Smartphone apps to treat illnesses spread in Japan

Smartphone apps to treat illnesses are gaining momentum in Japan.

One such effort by Tokyo-based Susmed is aimed at helping patients sleep.

Clinical trials have been completed for the app and the health ministry approved it in February for sales.

Doctors can now prescribe the venture's app instead of drugs for sleep disorder patients. It works by recording the times patients sleep and when they become drowsy. It uses that data to suggest times to sleep. The process is known as a type of cognitive behavioral therapy.

Susmed CEO Ueno Taro says " You'll get to choose either app or medication to treat insomnia. This is a big deal."

The company aims to start offering the app soon by teaming up with a major pharmaceutical firm in marketing.

Two similar apps have been approved by the health ministry for domestic use. One supports treatment of high blood pressure and is already available.