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Take Your Doctor With You
April 1, 2015   
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A new mobile application designed by young inventors from the Gdańsk University of Technology will help smartphone users make sure that they take their medicines in a safe manner.

Called Dr Pocket, the mobile app warns patients about medicines that mix badly with alcohol, tells them which prescription drugs affect their ability to drive and what drugs should not be taken by pregnant and breast-feeding women. The app is not meant to replace professional medical advice, but it can provide an extra safety check for patients who forget to inform their doctors of minor health issues and other medicines they are taking.

Dr Pocket has been designed by a team of six people, including Marcin Michalak, a graduate of the Gdańsk University of Technology’s Faculty of Electronics, Telecommunications and Informatics, and Mateusz Zauliczny, a chemical technology graduate who is a postgraduate student of the university’s Faculty of Chemistry. Michalak, who majored in biomedical engineering, cites allergies as an example where the application comes in particularly handy. Using Dr Pocket, a patient who is already taking several drugs can check if new ones prescribed by a doctor could have undesired effects when mixed with the others. This is important for patients who forget to ask such questions while seeing their physicians.

Zauliczny says the app he helped design is essentially a system that ensures safer use of medicines. “You don’t always have the package leaflet at hand,” says Zauliczny. “Dr Pocket is meant to make life easier especially for those who take lots of different drugs.”

As part of the system, text messages will be sent at specific times to the phones of Dr Pocket users, reminding them to take their pills. If a person fails to properly respond to a reminder, another message is sent to the patient’s carer.

When prescribed a new drug, a patient needs to scan the bar code on the packaging with his or her smartphone or enter the drug’s name in the app’s search engine. Data contained in the app comes from Poland’s official register of medicines.

Dr Pocket is a telemedicine tool targeted at health centers as well as patients. The application will be turned in a commercial product by a company that the young inventors have established at the Starter Business Incubator in Gdańsk. The incubator also offered them support to develop the project.

Work on Dr Pocket began in January 2014 and is ongoing. The team from Gdańsk have recently been compiling a database of foreign counterparts of medicines available in Poland, complete with trade names. Selected components of the Dr Pocket system are now available free from the Google Play store, while the full version of the app will be launched halfway through this year.

Karolina Olszewska
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