Pharmacy giant Pfizer may be known for their health medications, but they are moving in a new direction. The company recently launched a new mobile app for iOS, called Moodivator, aimed at helping those who suffer from depression.

The app encourages users to establish personal goals, routines and track mood patterns. All this can be done within Moodivator. By staying on top of these tasks, participants can regulate their moods — maybe not entirely, but enough to fight the cloud bogging them down.

Why Did Pfizer Create Moodivator?

The app is not designed to go along with any medications — Pfizer-branded or otherwise — and it is not meant to be a primary source of treatment.

Instead, it “complement[s] the treatment patients receive in a simple, efficient and portable way.” That’s what Doctor Susan Kornstein — psychiatry professor at Virginia Commonwealth School of Medicine — says, and she served as a consultant for the app developers.

As we learn more about depression and its effects on health, “technology like the Moodivator app [is] a new and exciting frontier for helping [those who suffer].”

“The option to set, track and achieve personal goals in the Moodivator app ties in nicely with cognitive behavioral therapy techniques that [Kornstein uses] often with [her] patients.”

The information collected is presented via “easy-to-read charts, [which are] very useful, because the progress can be shared with doctors to [influence] care decisions.”

So why did the company create it? And how much does it cost?

You’ll be happy to know that it’s completely free to download, install and use. Anyone can nab it from the Apple App Store. No release date is available, but Kornstein says the company will launch versions for Android, Windows Phone and more.

The company was inspired by a survey that revealed what mental health patients were looking for in terms of treatment. 70% of patients claimed they wanted a mobile app that would allow them to monitor their personal health.

Pfizer simply answered the call with Moodivator.

Anti-Depression Meds Aren’t Always Enough

If you suffer from depression, or know a loved one who does, you already know medication is not a surefire solution. There are many underlying health problems that stem from depression, even some you wouldn’t think of.

For example, depression can lead to insomnia, strokes, coronary disease, heart attacks and more. The constant stress and pain those with depression are subjected to can wear the body down — even physically.

Of course, Pfizer has first-hand experience with this. They manufacture several anti-depression and mental health medications such as Zoloft, Pristiq and more.

But even with strong medication, treatment isn’t always successful. In fact, those with depression wage a war within themselves for the entirety of their lives. This isn’t a health problem that just goes away after a few pills, and Pfizer knows that.

Doctors treat depression in many ways, such as medication, support groups, meetings and more. Few of these methods allow patients to take action. Moodivator, on the other hand, will.

The key features of Moodivator are the following:

  • Goal Setting — Set personal work, home, family or social goals to achieve a better quality of life
  • Mood and Pattern Tracking — Simple reporting tools and charts allow you to track your moods to identify patterns or triggers
  • Sharing Results — Patients can share information, including goal progress and charts, with their healthcare providers

These features will allow those who suffer from this serious ailment to take action. To fight for their own health.

Pfizer and Company Benefit, Too

This is a pharmaceutical company we’re talking about here, so it’s not like Pfizer gets nothing out of the deal.

Even though the application is free for all, the company will be able to collect and study a trove of information from its users. This will allow them to create better products, and share the information with other companies who are willing to do the same.

According to the app’s privacy statement, the data collected may be shared “in an aggregate and/or anonymized format and may disclose such information to third parties for any purpose.”

In other words, the data will help Pfizer and similar providers work towards better solutions for depression.

What About Personal Privacy?

Because more healthcare providers now offer mobile applications, personal privacy and security must be discussed. The information collected by these apps is sensitive, and could be damning if it falls into the wrong hands.

That’s why all healthcare applications have to demonstrate meaningful use. In layman’s terms, this is an initiative that was created with the sole purpose of modernizing and securing this new wave of healthcare tools — mobile applications and the like.

Any information collected in Moodivator is an electronic health record, and therefore must be kept safe from prying eyes. Unless, of course, you count the “third parties” as described in Moodivator’s privacy statement to be “prying eyes.”

Image by Dariusz Sankowski

Meet Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a Gadget Flow writer. She is also a contributor to websites like VentureBeat, VICE, TechnoBuffalo and GearDiary. To read more posts by Kayla, subscribe to her weekly newsletter on her personal tech blog.