2007 was a tough year for Vincent Keunen and his family. Only three months after he was diagnosed with leukemia, doctors discovered that his 10-year-old son Pierre was suffering from an extremely rare form of cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. Although Pierre lost part of his right leg, and Vincent still takes medication, they are both in good health today– in large part due to progress made in modern medicine. The struggle with his own and his son’s battles with cancer motivated Vincent to contribute to medical research. He thought that if research was more advanced Pierre might have been able to keep his leg. This time in Vincent’s life also made him realize how difficult it is to access health data (even your own) and the low quality of medical information management.
Images: Pierre Keunen (left) & Vincent Keunen (right). Source: Andaman7.com
These observations inspired Vincent to launch Andaman7 in 2014. A Belgian eHealth company created by patients for patients, Vincent’s platform aims to empower patients, increase the speed of and contribute data to medical research, and facilitate remote patient monitoring for medical professionals. Vincent told Cancer World, “What drove me to develop Andaman7 initially was the goal of giving patients a way to easily collect data from all sources in a way that is easy for them to use.”
Figure 1: Source Andaman7.com
Andaman7 empowers patients and helps medical professionals
With Andaman7, Vincent created an app that aims to close the information management gap in the health sector and facilitates communication between medical professionals and patients. Andaman7 empowers users to take control of their own (or a dependent’s) health data by allowing patients to collect and enter all their health data from documents, connected devices, doctors’ and hospital records, and store them in one place. Patients can choose to share their data with medical professionals who can then use this data to manage patient health more efficiently, as they can monitor remote patients more easily. With sensitive data like health records, privacy is essential to gain consumer trust, which is why Andman7 has built patient privacy into its core. User data is never stored in the cloud, processed, shared, or changed by Andaman7. Instead, health data is only stored on users’ smartphones or tablets and shared only with people or medical professionals that the user explicitly chooses. When data is shared, it goes through Andman7’s servers encrypted so that user privacy is always protected.
Patient-reported outcomes and real-world evidence can contribute to medical research
The personal health record (PHR) created in Andaman7 can be combined with a health-intermediation platform (HIP) to assist medical research and care if the user agrees to share their data. Although, Andaman7 is (and will always be) a free app for all users, ranging from patients to health professionals like doctors and nurses, companies or hospitals are required to pay a fee if they want to access the HIP for research (only if patients have given consent). Andaman7 is available in 22 languages and has been downloaded by patients in 35 countries, and in 2018, the company also expanded its services to the U.S. market. As of May 2019, the majority of Americans are now able to retrieve their health data from hospitals and medical laboratories through the app.
Mobile platforms enable small and medium-sized companies like Andaman7 to thrive and immediately access a large customer base. Andaman7 is in use in project collaborations with the Liege University Hospital, the Lithuanian National Cancer Patients Association, and the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and helps thousands of people who are battling cancer just like Vincent did. Andaman7 is an inspiring example of someone who has gone through hardship and used his difficult personal experience to build a product that now makes thousands of lives easier.
The App Association is proud to represent Andaman7 and thousands of other innovative app developers across the United States, the European Union, and the rest of the world. Success stories like Andman7 demonstrate the dynamism of the app ecosystem, and the opportunities it provides for businesses and consumers in the 21st century.