Japanese health app maker Welby announced three new apps last month developed in partnership with pharma companies. Welby will add to its lineup three apps available only in Japan: an app for irritable bowel disease patients with Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen; an app for pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) patients with Japanese pharma company Nippon Shinyaku, and an app for rheumatoid arthritis patients with UCB Japan.
Welby's approach to digital health tools is to work directly with large, global pharmaceutical companies on patient-facing apps. It was founded in 2011 and is licensed as a medical device company, but it has also been involved in a few different areas of health technology. The company makes an open platform for personal health records and data aggregation which can connect to medical devices, activity trackers and manual-input data from lab tests or prescriptions.
The IBD app is the company's second app for Janssen -- they launched an app for ADHD in March -- and fourth app this year. The app, IBD Supli, is intended for patients with either Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis and allows patients to record data such as symptoms and information about bowel movements, then transmit that data securely to their care team or print out a record (including a QR code that leads to an online platform) to show their doctor. The app also provides a space for patients to jot down questions they want to ask their doctor on their next visit.
Welby is working with Nippon Shinyaku on its app for PAH, called PAH Care Note. The app is similar to the IBD app but has more of a focus on medication adherence. Patients can track their adherence data and also see it retrospectively in graphs and charts. The app also contains links to educational material from Nippon Shinyaku.
Finally, the rheumatoid arthritis app, with UCB Japan, is called Rheumatism Diary. It is also for tracking symptoms, such as pain and mood changes. Patients can access this data in charts and graphs that they can also share with their physician. Rheumatoid Diary also includes a medication alarm to remind patients to take their medications.
Welby works with at least 10 pharmaceutical companies altogether, making apps for lifestyle-related illnesses, chronic pain, central nervous system diseases, oncology, immunology, and rare diseases. While the company has no near-term plans to expand outside Japan (according to a March MobiHealthNews interview) successful performances might encourage the pharma companies to do similar patient engagement work in other countries.