Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine living without the crucial impact of new technologies. They represent a significant part of our everyday lives, improving and modernising nearly every industry that comes to mind. One of the essential mergers is undoubtedly that of technology and medicine. Thanks to the continuous implementation of advanced solutions, physicians can better focus on the core part of their challenging role – saving lives.
Continuous development in medical technology contributes to an improvement in diagnosis, surgical procedures, treatment, and patient care. It influences various areas of healthcare, including advancements in medical devices, biotechnology, information technology, pharmaceuticals, and many more. Every innovation is valuable, and even small contributions can make a significant difference in enhancing medical practice.
The increased use of mobile technologies such as tablets or smartphones brings additional benefits in the form of well-developed practical apps. They can significantly affect physicians’ work by providing them with easy access to any vital information they need. This includes research, studies, drug information or even patients’ records. Having the capability to take mobile devices with you on the go makes this information accessible at any time and place.
VPM Library is one of many medical projects we have worked on over the past few years. As demanding and complicated as it might seem, we stepped up to the mark and made an application which is a useful tool for both medical students and practising physicians.
The app is composed of a vast knowledge base of psychotropic medicines that provides information about their mode of action, efficacy, and side effects. It’s a simple, interactive learning tool which also allows for modelling new medicines and saving the results for future reference.
The originator of the app is Professor David Nutt, who works as a psychiatrist and takes a particular interest in psychopharmacology. His fascination in drugs and the effect they have on human health led to extensive research and helped him in the process of his teaching. He’s an author of many books and publications created to explain the subject too.
When it turned out that his students had difficulties with studying the intricacies of pharmacology and using it correctly in their everyday practice, he came up with an idea to build the VPM app and make the task as simple as it could be. Beaconbrands has commissioned the project on behalf of the British Association for Psychopharmacology.
Professor Nutt needed us to build a useful medical application from scratch based on his experience and ideas.
The main challenges we faced were:
Learning all the necessary details about psychotropic medicines and appropriately prescribing them is an indispensable part of efficient treatment. The app was supposed to be an answer to all the difficulties students and physicians might have in matters of pharmacology. The most common problems occur mainly in acquiring the terminology used to explain drug efficacy and to define their classes.
Professor Nutt estimated that one of the best ways to study complex medical data is by using the manner of visualisation. Associating chosen drugs and their interactions with particular images is helpful while processing vast, often inaccessible, medical material.
But how do you visualise a drug and make the image plausible? Nearly all drug efficacies can be defined by drug binding to one of four types of proteins:
The critical component responsible for providing an exact drug specificity is a neurotransmitter that engages with these targets and is either enhanced or blocked by the drug.
We have implemented the flow designed by Professor David Nutt and his colleague Dr Sue Wilson using a set of clear and pleasant graphics to create a unique image for every psychotropic drug.
There are two main factors which describe all the medicines added to the library:
Both mechanisms illustrate them, e.g. receptor antagonist, uptake inhibitor, and include the target, e.g. dopamine or noradrenaline.
We used bold lines to present the most critical neurotransmitter actions and dotted lines to show the secondary or less important ones. We also included information concerning efficacy and the most popular side effects.
The VPM Library can be divided into nine key segments:
We have implemented the VPM Library app according to all the requirements and needs of our client and managed to succeed in achieving the undertaken goal. The application is now a useful, interactive learning tool for many students and good help for practising physicians. Besides, it’s always up-to-date with the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology publications which are a dependable source of information on the newest terminology for psychiatric drugs.