Novartis-backed app provides social support for chronic hives patients

By Jonah Comstock
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Exco InTouch has launched a new app that creates a disease-specific social network for people with chronic urticaria, or hives. The app, called Target My Hives, was developed with funding and support from Novartis.

The app, available on Android and Apple devices, was just formally announced by the companies, but it currently has 2,000 patients registered from 61 countries. It launched in May. Users can enter information like their level of control over their hives or what triggers them and be matched anonymously with patients with similar symptoms. They can then share updates and offer support on a Facebook-like platform. Patients with similar symptoms can swap tips for living with hives, dealing with flare-ups, etc.

“Target My Hives is proving its value in opening up the much needed conversation between people affected and the wider healthcare community,” Exco InTouch CEO Tim Davis said in a statement. “To date, patients have already been reporting how much it is helping them manage their condition, and empowering them to share their own knowledge that may help others. Our mission is to connect everyone, patients, physicians and support groups together. But most importantly, we want to use technology to help patients to actively take control of the condition.”

While connecting patients is the main focus, the app also has tools for tracking the condition, a locator for finding a nearby specialist, and it can connect the user to a patient advocacy group. 

A look at the app’s associated website, myhives.com, also suggests that the community may be leveraged in the future for research purposes. 

“Target could help medical societies improve treatment for the whole chronic urticaria community,” Exco InTouch writes on the website. “Societies can assemble and distribute patient surveys using Target. If they wish, patients can fill these surveys in, generating data that researchers can access in real time. This data can be used to generate real-world evidence on chronic urticaria.”

Exco InTouch originally made its name as a mobile-enabled clinical trial company, but has in recent years begun partnering with pharma companies for patient-facing apps as well. For example, Exco launched a patient-facing app called MeAndMyCOPD in partnership with the NHS and AstraZeneca in 2013.