Health

Quit Genius: The £6 smoking app that rivals face-to-face therapy

By Oliver Smith 16 August 2017
Summary

It's far better than the NHS smoking app.

Maroof Ahmed’s dad stopped smoking 10 years ago, but he still coughs to this day.

Many of Ahmed’s family members have never given up.

It was only as a doctor-in-training that Ahmed realised this was because all most doctors have been armed with to treat long-term smokers was the unhelpful advice of: “just go home and quit”.

Along with his then-classmate Yusuf Sherwani, the duo started to explore whether smartphone apps could actually help doctors to reinforce that message.

Meet Quit Genius

Their research at Imperial College London into apps and gamification led to the creation of Quit Genius, an app that puts the latest smoking cessation therapies into the palm of your hand – and one that’s being proven to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” Ahmed told The Memo.

“What we’re doing is actually making this more accessible to more people by making it cheaper.”

Traditional ‘cognitive behavioural therapy’ which works by challenging the misconceptions smokers might have – that smoking relieves stress or helps with concentration – is inconvenient and expensive, costing up to £150 per session for up to 10 sessions.

Quit Genius bundles those lessons into an app that is cheaper, less than £6 a month, and more convenient living on your smartphone.

Science fact, not science fiction

The findings of a still in-progress research study by Ahmed, Sherwani and a group of Imperial medics, which will be published shortly, finds Quit Genius as a tool to help stop smoking to be at least as effective as face-to-face therapy.

It also appears to outperform the NHS’s own stop smoking app.

“We’re really re-imagining the patient/therapist relationship, but on a digital programme,” says Ahmed.

“Rather than an hour a week of talking to someone, it’s bite size chunks whenever you can fit them in.”

Truly independent research into Quit Genius is next, and the team say there are a number of large-scale studies coming up that they hope to take part in.

Ahmed and Sherwani say more than one in three of their users quit smoking after just four weeks on the Quit Genius programme, making the programme at least seven times as cost effective as what the NHS pays per quitter.

For now, Ahmed says he’s just looking forward to helping more families around the world to quit smoking.