A recent study reveals smartphone-based apps used for tracking symptoms daily can help patients suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as reported by Telemedicine and e-Health.

The HydroAssist app allows users to store and record medical treatment history, provides access to key data about implanted shunts and the device's programming and settings features.

Moghekar said that so far, patient feedback has been positive.

"When we were piloting the app, a woman ended up in the emergency room and was thankful for the app," he said. "Also, when someone went to a different hospital, the app helped."

For more information:
- read the mHealth Intelligence article