Since its launch last year, the nOCD smartphone and smartwatch app has become the largest Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) community in the world.
Stephen Smith, a former Economics and Chinese language student at Pomona College in the US, developed the idea for the app in 2014 after he was diagnosed with OCD, a mental health condition that’s characterised by having unreasonable thoughts and fears that lead to compulsive behaviours.
Despite receiving medical treatment, Smith often struggled with severe OCD symptoms when he was alone. “When I would see my doctor, it was problematic since self-reporting is subjective and OCD patients commonly doubt some of the most basic things about themselves or about whatever they are doing,” said Smith in an interview with the Chicago Tribune last year.
Smith’s frustration at the lack of resources available to help him with his treatment led to him collaborating with his best friend turned business partner, Daniel Greenfield, to develop an app that could help him and other people living with OCD access treatment when they needed it most.
After obtaining $80,000 in funding from private investors, the duo launched a beta iOS version of the nOCD app in February 2016 followed by the version one launch nine months later in November.
“The app offers patients structured treatment in the moment, while their episode is occurring. It walks them through the steps to manage the episode, and then offers the clinically-proven cognitive therapy based on the episode,” said Smith.
Other than providing Exposure Therapy by guiding the user through treatment exercises, the nOCD app also allows users to join support groups of people who understand them and view objective data about their treatment progress.
nOCD also automatically collects real-time data, such as biometrics, location and time of day, which can be analysed and shared with doctors to help inform better OCD treatment and Exposure Therapy decisions.
A third function of the app is that it allows users to create an organised plan, set reminders telling them when to start treatment, view custom prompts based on their trigger hierarchy and receive input from their therapist.
According to the nOCD team, to date their app is being used by over 10,000 users in 46 different countries and, as of July 2017, it has become the largest OCD community in the world.
The data being generated by the app is also being used to help improve OCD treatment. “Through nOCD’s community and anonymised dataset, we help industry recruit better participants for clinical trials, know more about patient treatment adherence, and distribute clinically-effective interventions globally,” said nOCD.
The nOCD app is available for free for Apple devices on iTunes and is expected to be available for Android devices in the future.