Benjamin King struggled to communicate with his brother and his mother as both sons took care of her while she had a brain tumor.
Even with today’s technology, communication between patients and caregivers is still overwhelming, he said. This is why King began thinking in 2016 about creating a new smartphone-based application called HealthSteps that helps users through caregiving.
“After my mom passed away is when I really started thinking that there really is no solution out there that utilizes these smartphones,” said King, the CEO and founder of HealthSteps.
The app, which was finalized in 2017,notifies users when to take medication. It also syncs health care plans between multiple caregivers.
Iif a babysitter or another family member is taking care of a child, King said, the parents can share the HealthSteps care plan with each other directly.
The app isn’t just for humans. King’s wife, Marissa, uses HealthSteps for their two cats, Mittens and Patches.
Dr. William Slayton, the chief of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology at UF Health, said he thinks the app would work well for families where children live with two sets of parents and for elderly patients who have multiple caregivers.
“It could be used not just in cancer treatment but anybody with a chronic illness,” Slayton said. “It would be a great way to monitor and clearly communicate a plan to a family and for them to monitor the plan.”
In July, Slayton began overseeing a trial of the app. It will be used by a group of 20 pediatric oncology patients.
As of now, ten patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia are enrolled in the eight-week trial. The trial will end after the 20th patient uses the app for eight weeks.
King and his five-member team will meet this week with the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville to encourage a 3,000-patient pilot project there.
While the app is free to users, King hopes to sell the platform online to health care providers and clinical researchers, so they can collect the data and see how their patients are doing.
Slayton said the health care app is available to everyone with a smartphone.
“It’s using a technology that everyone has, at least in the United States,” he said.
King hopes the app will resolve issues that come with printing medical information.
“Traditionally, they get that sheet of paper that has a list of medications, when they should take them, what symptoms to look out for, what instructions to follow,” King said. “And that piece of paper always gets lost.”