App will allow MS disability self-assessment by smartphone

Multiple sclerosis

By Michael Woodhead

9 Nov 2018

Prof Butkueven

Monitoring of MS disability is a challenge for busy neurology clinics, but self-assessment by patients with smartphone apps will be the way of the future, a leading neurologist says.

Next year should see the launch of apps that allow patients to actively assess their own cognition and motor function and pass on data to clinicians, says Professor Helmut Butkueven, from the Department of Neuroscience at Monash University.

Speaking at PACTRIMS 2018 in Sydney, the director of the MS Service at The Royal Melbourne Hospital said the use of apps would also allow passive monitoring of a patient’s gait and mobility, providing an ongoing picture of the stability or worsening of disability in MS.

One app, developed by Roche, had shown correlation with clinic-based tests in the FLOODLIGHT study and should be available for download from the App Store in Australia in 2019.

Professor Butkueven said earlier trials with disability self-assessment software at Monash had shown that patients with MS were willing to participate in regular serial assessment tests, and 90% of patients adhered with schedules for 600 days.

Serial assessment provided data that showed the trajectory of disability and minimised the effect of temporary variations, he said.

And if a patient chooses to share the data with their clinician, this can be combined with findings from MRI in a one-stop shop such as MS Base to inform ongoing treatment plans and decisions, he added.

“This is a value equation that I think people with MS will sign up to, a plan to work out if your drug is actually working or not – or whether we should switch the medication,” he said.

Another key feature of the app was that patients consented for their anonymised data to be open source and available for research, he added.

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