When Will Tweedy was first diagnosed with throat cancer late last year, his friends and family were eager to check up on him — but the last thing he wanted to do was pick up the phone and chat.
"The pain was really bad. I basically couldn't talk," Tweedy said.
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That's when he turned to ConnectedCare, an iOS app that helps older people and people with chronic health issues log their personal health data like blood pressure, temperature, heart rate, pain level, breathing difficulty, food intake and more, and seamlessly share it with family, friends and caregivers.
"I signed all these friends and family members up and they could tell how I was doing without having to answer 20 different text messages and phone calls," Tweedy said.
The app's developer, Dr. Jim Rhorer, works in emergency medicine at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center and decided that, with the current coronavirus crisis forcing millions to stay at home, now would be the perfect time to roll out the app to the public.
"If you're ill or quarantined you could choose to have a very restricted group of people monitor your health," he said.
The app is now available free of charge to the public.
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Rhorer's inspiration came from his experience caring for his 95-year-old mother. The youngest of seven children, some of whom are scattered across the country, Rhorer found it increasingly difficult to coordinate his mother's health needs.
The app allows each of his siblings to continuously monitor their mother's blood pressure readings, pain levels and food intake — typed into the app by a caregiver, family member or the patient themselves. The app is customizable depending on the health condition that is monitored.
"There are lots of caregivers that just do amazing jobs in taking care of our loved ones," Rhorer said. "This is an opportunity for them to reassure family members."
The app also records critical data like which medicines a user is taking, information that Rhorer has noticed is especially difficult for patients to keep track of. He said its common for a patient or caregiver to show up at the hospital with a cluttered bag of medicines.
"I thought, 'how can we organize something so that when I walk into a patient's room that I don't know, the person with them, who may not be their regular care giver, can immediately tell me what medicines they take and why," Rhorer said.
The app also allows users to track health data and easily email it in a report to a doctor.
"He really has a unique perspective," said Logan Leger, founder of NewAperio, a Baton Rouge-based software firm that Rhoher hired to help develop the app. "These types of apps aren't always built by doctors."
The app is compatible with Androids, iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch and is listed on Apple's App Store under Connected Care for Families.