Chronic Illness · Product Review · Sharing is Caring

Asthma Storylines Health Tracking Application – Review

Disclaimer: For my honest review, I am being compensated through the Chronic Illness Bloggers group. Even though I’m receiving compensation for my review, all opinions of the product/service are accurate and reflect my true thoughts about the product/service. I was in no way influenced by the company or CIB.

I was selected to review the “Asthma Storylines” mobile application (for Android) by Health Storylines (link). For context, I was using this application on an LG G5 running Android Nougat (7.0). I used this app daily for one week prior to writing this review, and overall I’m quite impressed! Of course, there are a few things that could use some tweaking (like in every single application I’ve ever used, of any type), but it’s an impressive health tracking app!

Actually, I wasn’t just impressed, I was extremely happy. It’s a very thorough health tracking app, and definitely not just for asthma management – despite the name. There are several different tools to utilize, and the ones I used most extensively were: Symptoms, Medication Tracker, Routine Builder, and Daily Asthma Control. Since I fiddled with the rest of the app as well, my overall impression (at the bottom) takes the entire experience into consideration, not just these four tools.

Set-Up

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Main menu of the app, reached with the lower left icon (9 dots)

Overall, the setup process for the app is extremely easy and user friendly. The process does a very good job of starting your profile. I forgot to get screenshots of the process because I was setting it up while in the waiting room prior to my second SI joint injection. It really was that fast! You enter your name, some symptoms, medications, conditions, and other personal information. There is a little space to improve, but everything is editable later anyway, so it’s really not a big deal.

One of the things that surprised me at setup was that it only allowed me to enter three medications at setup before it automatically advanced to the next screen; I take a larger than average amount of medication, so that didn’t bother me much (I didn’t feel like entering all of my medication while I was sitting in the waiting room anyway). Luckily, it’s extremely easy to add more medications once you are past the setup process.

I was surprised, however, that some conditions that often coincide with asthma are not available to enter at all. For me, these included allergies (an a common asthma) and eosinophilic esophagitis (no eosinophilic conditions at all). To some degree, I do understand the lack of eosinophilia, as it’s a rare disease, but not having allergies was shocking to me!  I found out later that to track allergies, they could be added as a custom symptom instead of a condition.

Post Set-Up Experience

Symptoms

The Good

Adding symptoms to the symptom list is extremely easy. After you’ve entered symptoms at setup, your home screen will have an expandable “symptoms” menu. In the title bar of the symptoms menu is a little gear button that opens the screen to edit your symptoms list. You simply click “add symptom” and enter the symptom name and any notes about it. In this tool, you can add custom symptoms simply by typing a name for a symptom that isn’t already in their database. To delete symptoms, you just click on “update symptoms” then click “remove” next to the symptom you wish to delete.

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History graphs for symptoms

To track your symptoms, there are easy to use slider bars on the app home screen (one for each symptom with a 0-10 range). Adjusting the slider saves the number for the day; I recommend doing this right before bed, as I haven’t been able to figure out if they’re editable in case the symptoms change later. There is even an automatically added “impact of symptoms on day” slider!

Once you’ve been logging for a while, you can see a visual representation of your symptom fluctuation. From any menu where the navigation bar is visible at the bottom of the app, you can click on the graph symbol. You can also see symptom history by clicking on “history” in the upper right corner of the symptom editing menu. Each day will have a bar for each symptom, with larger bars for worse symptoms. I absolutely loved seeing the graph, and it really illustrated how bad my joint problems have been lately!

Things That Could Improve

Overall, the symptom tracker was my favorite tool. However, I wish I could edit a symptom once I’d entered a number. If they were editable, it would be a lot easier for me to accurately track my symptoms. By the end of the day, I’m usually so tired that I can’t be sure I’m always accurately representing/remembering how I felt during the day. Being able to rate symptoms as they occur would be great! So, if my wheezing is almost gone for most of the day, but then spikes in the afternoon, then it’d be great to be able to change it from a 1 to a 5. Really though, it’s my favorite tool! Entering symptoms at night really isn’t much of a problem, and would probably be when I would do most of the logging anyway.

EDIT 5/4/2017: I received an email from Asthma Storylines letting me know that they have added an edit feature to most of the tools/trackers!

Medication Tracker

The Good
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The history graphs for “Daily Moods” and “Medication Tracker”

I did not feel like entering all of my medications into the tracker, as I take so many. I only put in three of my morning pills, the pill I have to take at dinner time, and three of my nighttime pills. When you add a medication, you can set the app to remind you to take the medication at a set time. When the reminder time is reached, a popup shows up over whatever screen you’re currently using (it will show up over games or the internet) and will ding and vibrate (based on the in-app settings). From the popup, you can “snooze” the reminder, and choose from three options for snooze time: 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or 1 hour. You can also mark the medication as taken or missed straight from the reminder popup! I love that I didn’t have to open the app to log the medications.

Medication adherence is also tracked in the graphs section, reached from the navigation bar at the bottom.

Things That Could Improve

If you take a ton of medications at one time, like I do, I would not recommend setting reminders for all of them. Your phone will ding and vibrate for each medication, not just once for several of them. In the morning, my phone goes off three times, and the same at night. If you need the reminder, just set it for one medication and then open the app to log the rest (you can log them from the app home screen in an expandable menu). I’m actually going to completely get rid of my morning and night reminders, as I don’t have consistent bed times or wake times and I do not usually forget them due to my morning and night routines. The reminder for my dinner pill, however, is fantastic! I always forget to take the pill with dinner, and the reminder has showed a positive increase in consistency – before the reminder I almost always ended up taking it before bed.

Some of the medications are also confusing to enter. I take a prenatal vitamin every morning, and I needed to pick a specific brand/dose. The brands that were in the app, I don’t even think I’ve seen, let alone taken. I just ended up picking a random one and put a note in the notes field that mine isn’t the brand shown. One of my medications gave me about seven different options, and three of them were identical. I’m really not sure why that happened, but I was able to pick the correct dosage. If you run into similar problems, I would recommend picking the closest match, then putting the correct information in the notes field after you select a medication.

Routine Builder

The Good

This tool has a lot of promise, but my opinion of it right now is mostly apathetic. You enter routine items, such as “wake up and take blood pressures,” add some notes, and set reminders. When you’re reminded, you open the app and go to the routine builder (in the menu at the top of the home screen). Here you can see your full list of items, and mark them either completed or missed. These are editable from midnight to midnight, and you can edit them multiple times. It will then fill out a chart showing a week of history for each routine item.

Things That Could Improve

You cannot go back and edit the previous day. If you forget to enter an item for the day, then you will just have a white square in your chart. This actually caused me to delete my “go to bed” and “go to sleep” items, because I could rarely get them logged before midnight.

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Routine Builder screenshots: the

Also, every single routine item displays on the list at all times. In the list, you cannot see if you’ve marked things as completed or missed already, meaning that I re-mark everything every time I open the routine builder to make sure I’ve logged all of them. This makes the log under the chart look odd, as it records the items you logged each time they are marked through the day. Because of that, I only look at the chart to see if I’ve been sticking to my routine.

I would love to see these notifications popup in a similar manner to the medication notifications! Being able to say “oh, I did that” from any screen on my phone would be much easier than having to remember to open the application to log it.

EDIT 5/4/2017: I received an email from Asthma Storylines letting me know that they have added an edit feature to most of the tools/trackers!

Daily Asthma Control

The Good

This is great for once daily use! (It is possible to have multiple entries a day, but I think it shows a clearer picture if done once right before bed.)

asthma control history small
What the graph and log look like for the “Daily Asthma Control” tool

First, you enter data on three numerical sliders, which measure the impact symptoms have had on different aspects of your life that day. Second, choose a range for how many times you’ve used your rescue inhaler or nebulizer. Third, enter the items that triggered your symptoms using the radio button list and/or custom triggers you enter in a text box. The three different numerical sliders are graphed, so you can see trends over time, and then you can click on the text below the graph to show the answers to the rest of the questions.

Things That Could Improve

I could not figure out if there was a way to set a reminder for this tool. Adding a reminder would definitely help. Tracking asthma symptoms is a great way to determine if your asthma is truly under control and helps to get more effective treatment. In fact, I would love to see a “symptoms” section in this tool so that you can track which symptoms you have with each asthma episodes. Some of my episodes are just wheezing, some are just chest tightness, sometimes it’s just coughing; being able to easily see which symptoms I have most would be very helpful!

The App in General

The Good

This is one of the best and most comprehensive health tracking apps I’ve seen and used. It has a large suite of trackers that can be added and utilized that are not just related to asthma. It’s relatively easy to use, and the graphs make it easier to share the information with your doctor(s). I haven’t used it to share with my doctors yet, but I do really think it will help to have solid numerical data to back up my statements. I would definitely recommend using this app to help keep track of your health and health-related routines!

other tools small
Other useful tools (clockwise from top left): Task Challenger (great way to remind yourself about your successes), Appointment Calendar, Questions to Ask, Health Reports, Treatment Reflections, Healthy Doses (pick-me-up quotes)
Things That Could Improve

The app itself isn’t very big, and it really doesn’t use much memory, but it seems to be slowing down my phone a bit. I’m not sure how or why, but I’ve noticed my phone gets very lag-y near notification times (maybe about 30 minutes before and then for about 5 minutes after). During the notification, it definitely lags. That’s probably my biggest “grr” thing about the app in general. The only other gripes I had I already touched on above.

Overall Impression

If you need an easy, and portable, way to track your health, I would definitely recommend using Asthma Storylines! Overall, the application is extremely comprehensive, and makes tracking super accessible to people of all technological abilities. (Well, if you’re really not good with technology, some of the tools may be a little more inaccessible than I make it sound…)

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Additional resources available: Asthma Control Test (same/similar test to what doctors use to track your progress), Patient Resources (so many of them!)

To Download

The Asthma Storylines application is completely free and available for both Apple and Android devices.

  • Android devices: click here to go to the Google Play Store and get the app -or- just go to the Play Store and search “Asthma Storylines”
  • Apple (iPhone & iPad): go to the Apple App Store and search for “Asthma Storylines”

To Learn More

Please check out the Allergy and Asthma Network’s page about the app: here

You can also download the information sheet (PDF) from AAN here.

Check out other reviews of the app, by fellow Chronic Illness Bloggers members, here:

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