Most migraine apps are dumb. They act like glorified notebooks for you to track symptoms and self-diagnose; nothing more. Migraine Buddy, an ambitious Android app developed in Singapore, aims to be far more useful.
Think of it as a doctor who’s always there. The app tries to understand what causes your headaches and how best to stop them from happening. Besides asking questions about your migraine, habits, and medication with a questionaire, it knows what you’re up to by collecting data about sleep and movement patterns using your smartphone’s sensors. This makes sense since doctors say that sleep deprivation and rigorous physical activity could cause migraines.
Once the app collects enough data about you, it creates a report highlighting when the symptoms happened, and what were the top triggers. It even finds out the most effective medication for you by recording when you used them and comparing that information with the severity of the migraines.
“It mimics how a doctor prescribes different medication to patients to figure out what works,” says Veronica Chew, co-founder of Healint, the startup behind Migraine Buddy. “Most other migraine apps are not as comprehensive. We collect data that’s action-driven, so that we can help patients make the right decisions.”
The app is now available in Singapore through several neurologists and neurosurgeons, including Dr Michael Yap. The startup will partner with more physicians in private and public institutions soon. While any Android user can download the app, they’ll need a special access code from a clinician to use it.
And for good reason: the app allows doctors to remotely access live data about the patient. In this way, it’s not designed to replace physicians, but to allow them to do their jobs better.
Users would naturally express concern over data privacy. But Chew says that thieves would not be able to steal the data in the event of phone loss. The app stores your identifier in a different location from the data, which means hackers must crack two servers instead of one to compromise your privacy.
Migraine sufferers living outside Singapore and not using Android shouldn’t fret: Healint is working on a ‘lite’ version of the app which works even without seeing a doctor. The company plans to develop an iPhone version too, after it figures out how to work with the device’s sensors. Beyond Singapore, the company will engage physicians in Malaysia.
Founded in 2013, Healint has since raised over S$200,000 (US$161,000) from seed investors. It was also a part of JFDI, a premier startup accelerator in Singapore. Migraine isn’t the only problem Healint is trying to solve. It released JustShakeIt, an Android app that allows stroke sufferers to send alerts to their caregivers.
The startup uses its apps to crowdsource data, which it will then analyze to spot patterns. It will eventually develop apps and services targeting conditions like epilepsy, COPD, and asthma.
Co-founder Francois Cadiou started the company for a personal reason. One day, he received a call from a neighbor who did not see Cadiou’s dad for three days. Worried, they searched for him, but to no avail. He was later found in one of the local hospitals, and had been in coma for two days. He eventually woke up.
“I started searching for solutions that allow patients [to be] followed without making their lives more complex,” he says. That led to an idea for an emergency alert app, which later became JustShakeIt.