Sun rises on Dawn Health, Novartis' health-tracking app for multiple sclerosis

A new day has dawned for people with multiple sclerosis, thanks to the launch of a new app that aims to help them better understand the disease and, in doing so, improve their care.

The app, dubbed Ekiva-MS, is the first result of the partnership between Novartis and Danish health-focused software developer Dawn Health. Their team-up was announced in February of this year with a goal of creating a software platform equipped with tech tools that’ll help individuals manage a wide range of chronic diseases.

According to an announcement unveiling Ekiva-MS on Tuesday, the duo was able to launch their first offering within six months by relying both on close collaboration with actual MS patients and on their respective expertise—Novartis’ wealth of disease research and work in digital health, and Dawn’s development of digital therapeutics and other software-as-a-medical-device tools.

Ekiva-MS works by collecting a variety of health and behavioral data that users can then review to better understand how MS impacts their lives. Dawn and Novartis are hoping that that knowledge gives users more confidence to work closely with their healthcare providers to shape treatment plans around their individual needs.

The app collects those data in multiple ways: by asking users to manually track changes in their symptoms and overall quality of life, and by using their smartphones’ built-in sensors to capture other day-to-day information.

Ekiva-MS also integrates other existing health-tracking tools, including the dreaMS software developed by Switzerland’s Healios AG. DreaMS administers assessments to MS patients via their smartphones according to a doctor-tailored schedule, all with an aim of measuring movement, balance, dexterity and vision as digital biomarkers.

As Ekiva-MS gathers more information about users, it offers tips to help manage symptoms. It also compiles all of the collected data into a single report that can be shared with healthcare providers and in which users can flag certain instances or information that they’d like to discuss during their next check-up.

The app is launching first in Germany, where it’s now available for free download on MS patients’ own smartphones.

Novartis is no stranger to the world of digital health. In the last few years alone, the Swiss Big Pharma has inked collaborations with tech developers to build out digital therapeutics for lazy eye, software platforms to improve heart disease management and more.

Among its most recent health tech partnerships is one with Anumana that set sail last year in search of new artificial intelligence-based algorithms that could catch dangerous cases of heart disease as early as possible, well before symptoms arise.