2023/05/25

Digital Health from a Healthcare Perspective (Part 10)

Japan's Largest App for Atopic Dermatitis Patients “Atopiyo”

Dermatology/Skin disease, Medical communication, Imaging technology, Digital Therapeutics (DTx), Japan, Disease management and Patient monitoring, Clinical Doctor

Service for Atopic Patients Created from the Patient's Perspective

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Source: Shutterstock

Atopic Dermatitis Patients Increasing in Recent Years
According to a patient survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, the number of atopic dermatitis patients has more than doubled in the last 30 years, with the total number exceeding 500,000. 1) Atopic dermatitis is a disease that commonly develops in infancy and childhood and often remits and relapses after that, but there are also cases of onset in adolescence and adulthood, although less frequently. 2)

When I examine patients in the outpatient clinic, I find that there are a surprisingly large number of cases in which patients cannot correctly assess the extent of their symptoms. Especially when the condition becomes chronic, it is difficult to realize how much it has changed compared to the past and how severe the current skin condition is. In addition, it is essential to continue treatment for atopic dermatitis, and it is desirable to monitor the progress of symptoms to maintain the patient's motivation.

Source: Atopiyo LLC

I would like to introduce “Atopiyo,” an atopic dermatitis visualization app developed to solve these issues.
“Atopiyo” is the first app in Japan that allows users to record and share their symptoms by posting “images” of their skin conditions. Mr. Ryotaro Ako, the representative of Atopiyo LLC, developed this app based on his experience with atopic dermatitis, aiming to support the early recovery of people suffering from atopic dermatitis. The innovative service has won various awards, and this year it was selected as one of the “Service Innovation 2022 in Japan*1”. 3)

Mr. Ryotaro Ako, the representative of Atopiyo LLC
Source: Atopiyo LLC

Comparison of Symptoms with Images
“Atopiyo” is one of Japan's largest communities of atopic dermatitis patients, with 23,000 downloads (as of March 2023). It is free to use and allows users to anonymously record and share their skin symptoms specific to atopic dermatitis. As many as 9,000 images out of a total of 53,000 images have been made public (as of March 2023), allowing users to view images of various degrees of severity.

Patients rarely have the opportunity to show each other their skin symptoms directly. This app allows patients to interact with other patients with similar skin conditions to build camaraderie and share useful information for treatment. In addition, since it is difficult for the general public to score skin symptoms, it is revolutionary to be able to intuitively find similar symptoms in images that can be easily searched by region or symptom on the app.

Source: Atopiyo LLC

Improving Adherence to Treatment
With “Atopiyo,” users can record symptoms for each part of the body simply by taking pictures of the extremities, face, and other parts of the body. The contents of meals and medications can also be saved as images and used as a diary. By setting the app to private, users can keep the images as their own personal record and check the progress of their symptoms at a glance.

If patients can feel that their symptoms are improving with treatment, their motivation will increase. Itching, which is difficult to evaluate, can be rated on a 5-point scale, so users can easily track changes over time. Furthermore, by making it a daily habit like a diary, they can prevent forgetting to use the topical treatment.

Source: Shutterstock

For Anxious Children in Treatment
For parents with children, anxiety is an inherent part of child-rearing. Even if they have concerns or questions about treatment, they cannot afford to take their children to the hospital frequently. However, it is difficult to remember the progress of symptoms in a busy daily life. Also, it is common for small children to not be allowed to apply the medicine as prescribed.
With “Atopiyo,” parents can keep a detailed record of the daily progress of symptoms and the degree of topical treatment, making it easier for parents to notice any exacerbating factors. In addition, for children of a certain age, the progress can be explained to them by showing them images. Furthermore, it is also attractive to exchange information with other parents in the same situation.

Source: Shutterstock

Useful for Doctors
From the point of view of the doctor who examines the patient, the photographs and topical treatment records recorded in the patient's “Atopiyo” can also be useful as a reference for treatment. By looking at the progress of a patient who has a long interval between visits or whose symptoms fluctuate, the doctor can look back on past and current symptoms and advise on treatment. In addition, since the photos are not kept in the medical record at every consultation, it provides an opportunity to notice the characteristics of each patient, such as triggers of aggravation and habits of topical treatment methods, and to propose the most appropriate treatment.

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The information contained in this article is compiled by the respective authors based on publicly available information. We assume no responsibility whatsoever for any damage or disadvantage caused by actions taken based on such information. Unauthorized reproduction of articles, photos, charts, etc. is prohibited.
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