Iodine's new antidepressant tracking app sets sights on postpartum depression

By Jonah Comstock
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Iodine StartIodine, the crowdsourced drug review startup that launched last year, is continuing to focus on antidepressants. Three weeks ago, the company launched an iOS app called Start to help users document their experience with antidepressants, and today the company announced a partnership with Postpartum Progress, a nonprofit that supports women with postpartum depression.

"Start is our mobile health program designed to help people track their experience with an antidepressant and determine if it’s working for them as fast as possible," the company wrote in a blog post. "It helps people know what to expect from a medication, and also helps them remember to take it. For those who feel their medication isn’t working - which could be as many as half, judging by medical research - we help them talk to their doctor about options."

The app includes both symptom trackers and medication reminders, and also checks in with a questionnaire every two weeks to track the patient's depression status. At six weeks, when an antidepressant should have kicked in, it delivers a data report so users can objectively evaluate whether it's working for them. It also delivers crowdsourced insights and tips from other users of the same drug from Iodine's website, and integrates with HealthKit to pull in data on sleep, weight gain, and activity.

"Many people dealing with depression could endure a year or more of trial and error before finding the right treatment. Start turns validated clinical tools and guidelines into an app-based program to make finding a suitable treatment a more positive, more efficient process," Iodine co-founder Thomas Goetz, said in a statement. "We think this can be especially valuable for new mothers, and we're thrilled to work with Postpartum Progress to serve this community."

Through the partnership, Postpartum Progress members will have access to the app, which is already free, and will enter a special referral code to enroll in the postpartum project, which will allow their deidentified data to be shared with other women in the project.

"Through the collaboration with Postpartum Progress, we ... hope to learn what the community is experiencing, and learning, together," the company writes on its blog. "We anticipate that there are experiences and concerns unique to postpartum depression, and that there may be insights about what works best accordingly. We’ll share these learnings back to the community regularly. And of course we will make sure the privacy of every participant is absolutely protected; no individually identifiable information will be shared, ever."

Iodine launched in September 2014 with a direct-to-consumer price and quality comparison tool for pharmaceuticals. The company is building out its service, hoping to accrue a critical mass of users before settling on a business plan (which may or may not involve charging for the service). The company turned its focus on depression in May, with a large study called Iodine Timeline which asked patients taking an antidepressant to track their symptoms for one month via short email surveys.

This is the second app recently to put a special focus on postpartum depression, which is thought to affect one in seven women. Last November, women's health app developer Glow added features for supporting women with postpartum depression to its pregnancy app, Glow Nurture.