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10 Best Patient Apps

January 12, 2011
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Engaging the patient in the care continuum has never been easier with these mobile apps

During a conversation about Healthcare Informatics’ upcoming Top Tech Trends issue (which drops in March) a few interesting tidbits came up about mobile patient apps. Fran Turisco, research principal in the emerging practices department at CSC, shared her favorite mobile apps for patients. Turisco says that mobile apps that allow patients to be more engaged in their own care fell into three categories, and they are as follows:

The first group of patient health apps are tools that boost health and fitness. “These tools are great to help a person who’s already in the mindset of wanting to be healthy and stay fit,” says Turisco. Many of these apps help people count calories, make good food choices, and some even that allow you to contact a dietician.

  • Digifit (iTMP Technology Inc., Santa Barbara, Calif.): this application suite allows you to track heart rate, distance, pace, and calories burned. It also has customized products like iCardio and iRunner for the activity that suits you.
  • iNewLeaf (Angeion Corporation, St. Paul, Minn., in partnership with ITMP Technology): allows you to create a personalized workouts to optimize heart rate training zones by measuring the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide you breathe.
  • Pedal Brain (Minneapolis, Minn.): this cycling app has a GPS location system that tracks your biking and uploads performance data in real-time to the Web, where coaches, teammates, and friends can follow your progress.
  • Raisin Personal Monitor (Proteus Biomedical, Redwood City, Calif.): is attached to the skin like a Band-Aid and measures heart rate, physical activity, body position, and patient-logged events and sends information via Bluetooth to any computerized device.

2) Medical Content/First Aid
The next group of apps educate patients on medical content and first aid. “It’s written in terminology that’s right for you and me, so it’s not like trying to crack open a medical book,” says Turisco. “The whole idea of not only guiding a patient with content, but also guiding them to seek help, so it doesn’t replace the physician. It gives you information so when you see a physician, you’re educated.”

  • WebMD (New York): allows you to check your symptoms, access drug and treatment information, and get first aid tips. There’s also a neat pill ID too that lets you identify prescription drugs and over the counter medicines by pill shape, color, and imprint.
  • iTriage (Healthagen LLC, Lakewood, Colo.): allows you to use a body avatar to identify your symptoms and then uses location-based technology to find the closest clinic where you are.
  • PatientsLikeMe (Cambridge, Mass.): this is an online community for patients with chronic diseases to network with others. While not an app, this site does have a podcast series accessible on mobile devices.

3)Chronic Disease Management
Having a chronic disease can necessitate a whole lifestyle change, and there are several apps out there to help chronic patients manage their care. “There are a number of solutions out there that have already proven to be incredibly useful in helping people manage diabetes,” says Turisco. “If you connect the solution into the physician’s EHR, then obviously you can share information back and forth, which is the ultimate because you’re electronically connecting the caregiver and the patient.”

  • WellDoc (Baltimore, Md.): several clinics are in the midst of clinical trials with this program that transmits blood glucose levels and other diabetes information to the physician’s EHR to help coordinate care.
  • GluCoMo (Artificial Life Inc., Santa Monica): this is another diabetes management program that allows you to track blood sugar level, food consumption, insulin intake, and other diabetes related activities in an electronic diary. A patient can then transmit their information to a network of doctors for feedback.
  • Withings (France): this app for hypertension patients comes with a blood pressure cuff that transmits the readings via the iPhone for easy upload to Google Health or Microsoft HealthVault PHRs.

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