11/03/2024 | Press releases

New smartphone app helps patients with Parkinson’s

People with Parkinson’s disease have praised the launch of an app to help monitor and manage their condition.

The Neu Health app has been developed for people with Parkinson’s to log their symptoms, complete digital tests as well as access information tailored for them about their condition.

The information inputted into the app is then automatically available for the clinical teams at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT) via a dashboard who can use the data to help shape the best treatment and care for the patient.

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over many years.

Man and woman standing outside by train at theme park
Jane with her husband Stephen

Jane Coiley was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of 63. She knew something was wrong when she noticed the left side of her body didn’t seem to be functioning properly. The now 71-year-old from north Essex said the app has been a fantastic support, particularly with her medication.

Jane said: “I use the app all the time and it’s helped control when I need to take my tablets – I have to take several a day. It’s like having someone watch over my shoulder. I also like logging my symptoms and have done several of the tests on the app.

“When I met with Sheeba my nurse, having all the data I’d put in was great – a real time saver in our appointment.”

Man and woman dressed up for formal occasion standing outside
Jane with her husband Stephen

Depending on the information you share and the results of the digital tests, the app is able to respond to the individual and offer information about managing symptoms, such as exercises that may be beneficial. “I’ve started singing lessons to help with my voice,” added Jane.

man in sports gear holding medal and bottle of champagne
Andrew, UK singles open gold medal champion at the 2022 Scottish (UK) Parkinson’s Table Tennis Tournament 

Andrew Cassy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 44 after recognising a tremor in his fingers, especially when he was stressed. He knows the benefits of exercise to help manage symptoms of PD and runs an inclusive social table tennis session in Ipswich for anyone with the condition, as well as representing England in the Parkinson’s World Championships.

The father-of-two is now 58 and has also been using the app.

Andrew, who lives near Shingle Street, said he’s tracking his symptoms in the app, which can include tremors, sleep, memory problems and more.

He said: “There are more than 30 symptoms you can log in the app and you can select the top five of your own to monitor for discussion with your clinical team.”

Man looking down at phone
Andrew Cassy using the Neu Health app

Andrew said there’s a detailed initial ‘baseline activity’ session you have to complete in the first week which includes seven digital tasks, and then you need to complete the activities at least once a week.

He said: “There are basic exercises, vocal sound tests, movement and dexterity tasks as well as tremor monitoring activities.

“Having the information there during your appointment will be so valuable when you have precious time with your nurse or neurologist.

“There’s loads of information on there too, about medication, treatment or exercise, and it’s great it’s responsive to the data you’ve added in.”

Screenshots of a phone app
Screenshots of the app including one of the tasks

The technology remotely measures voice, walking, balance, reaction time, finger dexterity and speed, rest tremor and postural tremor.

The app is a pilot project and has been developed by Neu Health, supported by ESNEFT’s Innovation Team, Health Innovation East and NHS Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care Board (SNEE ICB) to introduce the app to patients.

Sheeba Suresh is a Parkinson’s advanced clinical practitioner at ESNEFT. She said: “We’re excited to be at the forefront of healthcare innovation by becoming the first adopter of Neu Health for Parkinson’s care. This technology aligns with our commitment to providing the highest standard of care for our patients and identify patient needs earlier.”

The 90 patients using the app are the first in the UK as part of a pilot project.

Dr Andrew Graham is a consultant neurologist at ESNEFT. He said: “This is a really interesting opportunity to move monitoring and care for a chronic condition like Parkinson’s out of the hospital clinic and into people’s homes, where it belongs.

“The app’s symptom logging features and its capability to do reliable assessments of people’s motor function using just their regular smartphone are very impressive. I also particularly like the way the app links directly to information resources from Parkinson’s UK to help people with Parkinson’s better understand and self-manage their condition.”

The app has been built using 10 years of research, disease progression analysis and clinical validation by neurologists and data scientists from the University of Oxford.

Neu Health’s co-founder and Chief Medical Officer Dr Kinan Muhammed said: “We are delighted to partner with ESNEFT on this novel and transformative initiative. This has the potential to reshape the way neurology care is delivered within the NHS, ultimately benefiting both patients and healthcare professionals.”

Jo Dempsey, principal advisor at Health Innovation East, said: “Jane and Andrew’s experiences demonstrates how the Neu Health app empowers patients to shape their care by providing an accurate representation of their health status.

“As the regional innovation arm of the NHS we believe that great ideas make a difference for our health when they are put into practice.

“We are delighted to have connected Neu Health with ESNEFT and the local health and care system to accelerate the development and potential of the app through this pilot. We look forward to continuing to support this innovative platform to improve the lives of people with Parkinson’s.”

Richard Watson is the deputy chief executive and director of strategy and transformation at SNEE ICB. He said: “Identifying emerging healthcare innovations promptly is essential as they hold the potential to rapidly transform care and deliver direct benefits to patients.

“By working together with Health Innovation East, ESNEFT and Neu Health we have been able to introduce new technology that will make a real difference to patients living with Parkinson’s and those who support them.”

More information about Parkinson’s disease and the symptoms is available on the NHS website.

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