By Christina Orlovsky Page, contributor
March 21, 2013 - Do I have an infection? What is causing my blood sugar spikes? How can I deal with this pain? These questions and more are now being handled without waiting for the next physician office visit, thanks to a wide array of medical apps that put the power of mobile medical care in your patients’ hands. In fact, the eHealth market is one of the fastest growing areas of mobile technology.
And why not? From accessing their electronic medical record and viewing lab results and scheduling appointments, to managing chronic conditions, tracking disease outbreak information and locating clinical trials, today’s tech-savvy patients are using their smartphones and tablets in new and exciting ways.
A 2012 report from Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution on “How Mobile Devices Are Transforming Health Care” revealed that there are more than 40,000 mobile health apps available today, and by 2016, there will be more than 10 billion mobile devices in use globally. Putting those two figures together, there is an enormous population that will benefit from mobile health technology in the years to come. David West, the report author, writes, “Mobile technology is helping with chronic disease management, empowering the elderly and expectant mothers, reminding people to take medication at the proper time, extending service to underserved areas, and improving health outcomes and medical system efficiency.”
New eHealth applications
Here is just a sampling of unique medical apps now available to the everyday health care consumer:
Perhaps one of the most unique applications is the newly released uChek, which helps the user analyze urine samples for up to 10 markers for conditions like diabetes and urinary tract infections. The app, developed by Mumbai, India-based Biosense Technologies, introduced at the TED 2013 Conference and soon to be available for iPhone 4, 4s or 5, uses the smartphone’s camera and urine dipsticks to help patients record and trend their urinalysis data. www.uchek.in
WebMD Pain Coach
For people suffering with chronic pain, management of triggers and trends is essential for improving quality of life. WebMD, the mainstream medical information consumer’s go-to guide for symptom and condition advice and knowledge, offers a library of apps, including Pain Coach, which allows the user to monitor and track pain levels on a scale of 1 to 10, treatments, moods and more. The site says, “There isn't an easy fix for chronic pain, but if you know what triggers to avoid and what treatments really work, you can manage your pain more effectively.” www.webmd.com/mobile
With more than 14 million logs uploaded to online accounts, Glucose Buddy from Sky Health is the most popular diabetes management iPhone application in use today. The free app is a data storage utility that allows users to manually enter glucose numbers, carb consumption, insulin dosages and activity and then view their log on their online account. Newly added push reminders help keep users accountable. www.glucosebuddy.com
Clinical Trial Seek
Pharmaceutical giant Novartis has turned to smartphones for clinical trial recruitment with this new app that aims to help patients and physicians search for cancer clinical trials sourced from the National Institutes of Health’s www.clinicaltrials.gov database.
For patients with high risk of heart disease, this free patient app serves as a heart health journal, allowing users to record blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol, blood glucose, medications and more, and analyzes data in graph format for patients to share with their physicians. www.ringfulhealth.com
For patients with an even greater likelihood or a history of heart disease, the newly FDA-cleared AliveECG app for the iPhone 4 and 4s provides a pocket-sized electrocardiogram machine. For use with AliveCor’s Heart Monitor, this sophisticated app is intended for medical professionals and prescribed patients only. www.alivecor.com
Finally, for patients who want a full library of medical information, access to journals, disease tracking information, public health blogs and 24/7 newsroom feeds, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a host of resources. Download the CDC Mobile App here: www.cdc.gov.
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