FOLUP – a play on words on ‘follow up’– is a free innovative eHealth platform designed especially for chronic patients to capture information between consultations.

In a recent discussion with eHealthNews, CEO of FOLUP, Simon Spurr, talked about the uptake of FOLUP in South Africa and the potential it has for improving the management of chronic disease through patient engagement.

Having been involved in the South African private healthcare industry for 13 years, Spurr’s relationship with FOLUP began 18 months ago. “FOLUP was initially launched in Europe and the US in late 2012. FOLUP founder and Chief Medical Officer, Geoffrey Appelboom, then came to South Africa to evaluate the potential of launching FOLUP into the African market, which is when I got involved. Geoff introduced me to the platform and I quickly realised the great potential it has for the local healthcare landscape.”

According to Spurr, the uptake of FOLUP in South Africa has been positive among a wide range of disease populations, with over 5000 patients already registered in the database. “The platform was designed as a monitoring system for chronic patients to help digitise the process that they’re already doing. For example, diabetics can use FOLUP to monitor glucose levels, food intake, activity, etc.” said Spurr.

FOLUP essentially acts like a digitised diary in that it provides the ability to capture the patient’s mood, record pain locations and blood pressure; “it’s a simple way to store information that can later be presented back to their doctor,” said Spurr.

“The value of FOLUP is that it allows patients to engage in their own healthcare and create portable electronic health records that are easily accessible when they change health insurers or even go overseas,” continued Spurr.

FOLUP also integrates with wearable devices and hardware platforms, extracting data wirelessly or via Bluetooth so patients don’t have to manually enter their information. “FOLUP also has its own low-cost Pebble activity tracker that measures the patient’s activity metrics, which is then sent to the cloud and available to the practitioner in real-time,” said Spurr.

Regarding the future of FOLUP in South Africa, Spurr noted that “our ultimate goal is to partner with large enterprises such as insurers and medical aids, as well as research institutions; we want to use the rich data our platform is generating to further understand risk management and patient outcomes – all in compliance with protection laws.”

Spurr also revealed that there are numerous plans underway on the practitioner side to develop specialist apps for healthcare providers. In particular, a new release that focusses on managing patients who are discharged from hospital will be available in the coming weeks.

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