Arthritis Tracker for Teens: from a seed of an idea to an app

A group working on the young people's app.

For young people living with arthritis, medical appointments are an important part of their life. Whether they’re talking to their rheumatologist or another health professional. One key question that often comes up and which many young people struggle to answer is: “How have you been?”

Such a simple question. However, it can be surprisingly difficult to answer, especially if you are a young person living with a chronic condition like arthritis. Some people simply can’t remember all the details, and others struggle to sum up in just a few sentences several months’ worth of symptoms and side effects.

This was the one of the key challenges we sought to address when we developed the Arthritis Tracker for Teens, our app for young people with arthritis.

How did this challenge kick-start our app?

The idea for the app was born after the Young People & Family Service in Northern Ireland took part in the Techies in Residence programme.

This programme was the catalyst which started the whole process and took us and the young people we work with on an exciting journey.

Even though we didn’t know what the outcome would be, we could see the potential of using digital tech to address the challenges our young people were facing. We decided if we could develop something good, it was worth throwing ourselves into the deep end to find out!

Collaboration and research

To make sure the end result would be truly helpful to people, we needed our ‘users’ at the heart of the design and development. We invited young people living with arthritis to get involved and share their ideas, very soon a strong one emerged. This was the start of our app journey.

Our vision was to build a health tracking app which allowed young people to track their arthritis symptoms and side effects and provide hints on what they should say at their next appointment. It was important to us to use the app to encourage positive habits to help improve their condition, e.g. staying active.

We also wanted the tech to help young people to connect with others age, who understood what it was like to be a teenager or young adult living with arthritis.

Development and design

After a few months and a lot of hard work we had a prototype in our hands.

To get to this point we’d spent hours collaborating, talking and running focus groups. One of our young people even helped us develop and deliver a Dragon’s Den-style pitch. We also got advice and input from our local paediatric rheumatology team and this ended up successfully securing our position on the programme.

What an achievement! However, little did we know how much more work would be ahead of us to grow this fantastic idea from prototype to a live, publicly available app for young people across the UK.

Getting ready for launch

Fast forward to over two years later…After more hard work, a round of funding from the Social Innovation Seed Fund (Community Foundation NI), and some further investment from Versus Arthritis - we've done it!

We are delighted to share with you the Arthritis Tracker for Teens. THANK YOU to all those who’ve helped us get to this point.

We’ve had an amazing community of young people, parents and health professionals from across UK involved. All of you shared your experience, gave your opinions and helped with testing. Now, it’s time for the next chapter.

Get involved

Be part of our journey and help us to keep developing our app for young people with arthritis. Get more information about the app including links to download the app from the Apple Store (for iPhone users) and Google Play Store (for Android Users).

Whether you are a young person, a parent, or a health professional working with young people with arthritis, we want to hear your feedback. Try it out and let us know what you think by clicking on the feedback button in the app or emailing apps@versusarthritis.org.

Be part of the change and help us use tech for good.