Health-Tracking App Promotes Patient Empowerment

Journal My Health, a new app created by local entrepreneur Tracey Welson-Rossman, is billed as a tool for patients and their physicians to manage illness.

The app, which allows users to track symptoms in a private, detailed and simple manner, is intended to help patients give their providers as accurate of a picture of their health as possible during their visits. If patients can refer to an easy-to-navigate record of their symptoms, activities and medications, the thinking goes, their physicians can more accurately plot the next steps in treatment.

“I often wish I could place a Vulcan mind meld on patients to instantaneously understand how they are feeling and what they have observed. A patient may not think to mention their big toe occasionally turns blue, but that may be an important diagnostic clue, or not,” said Dr. Marta T. Becker, chief medical officer of Journal My Health. “Physicians’ brains are honed to cut through information and recognize meaningful patterns. Journal My Health reduces the time required to gather and analyze comprehensive health information and formulate a personalized treatment plan.”

For Welson-Rossman, founder and CEO of Journal My Health, the app is more than a business venture. It’s a response to her personal experience with a chronic condition, and a way to give patients the feeling that they are empowered to take charge of their own health.

Twenty years ago, Welson-Rossman was injured in a car accident that continues to cause her chronic pain. Managing the day-to-day pain was one thing; managing all of the different sources of information, whether from her body, her doctors; or her environment, was another difficult job on top of that. Her analog version of Journal My Health was juggling everything in her head and a folder. Dealing with multiple doctors, she often found herself struggling to recall who had what information, and when they’d gotten it.

“Physicians’ brains are honed to cut through information and recognize meaningful patterns. Journal My Health reduces the time required to gather and analyze comprehensive health information and formulate a personalized treatment plan.”

Dr. Marta T. Becker, Chief Medical Officer of Journal My Health

Welson-Rossman’s idea for an app that could help her keep track of such things was germinating back then, but it wasn’t until the last year that she began to develop the first versions of what became Journal My Health. A telehealth appointment early in the pandemic and the first rumors of what has come to be called “long COVID” were the push she needed to try and make something new.

“It was almost like somebody was saying, ‘You should do this,” Welson-Rossman said.

The persistence of long COVID — the still-being-studied long-term effects of COVID-19, wherein people who have had the virus suffer symptoms of the virus well after their initial recovery — made the development of the app feel especially timely to Welson-Rossman and her team. Welson-Rossman, a Jewish graduate of Drexel University, works for Chariot Solutions, an information technology consulting firm that counts mobile application development as one specialty.

Becker, an ear, nose and throat specialist, contributed to the app’s design. It was important to her that the patterns and trends in a patient’s condition be easily legible to medical professionals, and she believes that the app does just that.

“It is time-consuming to extract and identify critical pieces of patient information,” said Becker, who is Jewish. “If a physician can visualize patterns and trends in a patient’s condition, we can be efficient diagnosticians and come to effective treatment strategies.”

One hundred patients are beta testing the app, logging their symptoms, medications, treatments, sleep patterns, stress levels, mood, lifestyle occurrences, doctors appointments and other relevant data. There are still kinks to be worked out; to Welson-Rossman’s amusement, the first support question came from a United Kingdom user, who noted that there was an issue with the app’s clock feature.

The app is available from the Apple Store for iOS devices and will be ready for Android and other devices in the future, according to a press release.

The idea is that, eventually, the finished version becomes popular enough on a national scale that Welson-Rossman and her team could market Journal My Health to insurance companies and large employers. It goes beyond long COVID; 45% of Americans, Welson-Rossman said, are affected by chronic conditions.

“Our ultimate goal is giving people with long COVID and chronic conditions a way to create better outcomes for themselves,” she said. “This is possible through the use of their own data, improved communications with their healthcare team, and a demonstrable way to track progress.”

Originally published in the Jewish Exponent by Jesse Bernstein.
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